Spyker F1

The Spyker Brand

Spyker, as a car manufacturer, traces its roots back to two brothers – Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker. The year was 1898 and, based in Amsterdam, the Dutchmen, at that point renowned coachbuilders, constructed their first motorcar. The company was called Spijker and the name has since become synonymous with Dutch engineering heritage. The brothers, originally based in Hilversum, moved to Trompenburg in 1898, with the intention of concentrating on car design.

Following the construction of the golden state coach for the coronation of the Dutch Queen, Wilhelmina, the two brothers decided that the future of the company lay, not in the traditional industry of coach building, but in the motorcar. Appreciating the worldwide appeal of their proposition, the company name was changed to Spyker to increase its marketability.

The first cars were two cylinder 3hp and 5hp, similar to the Benz. However, in 1903, the Spyker brothers brought out a four-cylinder model and a novel six cylinder Spyker 60 HP. The 60 HP is credited as the world’s first racecar with a four-wheel drive and braking system. In 1907, Spyker immersed themselves in their first official race – the Peking to Paris Raid.

On 10th June 1907 Charles Goddard and Jean du Taillis stepped into a Spyker 14/18HP alongside five competitors. In a race where Goddard was towed by animals and purportedly had to borrow money to buy his petrol, the Spyker managed a second place finish. The success of the car gave it a lofty reputation as the ‘Rolls Royce’s of the continent’. Economic troubles and the onset of the first world war led Spyker to merge with a Dutch Aircraft designer and the firm diversified into producing fighter aircraft, manufacturing over 100 planes and 200 engines for the war.

After the war, Spyker was able to return to car manufacture and continued its participation in a series of rather romantic and esoteric events with the Spyker C4. Rolls Royce was seen as the epitome of car design at that time and the Dutch directors looked to emulate the 15,000-mile journey made by a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in 1907.

The Dutch manufacturer decided to achieve their objective in an attempt to cover 30,000 km (18,642 miles), continuously repeating a route between Nijmegen and Sittard. It took a team of drivers 36 days to drive the 30,000 km, and the Spyker C4 held up to the ordeal with minimal problems. In order to convince any non-believers of the pedigree of the car’s construction, after the record attempt the C4 was then driven back to Amsterdam on the same day.

The next test for the manufacturer came in 1922 when the famed driver, Selwyn Edge, chose a Spyker C4 to break his own record for average speed over 24 hours. Edge, who had notched up an impressive average speed of 96.6 KpH in 1906, was impressed by the Spyker and in 1922, over the course of his 24-hour attempt, the Spyker managed an average speed of 120KpH, far exceeding all expectations.

However, despite the impressive record on the racing circuit, Spyker sales disappointed and in 1922 the company had to file for bankruptcy. From 1922-1926 the Spyker name was still in production but demand continued to be weak and finally in 1926 the firm was officially liquidated.

The modern company

In 2000, Victor Muller and Maarten de Bruijn elected to use the Spyker brand name for their exclusive sports cars, the first of which was the Spyker C8. The luxury Sports car was awarded the Institute of Vehicle Engineers Design Award on 18 October 2000 and subsequently the Spyker C8 Double12 R was released for participation at Le Mans. The car competed in both the 2002 and 2003 Le Mans. Failing to finish, due to engine problems in 2002, the car was more successful in 2003. Driven by a team of Norman Simon, Tom Coronel and Hans Hugenholtz, the 2003 Spyker finished 30th with a total of 229 laps.

On September 4, 2005, the Spyker C8 Spyder GT2R gave the Spyker name its first taste of racing success since the 1920s. Participating in the Le Mans Series 1000km race at Nürburgring, Germany, the Spyker achieved a podium place with a second place finish. Two months later the same Spyker cemented this victory with a further second place finish in Dubai during a FIA GT race.

Successes at LeMans in 2005 and 2006 heralded the decision to enter Formula One in September 2006. At the Italian Grand Prix, Spyker announced the acquisition of Midland F1 Racing for $106.6million. Midland was in itself a hand-me-down and actually was a reincarnation of the former Jordan racing team, created when Alex Schnaider bought the team from Eddie Jordan in 2005 for $60million. The Jordan team had been running Ferrari engines and Spyker continued to include the Italian engines in their F1, paying $45million for the privilege

A Single F1 Season

While the team finished off the 2006 season with drivers Christijian Albers and Tiago Monteiro, the Spyker-Ferrari team officially debuted at the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 18th with a Ferrari 056H engine. As with most Dutch teams, the car was lurid orange and main sponsors included predominantly Dutch companies such as LeasePlan, Rotozip and Philoderm.

The team chose to retain the services of the Dutchman Albers to start the season and promoted the team’s third driver – Adrian Sutil to the second driver position. The debut saw Sutil finish 17th and Albers forced to retire from the race. Following a contractual problem in July 2007, Albers was released by the team to be replaced by Sakon Yamamoto of competitor Super Aguri from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.

Sutil was to score the team’s only point on September 30 at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix. While Sutil actually finished 9th on the day, marshals stated that an illegal manoeuvre occurred when Toro Rosso overtook the German on lap 55 and enforced a 25 second penalty. This was enough to put Sutil into 8th Place and gave the Spyker team their first and only competitive F1 point.

Signs of difficulty in running the Spyker team occurred in August 2007. The CEO of Spyker F1, Michiel Mol, announced that the team was considering a partial sale of the company. However in October 2007, Spyker officially unveiled the full sale of the company for the 2008 season to Vijay Mallya, with the team to be re-named Force India for the following season.

Key People

  • Adrian Sutil – Lead Driver
  • Sakon Yamomoto – Second Driver
  • Markus Winkelhock, Adrián Vallés, Fairuz Fauzy, Geido van der Garde – Test Drivers
  • Colin Kolles – Managing director and team principal
  • Michiel Mol – Director of Formula 1
  • Mike Gascoyne – Chief technical officer
  • Patrick Missling – Chief operational officer
  • James Key – Technical Director
  • Andy Stevenson – Team Manager
  • John McQuilliam – Chief Designer