Brian Henton is a former British racing driver who recorded 38 participations and 19 starts in Formula One between 1975 and 1982, driving for seven different teams (Lotus, March, Boro, Surtees, Toleman, Arrows and Tyrrell) and his own team British F1 Racing. In the same period, he was a regular competitor in the European Formula 2 Championship, becoming a champion in 1980. Earlier in a career, he was 1974 British Formula 3 champion.
Formula Vee and Formula 3 champion early in a career
Born in Castle Donington, Leicestershire in September 1946, Henton started his racing career relatively late, at the age 23. His first success was a victory in the British Formula Vee championship in 1971.
The next step was a Formula 3, in which he debuted in 1973, becoming a champion in 1974. That year, he was driving for March Engineering, winning the BARC F3 championship with eight wins in ten races. in 1974, Henton also debuted in the European Formula 2 Championship with March, taking sixth place at Mugello.
In 1975, Henton was driving for Lotus
Formula One debut in 1975 with Lotus
In 1975, Formula 2 Championship was his main competition. He was driving his own March 752-Hart in seven races, finishing best in the third place at Hockenheimring. In August, he joined Wheatcraft Racing at Silverstone, reaching one more podium with a third-place finish. At the end of the season, he was 11th in the points.
In July 1975, Henton debuted in Formula One, driving the #15 Lotus 72F-Cosworth for John Player Team Lotus in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. He retired after an accident on lap 53 (of 56), being classified 16th. In August, he crashed during the practice for the Austrian Grand Prix and didn't start the race. His third race with Lotus was the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, where he finished a race ten laps behind a winner, not being classified.
Maiden Formula 2 victory at Thruxton
In 1976, Henton was out of racing for the almost entire season, returning in 1977 both to Formula 1 and Formula 2. He scored his maiden Formula 2 victory at Thruxton Circuit, driving a Boxer-Hart for Netherton & Worth Boxer Cars. He stayed with the team in four races, switching to Ardmore Racing's Chevron in season's finale at Donington Park. At the end of the season, he was 10th in the points.
In 1977, Henton formed his own team British F1 Racing
Formula One attempts with his own team
In the 1977 Formula One season, Henton had the first appearance at the United States Grand Prix West in Long Beach, California. He was driving the #10 March 761-Cosworth for Team Rothmans International/March Engineering, finishing 10th.
After that, he purchased a car from March to set his own team British F1 Racing. He finished fourth in the F1 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, what was an only bright moment of the season. He failed to qualify for three championship events (Spain, GB, Austria) while Bernard de Dryver didn't qualify for the Belgian Grand Prix. For the Dutch Grand Prix, Henton joined Boro F1 team. He was disqualified from the race after he was pushed following his spin on the track. He returned with Boro to the Italian Grand Prix, failing to qualify for the race.
Following disappointing results in Formula 1, Henton didn't return to the championship in 1978. He participated only in practice session at Austrian Grand Prix, driving for Team Surtees. Instead of F1, he returned full-time to Formula 2 in 1978. He was driving his own March 782-Hart, scoring points two times to finish 16th in the final classification. For the 1979 F2 season, he joined Toleman Group Motorsport and became one of the title contenders. He won two times with March and Ralt cars, at Mugello and Misano, finishing second in the points behind Marc Surer.
Henton stayed with Toleman in 1980 F2 season, finally capturing championship title with their own Toleman TG280 car. He was the race winner three times (Thruxton, Vallelunga, Mugello), adding six more podiums for a dominant championship victory ahead of teammate Derek Warwick.
1981 - Derek Warwick, Brian Henton and Brian Hart
Driving for Toleman in team's debut Formula 1 season
With Formula 2 championship trophy in his hands, Henton returned to Formula 1 in 1981 with Candy Toleman Motorsport. It was team's first year in Formula One and results were disappointing.
Henton failed to qualify for eleven races, starting only in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, where he was 10th. His teammate Derek Warwick was even worst, recording 11 DNQs and one DNF.
The most of his F1 starts Henton made with Tyrrell in 1982
1982 – last F1 season with Arrows and Tyrrell
For the 1982 F1 season, Toleman retained Warwick and signed Teo Fabi, so Henton had to find a new team. He was driving for Arrows in three rounds, failing to qualify two times (South Africa, Brazil( and retiring at Long Beach.
For the fourth round, the San Marino Grand Prix, Henton joined Team Tyrrell and stayed with the team until the end of the season. It was his most productive F1 period as he started in thirteen races. His best result was 7th place in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring.
Fourth place at 1983 Formula 1 Race of Champions
In 1983, Henton retired from racing. His last race was the 1983 Formula 1 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in April. It was also the last non-championship F1 race in the modern era.
Henton was driving the #34 Theodore N183-Cosworth for Theodore Racing, as one of thirteen drivers on the grid. He was the sixth-fastest qualifier and finished the race in fourth place, what was a better result than in any of his F1 championship races.