|Formula One World Championship career|
|Races||2 (1 start)|
|First race||1980 Belgian Grand Prix|
|Last race||1980 Monaco Grand Prix|
|British Formula One Series career|
Timothy "Tiff" Needell (born 29 October 1951 in Havant, Hampshire) is a British racing driver and television presenter. He is best known as a former co-presenter of Top Gear and current co-presenter of Fifth Gear.
Needell first raced at a driving school at Brands Hatch in 1970. He progressed to Formula Ford, his progress assisted by the use of a Lotus 69 FF he won in an Autosport magazine competition. The remainder of the 1970s saw Needell as a front runner in the British Formula 3 series and then in the Aurora British Formula One championship. In 1979 he was unable to graduate to the F1 World Championship due to the lack of the correct licence, but he was back in 1980, driving two Grands Prix for Ensign, qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. However, he had an engine problem and did not finish the race. He subsequently failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix.
In 1988 and 1989 he competed in the British Rallycross Grand Prix in a Metro 6R4 prepared by Will Gollop's motorsport team. He achieved a good result in 1988 finishing 4th in the B-Final in what was his first rallycross event, however, the 1989 event was cancelled due to heavy fog after the practice sessions.
Needell made his first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1981 driving a Ibec-Hesketh 308LM alongside Tony Trimmer. They failed to finish and again in 1982 this time pared with Bob Evans and Geoff Lees is an Aston Martin Nimrod NRA/C2. However the following year Needell finished 17th driving a Porsche 956. In 1985 Needell briefly lead the 24 hours driving the Aston Martin EMKA C84/1 and would eventually finish 11th. His best result at Le Mans was 3rd in 1990. He then had a couple of years in the British Touring Car Championship with Nissan, before returning to sports cars in 1995, driving a Porsche at Daytona and a Jaguar XJ220 at Le Mans. He then drove the Lister Storm for 3 years, reaching 3rd overall at Daytona in 1997 before gearbox problems dropped them to 19th. In 1998 he finished 2nd in the GT1 championship and won the Silverstone Golden Jubilee Trophy race.
Since then, Needell's racing career has mainly consisted of racing tin-tops (hard-topped cars), with varying levels of success in sports cars, historic racing and touring cars. He achieved particular notoriety after an accident with Nigel Mansell at the 1993 TOCA shoot out race at Donington Park.
Needell is best known in the United Kingdom as a television presenter and motoring journalist, in particular in association with the BBC TV series Top Gear which he started co-hosting in 1987. In 2001, when the BBC cancelled Top Gear (the show was brought back in 2002), Needell and the whole cast defected and signed with Five to produce and host a new motoring show named Fifth Gear. He does however, still contribute to Top Gear magazine. Needell has also co-presented 'MPH' at Earls Court in 2003, 2004, 2005 with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond and in 2006 with Jeremy Clarkson and James May (because Richard Hammond was recovering from his accident). He also appeared very briefly in the 2005 Top Gear Comic Relief special, Stars in Fast Cars—his only appearance on New Top Gear. In 2009 he appeared on James May's Toy Stories featuring the building of a Scalectrix around Brooklands.
Needell says his highlight to date is "accidentally, ahem, ignoring the strict instructions Ferrari issued about not touching the traction control on their half million pound Enzo..." He has also done this on Fifth Gear while reviewing the Bugatti Veyron as well as the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, joking that his finger slipped after showing viewers the letter from Mercedes-Benz requesting he leave the traction control on.
Needell has lent his voice to the first and second games in the 'TOCA Touring Car series' for British video game developer Codemasters. His voice is also featured in the 'Ferrari Challenge' and 'Le Mans 24 Hours' video game for racing game developer Eutechnyx. He also features in the video game Race Pro racing an Aston Martin DBR9. Additionally, he is the voice of the Road Angel road safety device and GPS speed camera alert system, as well as the face on their advertising campaigns. He also is the voice of Rita - Queen of Speed at Alton Towers as well as narrating several Discovery Channel documentaries.
His younger brother Chris is a team manager for Barwell Motorsports team racing Aston Martin DBRS9. The nickname "Tiff" was apparently given to him by his brother because of their constant arguing.
In November 2006, Needell was cleared of 'failing to supply details in relation to a speeding ticket', and the accompanying speeding offence by Pontypridd magistrates. He was defended by Nick Freeman, otherwise known as Mr. Loophole, who also defended former colleague Jeremy Clarkson on a similar case.
He also works as an after dinner speaker.
|1980||Unipart Racing Team||Ensign N180||Cosworth V8||ARG