Since 1950, 205 official constructors have entered into FIA Formula 1 World Championship events which includes 11 Indianapolis 500s before the event departed from under the FIA’s purview.
Over the course of 70 years of the World Championship, we’ve seen glory and success grace those worthy enough of becoming multiple World Champions such as Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Mercedes.
But what about those who have attempted to try and make it on a wing and a prayer?
MotorsportWeek.com takes a dive into the history books to have a look at 10 of the most unsuccessful and even criminally negligent outfits to try and make their way into F1.
Let’s also go in descending order to save the worst until last!
Claudio Forti wanted to make the move up to F1 after tasting success in Formula 3000 and having seen the demise of other teams who tried to do so with haste fall by the wayside like Onyx and Coloni (we’ll get to them later). Eddie Jordan’s eponymous team had shown how to make it work.
In 1992, Forti signed a deal with well-funded driver Pedro Diniz which helped secure vital sponsorship for the team and built the foundations over the following years, ready for the 1995 campaign.
However in spite of the backing and preparation involved, the FG01 was overweight, underpowered and didn’t even run a semi-automatic gearbox which the rest of the field had moved to years prior.
Diniz was lapped seven times by eventual winner Michael Schumacher at the season-opening race in Brazil, while Diniz and second driver Roberto Moreno were lapped nine times in Argentina by Damon Hill.
Thanks to the valuable sponsorship, the car was developed massively over the course of the year and it eventually closed the gap to the field by qualifying inside the 107 per cent ruling by the end of the season in Adelaide, Australia.
But the team was dealt a hammer blow when Diniz, and several other sponsors, moved to Ligier for 1996. After a spate of retirements and failures to qualify the team dropped from the grid, never to appear again.
9. RAM Racing
From 1976 to 1985 RAM entered into Formula 1 through its founders Mike Ralph and John MacDonald. As with many of the teams in the 1970s, chassis and engines were mixed and matched in order to get onto the grid.
RAM often failed to qualify for many of the events it entered into and when it did get over the hurdle to get into a race, it was woefully slow.
After skipping the 1981 and 1982 seasons, RAM finally entered its own chassis for 1983 but it was miles off the pace, only qualifying for three events: two for Eliseo Salazar and one for Kenny Acheson.
1984 was the team’s best season successfully qualifying with both cars, however, despite the power from the Hart 1.5l turbo-charged straight four engine it was also hopelessly unreliable. In the hands of Jonathan Palmer it scored its best result of eighth at the season-opening Brazilian Grand Prix.The team folded after the 1985 season.
8. AGS (Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives)
AGS was most certainly a team on a shoestring budget. In 1986, Henri Julien ran the outfit from a small garage in France with just seven employees.
AGS’ fortunes gradually improved, eventually scoring solitary points for Roberto Moreno in the 1987 Australian GP, followed up by Gabriele Tarquini at Mexico in 1989.
After trying to build a new facility thanks to money from a big French sponsor in Bouygues, it all fell apart after they pulled out which left the team in a downward spiral.
However, after getting sold on a few occasions, the team was left with little structure and capitulated after its solid start to 1989 – failing to pre-qualify for most races which followed into the following seasons. It disappeared after the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix.
After some success with saloon car and endurance racing, founder Erich Zakowski made the decision to move into F1. Powered by the Ford C100 engine which was in its Group C sportscars, but with the project already delayed by a year, the package was outdated.
Zakspeed often qualified for races, but found itself woefully uncompetitive when it did. The team’s best result came in the hands of Martin Brundle at the 1987 San Marino Grand Prix – scoring the team’s only points finish in fifth place.
However Brundle’s season also had a low point at the Austrian Grand Prix after getting involved in two opening lap crashes off the grid before being disqualified for bodywork issues owing to the third restart. The team struggled in 1988 and could barely make the grid.
After turbo engines were banned for 1989 and the move across to the woefully unreliable and underpowered Yamaha V8, it only made it past pre-qualifying on two occasions with former F3 champion Bernd Schneider in Brazil and Japan. The team withdrew from F1 at the end of the season.
After some relative success in European Formula 2, Osella moved its operation into F1 with Eddie Cheever, who had a solid F2 campaign in 1979. The US driver was only able to finish one race at Imola, failing to qualify or retire in all the others.
Cheever left for Tyrrell in 1981 and Osella continued on a trend to continuously swap out drivers on a frequent basis. Known for its bright blue livery, the team’s best result of fourth place came at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jarier.
Powered by an extremely unreliable turbo-charged Alfa Romeo V8 engine, it rarely finished any races it managed to enter.
Once the turbo engines were banned, Enzo Osella was quick to dump the engine for a Cosworth DFR which showed promise in 1989, but again the package was massively off the pace and rarely made it past the pre-qualify stage of a race weekend.
Osella sold the shares to Italian wheel maker Fondmetal as part of a sponsorship deal for 1991 and 1992, but performances never improved and new owner Gabriele Rumi had to pull the plug on the operation due to mounting debts before the ’92 season was over.
Come back tomorrow for the final five entrants on the list!