Yesterday we took a shallow dive into some of F1’s entries that really struggled to make it on the grid, let’s go off the deep end now and check out those who really did themselves a disservice!
Having had success in the World Sportscar Championship, 1988 saw Walter Brun link up with the Euroracing outfit which ran the Alfa Romeo team in the 1980s to create EuroBrun.
But the team managed only 21 starts from its 48 entries. Funds were always scarce and threatened the whole Brun Motorsport operation.
After internal struggles arose Euroracing quickly decided to pull back their half of the team and leave Brun running just a single entry by 1989 which failed to qualify at any event in the hands of Gregor Foitek or Oscar Larrauri.
The team returned to two cars for 1990 but only made it past the pre-qualifying stage with Roberto Moreno in the USA and Mexico.
As funds continued to put a strain on Walter Brun, he eventually folded the F1 operation after 14 rounds of the 1990 season.
After the FIA announced it would ban turbocharged engines from 1989, Enzo Coloni made the decision to expand his Formula 3 team and grow an F1 operation with it.
In 82 attempts from 1987-1991, the team managed to successfully qualify on just 14 occasions.
The team ran with Cosworth engines for the majority of its time in F1, but famously linked up with Subaru for the early part of the 1990 season with the Japanese manufacturer taking a 51 per cent stake in the team and offered works engines for free.
The flat 12 design proved hopelessly underpowered by almost 400hp and overweight by nearly 140kg which meant the sole car of Bertrand Gachot never qualifed for a race.
Subaru sold back its stake to Coloni and the team returned to Cosworth engines but despite improvements to the car, it never qualified for another race. The operation was sold to Andrea Sassetti to create the monstrosity that we will follow up with later on.
3. MasterCard Lola
Having been a reputable chassis manufacturer throughout motorsport for a number of decades, founder Eric Broadley wanted to create his own fully-fledged F1 team. Prototype testing got underway in 1995 with Allan McNish behind the wheel with an eye on joining the championship for 1998.
Lola secured MasterCard as its title sponsor and it appeared to be a real financial coup – only the reality was very different.
Unlike most sponsors, which run on initial payments and later instalments, the MasterCard/Lola deal was tied to MasterCard customers signing up to the ‘F1 Club’ which meant that money would pay for the F1 team.
The T97/30 chassis however was mainly based on IndyCar technology and never saw the inside of an F1 windtunnel.
Another major problem was Lola wanted to run their own in-house V10 engine which was massively underdeveloped, due to its delays it was forced to use the Ford Zetec V8 engine which powered Forti for the previous two seasons.
The driver line-up showed some promise with Benetton test driver Vincenzo Sospiri and 1995 F3000 runner-up Riccardo Rosset, but that was to mean nothing as the cars arrived in Melbourne, Australia for the opening race of the 1997 season.
Having been forced to push its entire project forward by a year ahead of schedule owing to the pressures from MasterCard, the problems were laid bare…
Both cars were over 10 seconds slower than Jacques Villeneuve’s pole-sitting Williams-Renault FW19, which meant they failed to make the 107 per cent rule by a gigantic margin. Their times were 112 per cent slower.
After such a disastrous showing, the team pulled the plug before the next race in Brazil and were never to be seen again.
2. Life Racing Engines
We always like to see anything in any environment buck the trend and make something successful, right?
Well, Ernesta Vita attempted to do such a thing in 1990 with his Life outfit by attempting run a W12 engine at a time when the F1 field was running V8s, V10s and V12s with speed and varying forms of reliability.
Vita purchased a stillborn chassis from the First Racing team which had already run into issues with its first chassis after a temperature mistake in its autoclave. The second chassis by designer Lamberto Leoni was regarded as only being good for a ‘flowerpot’. But Vita pressed on with his project.
The incredibly under-powered and ill-handling horror show of a race car was slower than the entirety of the Formula 3000 support series.
One driver in the form of Gary Brabham quit after two races when his car broke down after 400 yards in Brazil, as no oil had been put into the engine due to the mechanics being on strike.
Brabham also revealed the team did not even have a working tachometer on the dashboard and had to borrow tyre pressure gauges from the already struggling EuroBrun team.
Bruno Giacomelli was brought in for the remainder of the season, but the car could never complete more than eight laps without a technical issue. The Italian’s fastest lap at Imola was six minutes slower than the next fastest car of Claudio Langes’ EuroBrun thanks to a broken engine belt.
Vita persisted with zero success with the W12 concept before reluctantly replacing it with a Judd V8 for the Portuguese Grand Prix, but this was also an attempt which would flop as the engine cover no longer fitted to the chassis.
On its first flying lap, the cover flew off the car and subsequently withdrew from the final two races of the season.
The sole L190 chassis was restored with its W12 engine and drove at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed in 2009.
1. Andrea Moda
Remember Coloni selling the team? Here’s what happened to them next… After being bought by Italian shoe designer Andrea Sassetti a deal with Simtek to run the team for 1991 fell through, which meant it had to wait until 1992 to get on track with drivers Alex Caffi and Enrico Bertaggia.
Drama started right from the get go after the team was excluded from the season-opener at Kyalami after not paying the required $100,000 deposit for a new team. Sassetti argued that he had taken over the team itself and not created a new team, however he did not purchase the Coloni’s entry, which meant the FIA upheld its argument.
Sassetti then went to hire Roberto Moreno and Perry McCarthy (later of Top Gear fame) but the Brit was refused a super licence, and when he got one for the following round in Spain, the car expired before he even got to the end of the pitlane.
The situation got worse when Bertaggia made an attempted comeback with a huge sponsorship fund and Sassetti wanted to swap out McCarthy for the Italian, but due to the already fractious relationship with the FIA, the governing body refused the request.
Sassetti became extremely bitter at this situation and effectively began to ignore McCarthy entirely and his car was essentially a spare part operation for Moreno’s.
The Monaco Grand Prix saw Moreno successfully make it into the only race Andrea Moda would qualify for, while McCarthy’s car was eliminated in pre-qualifying with an official lap time of 17:05.924.
Sassetti’s grudge against McCarthy showed at other events, included sending him out on wet tyres on a hot, dry day at Silverstone, as well as sending him out with only 45 seconds left of pre-qualifying in Hungary.
After further mistreatment of McCarthy the team was handed an official warning by the FIA to treat both cars equally.
After failing to qualify yet again by a vast margin in Belgium, Sassetti was eventually arrested in the paddock for criminal activity in other businesses and the team was refused entry at the Italian Grand Prix and subsequently banned for bringing the championship into disrepute.
Sassetti now runs restaurants and nightclubs and has both S921 cars at his home in Italy.
Always interesting to hear about the teams from the less glamorous end of the grid. While the teams you discuss actually raced for some races, there were others who barely made it to one or two races. I would cite Maki with Tony Trimmer driving or Eifelland with Rolf Stommelen. Perhaps another article on these examples of optimism over ability, the teams not the drivers.
Also, in the above article why no mention of the infamous Jean Van Rossem and Moneytron?