Top Five: F1 Failures

30 07 2009

As BMW have now decided to pull out of F1 after essentially failing to meet they’re own targets, I’ve decided to go for my top five F1 team failures, so here they are.

1. Life

Purchasing a single chassis from the aborted FIRST project from 1989, Life attempted to show off their W12 engine. This wasn’t a great idea as it had around 150-200bhp less than its competitors. This combined with the fact it was the heaviest car in the field meant that it had the pace of an F3 car, although they weren’t to know as it hadn’t been tested when they arrived at the first race. The team failed to pre-qualify for all 14 GPs they attempted to race in. Gary Brabham was signed to race, but left after two race weekends after the car blew up after 400m, because the striking Italian mechanics didn’t put any oil in the car. For the last two pre-qualifying attempts, they used a Judd V8, the car was still crap… and ugly as sin.

2. Mastercard Lola

The team were initially due to enter the sport in 1998, but under pressure from sponsors brought their entry forward a year to 1997. The car had completed only a handful of tests and had never seen the inside of a wind tunnel, so Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset (first and second in F3000 in 1995) were facing an uphill battle when they went out to qualify for the Australian GP at Albert Park. They failed, over 11 and 13 seconds respectively adrift of Jacques Villeneuve’s pole time, and well outside the 107% required. Three weeks later, the race staff turned up at the Brazilian GP, the cars didn’t, Lola announced they were pulling out of F1 due to financial reasons and haven’t been back since. Lola had actually amassed £6million of debt, went bust, was bought and revived my Martin Birrane.

3. Pacific

It looked so promising, they had won in every junior formulae they had participated in, had commissioned Reynard to build a chassis, but Reynard sold the design in drawing form to Ligier, and Pacific were left with only the initial research and F3000 parts for the PR01. The team’s entry was delayed by a year to 1994, but the car was still woefully under-developed with little testing and no wind tunnel work (are you noticing a theme here?). The team utilised an old and underpowered Ilmor unit for the 1994 season, and when they managed to qualify, they never finished. Gluttons for punishment, they merged with the dying Lotus team for 1995 and got Ford V8s. Better news was that a shrunken grid for 1995 meant pre-qualifying was no longer needed, so they found themselves starting more often, and even managed to finish a few times. After the money from pay-drivers dried up they decided to fold the operation and return to F3000, only to fail there too.

4. Andrea Moda Formula

In 1991, Andrea Sassetti bought the failing Coloni team (see below). For 1992 he bought cars designed by Simtek in 1990 for BMW and mated them with a Judd engine. This most inauspicious start was compounded by being excluded from their debut GP weekend for failing to pay the £100,000 new team deposit to the FIA. Fourth driver of the season, Perry McCarthy (of original black Stig fame), was initially denied a super licence, not helping matters. Roberto Moreno finally qualified for Monaco, and promptly retired with engine issues. For the Canadian GP the team were sans engines after failing to pay Judd. The team continued to fail to make the race grid and were warned by the FIA to improve, which was made difficult by the continuous stream of staff leaving. Sassetti was arrested at the Belgian GP on suspicion of forging invoices, this was the last straw for the FIA, they turned the team away from the paddock at the Italian GP, Andrea Moda had been banned from F1 for bringing the sport into disrepute.

5. Coloni

Or to give them their full name; Enzo Coloni Racing Car Systems. Catchy. Anyway, this was a long term project compared to the above efforts, with a two race taster session in 1987 and season long campaigns from 1988-1991 (including a two-car season in 1989) having been succesful. The team had some finishes in 1988, but no points, but 1989 saw them amass debts and fail to finish once, struggling like so many new teams of the era to qualify or even pre-qualify. For 1990 they announced a manufacturer partnership with Subaru, utilising the company’s flat-12 engine, the only thing it was quicker than was the Life car. Subaru pulled out half way through the season, so the team bout Cosworth engines that gave them pace, but still not enough to qualify. By the end of the 1991 season the team hadn’t qualified to start a race since the 1989 Portuguese GP, and hadn’t finished a race since Portugal 1988.

Honourable mention: Amon

Chris Amon, the unluckiest driver in F1 (although quite handy at Le Mans), set up his own team in 1974. He was just as unlucky as a team owner, the team took part in four race weekends before giving it up for a bad job with one start to its name.




One response

17 08 2010
Top Five Worst F1 Champions « Top Five

[…] Beach – and then failed to score for the rest of the season, being bested by his teammate Bruno Giacomelli, a driver who was never particularly great. The fact he was able to win in CART after he left F1 […]

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