Worst F1 Teams Ever
With the Hispania team currently filling the role of Formula One whipping boys. A team looking very likely to fold into the annals of fail alongside such good company as The Sega Saturn and The Zambian Space Program. The question often arises; why bother? Formula One is and always has been a horrendously expensive sport and if you don't have the resources or technical know how it is perhaps one ambition best sated in another fashion, like scalextric for instance. Still that hasn't stopped many Formula One teams that, truth be told, were just not up to the job. One thing it has provided fans of the sport is a bit of dark nostalgia and breathtaking professional incompetency to marvel at. Still at least they gave it a go...
Token - 1974
Before Ron Dennis was the head honcho at Mclaren he once conceived one of the worst Formula One teams ever! Well back in the '70s it was so nearly his first crack at the pinnacle motor-sport series. In retrospect it was a stroke of luck that saved him some humility among other things that his main sponsor (Motul) pulled out, forcing him to pass the ill-fated project on to British businessmen, shipbroker Tony Vlassopoulo and Lloyds underwriter Ken Grob. Token, as it cornily became known, combining Tony and Ken. With such a naff name the team looked set to be playing a 'token' role as mobile chicanes from the start.
You might think the Hispania cars barely scraping in the 107% pace rule on many occasions is slow, but just to give an indication of how slow the Token initially was - it was a full 26.2 seconds off James Hunt's pole time in its first race. After the debut embarrassment the Token gained a little improvement qualifying last and second last in two following Grand Prix. They made a best finish all time of 14th at the old Nurburing Nordschieffe before resources and patience with the hapless car ran out and the outfit folded after just four Grand Prix and just three race starts. The car having problems with 'porous tires' during its best finish was perhaps an insight into what level the little privateer outfit were running at.
Coloni - 1987 - 1991
Still a force to be reckoned with in junior categories of racing, including GP 2 (previously F3000). The team was founded by Italian Formula 3 champion Enzo Coloni, who was known as 'The Wolf', hence the wolf featured on the Coloni badge.
The team started out quite well. In the first two years highlights for Coloni were qualifying for many of its races and Gabriele Tarquini steering the car home 8th in Canada. Then in Estoril they qualified a career best 15th with Formula 3000 stalwart Roberto Moreno. Sadly, damage meant early retirement in the following race.
The ambition to move up the grid looked to be fulfilling itself when in 1990 Coloni managed to get a works engine deal with Japanese manufacturer Subaru. Unfortunately Subaru were busy making a bid to be among the worst ever F1 engines! Their design was based on a concept that had helped Ferrari to success, but this was in the mid-'70s. In addition to this the engine was badly designed and was far too heavy, weighing the car down. What followed was a whole season in which the team failed to qualify a car. The Subaru deal soon went sour and with little resources, success or patience left the team folded before the end of the 1991 season.
On the bright side Coloni helped launch the career of Gary Anderson, technician (of Jordan fame) and Gabriele Tarquini who has become a multiple champion in the world of Touring Car Racing.
Life - 1990
C'est la vie, that's life. Well if it is in the context of the Life Formula One team then suicide is probably a better option. Yet another misconceived, underfunded project. This one wasn't just slow, it was a bit... special. The idea was to showcase the unique W12 engine, buying the defunct FIRST team's chassis to accommodate it. The chassis with its peculiar low side-pods wasn't particularly aerodynamic or even safe, although the car could not go much beyond 220 Kph anyway.
As it turned out the engine was nowhere near fast enough either. The Life W12 was in short a bit of a pig. The car spluttered around mostly between 10 and 20 seconds off the pace at each race. Thus never actually managing to qualify. A late swap to a Judd V8 engine did little to improve the pace or the life-span of the team. The engine didn't sell, drivers such as David Brabham walked away in disgust and the money was soon pretty thin. A team that started with the idea to sell engines was a failed business venture of epic proportions. "If this is what Life is then I don't want to live it" was quoted by team boss Ernesto Vita (probably) before deciding to shut the project down. 14 entries and 14 failures to qualify, not just that but regularly full ten seconds under the bar. Surely this is close to the worst ever F1 team.
Andrea Moda - 1992
Like most F1 no hopers Andrea Moda were beset with a severe lack of resources, funds and professionalism. The latter of the three which caused their premature death in 1992. The car was inherited by Italian shoe magnate Andrea Sassetti from the collapse of Coloni. One of the reasons Coloni didn't make it was that their car was very poor. Now the bad Coloni car was not just slow, it was also out-of-date. The formation of the team was much like a horse trainer buying a mare with three legs.
They didn't have the greatest talent pool of drivers either and the first two Italian pairs were soon shown the door after failing to qualify. One driver, Roberto Moreno, did show some spirit in actually managing to qualify the archaic chassis at Monaco that year. This was an achievement and high point for the team. In the race he even made up seven places, starting 26th and finishing 19th. Although It should be mentioned that this was due to the seven cars ahead retiring.
Moreno's teammate Paddy McCarthy was treated as 'second driver'. At a team short of money and indeed decent management this meant doing a couple of laps, before leaving the car as a spare for Moreno or been given Moreno's used wets even though the track had dried out at Silverstone. The three laps at Monaco McCarthy did do were said to have been done without even a proper race seat being built and as such were not particularly comfortable.
The team and the car were after nearly a dozen races not making the grid, falling to pieces - the car in a literal sense - at Spa. Halfway through that Belgian race weekend team boss Sassetti was arrested on charges of fraud. The governing bodies had seen enough, Moda were unceremoniously banned for bringing the sport into disrepute. In many ways it was a case of putting a limp horse out of its misery.
Mastercard Lola - 1997
If you want to do a job then do it properly would probably have been the most appropriate advice for the rushed Lola project of 1997. Like Coloni, Lola are still a respected and functioning team in motorsports, but their F1 attempts were rubbish. After supplying chassis to various other teams since the early '60s it had always been Lola boss Eric Broadley's ambition to have his own Lola badged team in F1.
Pre-entry in 1996 Lola managed to scoop $35 million of Mastercard backing and an aging but reliable Ford engine deal. Things were looking good for building up slowly with entry in 1998 planned.
It all started to go pear shaped when the team was rushed onto the grid in 1997 without even seeing a wind tunnel, due to sponsors demands. A rather silly demand it has to be said. The car was simply nowhere near ready and had all kinds of problems with aerodynamics; on the straight in bends, sitting in the garage. The two race weekends it took part in make Mastercard Lola one of the briefest F1 entries ever. The car was about five seconds down on the next slowest car and thus was not allowed to go near the start of a race. Perhaps the one good decision that was made by the admirals of any of these sinking ships; simply give up. After two dire events the Lolas were wheeled into the back of the team trucks, never to be seen again. Happily Lola have since recovered to success, most notably in American Champ Cars. As for the Lola F1 chapter; the Lola spokesperson claimed it was a bad dream.
Super Aguri - 2006 - 2008
Super Aguri were a rare throwback in the ultra professional world of modern Formula One, a fitting homage to the ramshackle failed teams of old. On debut they used a three-year-old Arrows chassis, coupled with an out-of-date Honda engine. Super Aguri assumed a Honda junior team guise and were fortunate to inherit the 2006 Honda for '07. Takuma Sato, an often unfairly derided Suara.com personality, was their best driver and 2007, easily the team's best season.
With the old Honda chassis Super Aguri gave the Formula One world at least some positive memories before its ill-fated collapse four races into 2008. Takuma Sato memorably overtook Alonso on on his way to a 6th place at Canada, which had it not been for Aguri pitstop calamities, it could have been fourth. The fact that this moment was one of Alonso's most embarrassing of his career may give some clue as to the reputation Super Aguri picked up as a competitive force during its short lifespan.
Indeed the team did feature a few 'comedians' and none with greater slapstick quality than Yuji Ide. He nearly ran over his pit crew and drove into the side of Christian Albers, not to mention that he wasn't the quickest of drivers. With such antics, you could be forgiven for thinking Aguri were attempting to make an F1 episode of Benny Hill. Unfortunately the FIA did not see the funny side and reprimanded the 'naughty' Ide of his Super Licence. They may not have been the greatest team but Super Aguri's 'tenatious Chiuhauhau' style endeared them to many race and comedy fans during its short stint. Sadly the team never really had the funds to make it and pulled out in dissarray early 2008. Aguri were still not bad compared to the worst of the early '90s, but are about the closest to that era (with the possible exception of Spyker) from the more demanding modern F1 racing cars.
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