The Formula One Teams That Never Were

As the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula One is an expensive endeavour where only the most committed, moneyed and resourceful organisations have a chance of making the grid, let alone being competitive.

With every part of the car, from motorsport gears, to wheel covers to even the wing mirrors being carefully crafted to maximise aerodynamic grip, funding an F1 team can cost so much that a cost cap has been introduced into the sport to limit the gap between smaller and larger teams.

This has led to several teams coming in that whilst gutsy and brave, were far off the pace, such as Coloni, Life, Andrea Moda, Forti, Mastercard Lola, Caterham, Manor, HRT and Super Aguri, amongst many others.

However, a story that is even more fascinating is the teams that ultimately failed to make the grid, despite plans and even development on cars, with their stories often having a rather interesting impact on F1 as a whole.

First Racing

One of the first examples of a team pulling out when they realised just how out of their depth they were was First Racing, a team founded by Formula 3000 racer Lamberto Leoni.

With a Judd V8 engine, future British Touring Car Champion Gabriele Tarquini and a fascinatingly low-walled car designed by Richard Divila, they were planning to have a go at qualifying in one of the biggest and most competitive fields in F1 history, with over 40 racers trying to fill 26 qualifying spots.

Unfortunately, the autoclave had a major temperature error, making the chassis fragile, dangerous and unable to pass the crash test the FIA had set.

They used an epoxy adhesive to quickly fix the chassis, which helped it pass the test but at the cost of making it so overweight, it was uncompetitive.

Mr Leoni decided that rather than race an “interesting flowerpot”, he pulled out, but the car would later be used as part of the truly diabolical Life F1 effort.

Phoenix Finance

The story of DART Grand Prix, or Phoenix Finance to use its proper name, is a story of financial collapse, subterfuge and a desperate attempt to use the downfall of one F1 team to save another.

Phoenix Finance was a banking firm that bought assets from Prost Grand Prix (formerly race winner Ligier), a team that had collapsed at the end of the 2001 F1 Season, and believed that because of this they had bought Prost’s entry into the sport, instead of having to pay $48m for a new team.

The FIA disagreed, believing that entries could not be bought or sold, only teams. This was why Stewart could sell their team to Ford who sold their team to Red Bull and still be considered the same team and not have to pay the fee.

What makes this even wilder is that it would later emerge that Tom Walkinshaw, boss of Arrows and who had pledged to assist the new team, allegedly created the plan to resurrect Prost as Phoenix Finance purely to take their share of the television revenue and prize money to help save his own team.

This didn’t work, and by the end of 2002 after deliberately failing to qualify for the French GP, Arrows also went out of business.

US F1 Team

Before the Haas F1 team made it onto the grid as an American team, US F1 attempted to make it onto the 2010 F1 grid, led by veteran journalist Peter Windsor and Haas technical director Ken Anderson.

Problems arose very quickly, with the plan to build their cars in Charlotte, North Carolina proving to be unrealistic, micromanagement by Mr Anderson causing exceptional delays, and their primary investor, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, pulling his funding.

A last-ditch effort to merge the team with Zoran Stefanovic’s Stefan Grand Prix project was unsuccessful, the company was taken off the entry list for the 2010 season, and went out of business by April 2010.

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