FIA president Max Mosley believes Formula One cannot rely on car manufacturers and independent teams will always be needed. While he welcomes the manufacturers' involvement in the sport, Mosley laid out a cautionary tale of the comings and goings...
FIA president Max Mosley believes Formula One cannot rely on car manufacturers and independent teams will always be needed. While he welcomes the manufacturers' involvement in the sport, Mosley laid out a cautionary tale of the comings and goings of car companies in F1.
"The car industry is a welcome and valuable participant in Formula One," he said. "But grand prix racing is not the industry's core business and no car company can be expected to maintain a constant presence. Company chiefs change and what today is fixed policy can tomorrow be seen as a mistake of the previous administration. The industry is entitled to come and go as it pleases and will always do so."
"Those who think that Formula One has no need for independent teams and can rely entirely on the big car companies should perhaps consider the following brief chronology."
BMW 1982-1986, 2000-
BMW entered Formula One with Brabham in 1982 and their engines powered Nelson Piquet to the World Championship in 1983. The company stayed on until 1986 when it announced it was quitting Formula One. In 1997 the company announced plans for a new Formula One programme with Williams which began in 2000.
Fiat/Alfa Romeo 1904-1914 (F), 1922-24(F), 1923-1925 (A), 1927 (F), 1929-1932 (A), 1937-1940 (A), 1947-1951 (A) 1979-1985 (A)
The Fiat company's early successes began in 1904 when Vincenzo Lancia won at Brescia. The company remained active in the sport until war broke out in 1914. After the war Fiat sent a team to the French Grand Prix in 1922, but withdrew early in 1924 because of competition from Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo first appeared with a factory team in 1923, but withdrew after one of its drivers was killed and was not seen again that year.
A new car was built for 1924 but the death of Antonio Ascari at the French Grand Prix in 1925 resulted in Alfa Romeo withdrawing from the sport and the cars being locked away. Fiat returned in 1927, but soon withdrew because of the overwhelming speed of rival Delage. In 1929 Alfa Romeo came back with a new factory team. That lasted only until 1932 when the cars were locked away again, although they were later made available to Enzo Ferrari on occasion.
At the end of 1936 Alfa Romeo set up a new competition department under Wifredo Ricart. Ferrari fought for two years for the control of his team, but eventually left. After the war Alfa Romeo was dominant using the Alfettas, which had been built before the war by Ferrari, but Ferrari's own team became more and more competitive and Alfa Romeo withdrew in 1951.
It was not until the 1970s that the tuning company Autodelta lured Alfa Romeo back into Formula One with a flat-12 engine for the Brabham team, after briefly supplying March with a V8. In 1979 the company decided to build its own cars and after these failed to impress, Autodelta was dumped in favour of Paolo Pavanello's Euroracing. When Alfa Romeo was taken over by Fiat in 1985 the new parent decided that only Ferrari should represent it in Formula One and the Alfa Romeo team was disbanded.
Ford 1967, 1986-
Ford's presence in Formula One has been disguised over the years thanks to the involvement of Cosworth. The two names were synonymous from 1967 onwards when Ford funded the construction of the Ford Cosworth DFV. After the initial investment DFVs were purchased from Cosworth and tuned by a variety of different firms. The DFV was the most successful engine in grand prix racing history with 154 victories.
Ford's official re-entry into Formula One did not come until 1986. After Carl Haas's FORCE team ran out of money, Ford did a deal with Benetton for the period 1987-1990 and began to build new, naturally-aspirated Formula One engines. Benetton remained the factory team until 1994 when it switched to Renault. Ford then joined forces with Sauber for a couple of years before throwing its weight behind Stewart Grand Prix in 1997. The team was purchased by Ford in 2000 and became Jaguar Racing.
Honda 1964-1968, 1983-1992, 1999, 2000-
Soichiro Honda was himself a racer in the 1930s. After huge post-war success in motorcycles, his company began to make small sports cars for the US market and built a Formula One car in 1963. After talks with various Formula One teams Honda decided to go it alone with its own chassis in 1964. The cars gradually improved and began winning races in 1965. A new relationship with Lola produced a car in 1967, but after the death of Jo Schlesser in one of the cars in 1968, Honda disbanded the team.
The company returned to Formula One in 1983 supplying engines to the Spirit Formula One team and in 1984 to Williams. The success that followed was impressive, even though Honda left Williams at the end of 1987 to join forces with McLaren. Honda's success continued until the end of 1992 when the company withdrew from Formula One. Honda decided to fund its own Formula One team and in 1999 Honda Racing Developments began testing a prototype chassis, but cancelled the programme and struck an engine supply deal with BAR instead.
Lancia entered Formula One in 1954 with the D50 chassis, but ran into financial difficulties soon afterwards and was sold in the middle of 1955. The racing operation was sold to Enzo Ferrari and one of the cars took Juan Manuel Fangio to the World Championship in 1956.
Mercedes-Benz 1900-1909, 1913-1914, 1922-1924, 1931-1940, 1954-1955, 1993-
Mercedes entered racing in 1900 and was involved in grand prix racing on and off until 1909, when it turned its attention to the United States. The company returned in 1913 but its involvement was cut short by World War I in 1914. The firm returned with its 1914 cars in 1922, but lack of success led to withdrawal in 1924.
Mercedes-Benz returned in the 1930s with backing from the German government and became such a powerful force that the only opposition left was Auto Union, which was also funded by the German government. That involvement was ended by World War II. The company did not return to Formula One until 1954. Mercedes withdrew from the sport in 1955 following the Le Mans disaster.
It planned to return to Formula One with a factory team run by Peter Sauber but in November 1991 the Mercedes-Benz board vetoed the programme and Sauber was forced to go it alone. When it was clear in 1993 that the Sauber had potential, Mercedes-Benz bought into Ilmor Engineering and the engines became known as Mercedes V10s. The arrangement with Sauber ended at the start of 1995 when Mercedes formed a new partnership with McLaren.
Porsche 1962-63, 1983-1987 (as TAG), 1990
With new regulations in 1961, Porsche entered Formula One with a factory team, but withdrew when the regulations changed again in 1963. In 1981 the company was asked to build a turbocharged Formula One engine for McLaren with funding from TAG. The engine was a success and the programme lasted until the end of 1987, when McLaren switched to Honda and Porsche was unable to find a new backer and withdrew. The firm landed backing in 1990 from Footwork, but the V12 engine was not a success and Porsche withdrew.
Renault 1899-1903, 1905-1908, 1977-1986, 1989-1997, 2002-
Renault was a company built on racing success, including the company's famous victory in the Paris-Vienna race in 1902. The following year Marcel Renault was killed during the Paris-Madrid race. His brother Louis briefly lost interest in the sport but the firm returned in 1905. Factory driver Ferenc Szisz won the first Grand Prix at Le Mans in 1906.
After the 1908 event Renault disappeared from the sport. In 1977 Renault entered Formula One and was soon winning races but failed to win the World Championship and the team was disbanded in 1985. Engines were supplied to customer teams until the end of 1986. Renault returned in 1989 as an engine supplier and enjoyed success in the 1990s with Williams and Benetton before withdrawing again at the end of 1997. In 2000 Renault bought the Benetton Formula One team and this was transformed into a new Renault Sport team in 2002.