Due to financial problems, the end of the 2012 season also marked the end of HRT’s existence in Formula One, after only three years. This made HRT the 16th team to disappear in the past two decades, alongside other important names that are no longer racing, such as Brabham, March or Team Lotus. Most of these teams were forced out of Formula One in the early 90’s when the large manufacturers entered the competition, leading to a dramatic increase in budgets required to develop competitive cars.
Besides huge name such as Brabham or Team Lotus, there are some other interesting teams that raced even less than HRT, with one of these teams not competing in a single race. So let’s take a look at the ‘90s and 2000s teams’ graveyard in Formula One:
1. Brabham (1962-1990)
Jack Brabham is the only driver in Formula One history who managed to win a World Championship with a team bearing his name. It happened during the 1966 season when the Australian’s team also won the Constructors’ Championship. The team achieved the same impressive performance the following year, but this time the Drivers’ Championship was won by Denny Hulme. Another important driver in Brabham’s history is the legendary Nelson Piquet, who was World Champion in 1981 and 1983.
Bernie Ecclestone was the team’s owner in the ‘70s and the ‘80s and other important names in Formula One that were also involved with Brabham are Ron Dennis and Charlie Whiting. After a turbulent period towards the end of the ‘80s, the team finally ended up being owned by Japanese engineering firm Middlebridge Group who shut it down after the 1992 season due to financial difficulties. An interesting fact is that, in 1992, one of the team’s drivers was Damon Hill, the future World Champion making his Formula One debut that season.
During its 30-year history, Brabham was a team that was constantly innovating, especially during the ‘70s and ‘80s, when Gordon Murray was its technical director. Among the technical innovations introduced by the British team, the most famous is probably the “fan car” that raced only once in Formula One, winning the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix (driver was Niki Lauda). What set this car apart from the rest was a huge fan at the rear, which claimed to be used for engine cooling but which actually sucked the air flowing beneath the car, generating incredible downforce. Immediately after the race, FIA changed regulations and the “fan car” became history.
2. Andrea Moda (1992)
The Italian team’s history is extremely short but filled with controversy. Founded by Italian shoe designer Andrea Sassetti, the team was unable to start in the first race of the 1992 season because the deposit for the new season wasn’t paid, it couldn’t race in Canada because engines were not paid for, missed the French Grand Prix due to a truckers’ strike and its owner was arrested in the team’s paddock during the Belgian Grand Prix for forging invoices.
Following the arrest of Sassetti, FIA banned the team for hurting the Championship’s image right before the next race, the Italian Grand Prix. But no one missed Andrea Mode, since the team managed to qualify for a single race, in Monaco (the driver was Roberto Moreno, but he had to abandon after just a few laps due to an engine problem).
3. March (1970-1992)
FIA’s former president Max Mosley was one of the team’s founders, but despite a 22-year activity in Formula One, March didn’t manage to achieve any impressive results. The team only won two races, Vittorio Brambilla at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix and Ronnie Peterson at the 1976 Italian Grand Prix.
Facing serious financial difficulties, the team was renamed to Leyton House in 1990, a season after which the then-unknown Adrian Newey was fired. The team also struggled in the following season, came back to the March name in 1992 and even though it had signed contracts with two drivers for the 1993 season, lack of funding forced the team’s owners to pull the plug.
4. Osella/Fondmetal (1980-1992)
Founded by Enzo Osella, the Italian team didn’t achieve any notable results during its 12-year existence. Actually, the team abandoned more than half of all Grand Prix it raced in and its drivers only managed to score points on two occasions: Jean-Pierre Jarier at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix and Piercarlo Ghinzani at the 1984 United States Grand Prix.
Before the 1990 season, the team was bought by Italian metalwork magnate Gabriele Rumi and at the end of the season was renamed after his company, Fondmetal. But the team still didn’t score any points and after the 1992 season it withdrew from Formula One.
5. Scuderia Italia (1988-1993)
Italian steel magnate Giuseppe Lucchini founded Scuderia Italia in 1988. The team raced with Dallara chassis until 1992 and its main achievements were two podiums, Andrea de Cesaris at the 1989 Canadian Grand Prix and JJ Lehto at the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix.
The team signed a partnership with British racing company Lola, but this didn’t pay off and at the end of the season Scuderia Italia merged with another struggling team, Minardi. The new team was called Minardi, so everyone considers this moment as the end of Scuderia Italia’s adventure in Formula One, after only five years.
6. Larrousse (1987-1994)
Founded by Gerard Larrousse and Didier Calmels, the Larrousse team made its Formula One debut in 1987, using chassis built by Lola. However, the only major performance was achieved by Aguri Suzuki, the Japanese driver placing third at Suzuka, in 1990, when Larrousse cars were powered by Lamborghini engines.
For the 1992 season, the team used Venturi chassis before deciding to build their own cars for the 1993 and 1994 seasons. But Larrousse still failed to impress and, after missing the first five races of the 1995 season due to lack of funding, prior to the San Marino Grand Prix, Gerard Larrousse announced that his team will stop racing in Formula One.
7. Team Lotus (1958-1994)
Without any doubt, Team Lotus is the most prestigious team to disappear from Formula One. The famous team was founded by Colin Chapman and it made its Formula One debut in the 1958 season. Throughout its history, Team Lotus scored 73 wins in 491 races, won seven Constructors’ Championships and its drivers won six Championships. Among the drivers that wrote history for Team Lotus we have big names such as Jim Clark, Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Nigel Mansell, Elio de Angelis or Ayrton Senna.
Following a successful period in the late ‘70s, the team started having troubles after Chapman’s death in 1982, when control was taken over by Peter Warr. Even though talented drivers like Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen or Nelson Piquet raced for the team, nothing could be made to save it and, with debts piling up, in 1994 the team applied for an Administration Order to protect it from creditors. After the 1994 season it was bought by David Hunt (James Hunt’s brother), but development of a new Lotus car was dropped. Even though the team made an alliance with Pacific Grand Prix and raced in the 1995 season under the Pacific Team Lotus name, everyone considers 1994 to be Team Lotus’s last season in Formula One and the end of one of Formula One’s most prestigious teams.
8. Pacific Grand Prix (1994-1995)
After a successful career in lower formulae, Pacific’s founder Keith Wiggins thought it was time for his team to step up to Formula One. The team made its debut in the 1994 season but its two pilots only qualified for two races and didn’t finish either one. For the 1995 season, the team merged with Team Lotus and raced as Pacific Team Lotus in the beginning, before changing its name back to Pacific Grand Prix. However, the team still didn’t manage to get any notable results, its drivers finishing only 5 races during the entire season. So after the season ended, the team withdrew from Formula One and got back to Formula 3000.
9. Simtek (1994-1995)
Founded by Max Mosley and Nick Wirth, Simtek made its Formula One debut in 1994, being also involved in constructing wind tunnels and chassis for other teams. Unfortunately, the team didn’t get any notable results and is mostly known for Roland Ratzenberger fatal crash during qualifiers for the San Marino Grand Prix, only one day ahead of Ayrton Senna’s death. As for results, the best one is a ninth place occupied by Jean-Marc Gounon at the French Grand Prix. After its main sponsor, MTV Europe, reduced financing at the end of the 1994 season, Simtek went into voluntary liquidation the following season, after only five races, the last one being the 1995 Monaco Grand Prix.
10. Forti Corse (1995-1996)
Forti Corse’s Formula One history is pretty similar to Pacific’s: it was quite successful in lower formulae but couldn’t handle the high demands of Formula One. The team debuted in 1995 mainly funded by sponsorship brought by Pedro Paulo Diniz, but after the Brazilian driver left for Ligier before the 1996 season, the team went bankrupt and was forced to retire after the first 10 races of the season. Overall, Forti Corse competed in 27 races, without getting a single point.
11. Lola (1997)
Lola was one of the top suppliers for Formula One teams ever since it was founded, in the late ‘50s. The company thought about building a car of its own, but dropped these plans several times. However, this changed in mid-1990s when they decided to enter Formula One with their own car. The debut was scheduled for the 1998 season, but its main sponsor, MasterCard, put pressure on the team to enter competition one year earlier. Forced by these circumstances, the MasterCard Lola Formula One team debuted in 1997, with an untested car and an uncompetitive Ford engine.
The results were tragic: Lola cars didn’t qualify for the first race, the Australian Grand Prix, and prior to the Brazilian Grand Prix officials announced the team’s withdrawal, citing financial and technical problems. This probably makes Lola the team with the shortest history in the competition, and even though they didn’t race in a single Grand Prix, the qualifiers in Australia mark their existence in Formula One.
12. Ligier/Prost (1976-2001)
French team Ligier got decent results right at their debut: two podiums in the first season (1976) and several wins in each of the following five seasons (the Ligier driver to win most races was Jacque Laffite, with 6 wins). However, after 1982 the team didn’t rank higher than fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship and their only win was the one achieved by Olivier Panis at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.
At the end of the 1996 season, the team was bought by Alain Prost and renamed to Prost Grand Prix. Just like Ligier, the “new” team achieved two podiums in their debut season, 1997, but the only notable result was a second place by Jarno Trulli at the 1999 Austrian Grand Prix. The team would eventually go bankrupt right before the 2002 season, mainly due to Alain Prost not being able to find sponsorhip for the new season.
13. Arrows (1978-2002)
The Arrows Formula One team was founded by five investors (the name comes from their initials). Even though it didn’t win any races or Championships and never finished above the fifth place (in 1988) in the Constructors’ Championship, the team’s best results are five second places, the last one at Hungaroring in 1997.
Between 1991 and 1996, the team was known as Footwork Arrows, after the main sponsor’s name, Footwork Express, a Japanese logistics company led by Wataru Ohashi. In 1996, the team was bought by Tom Walkinshaw, who renamed it to TWR Arrows and who had big plans for it, signing Damon Hill (was the reigning Champion) and Pedro Paulo Diniz. However, things didn’t go too well for the team and in 2002, facing serious financial difficulties, Arrows was withdrawn from the Champhionship. A group of companies bought the team’s assets and tried to race in the 2003 season, but their application was rejected by FIA.
14. Super Aguri (2006-2008)
This Formula One team has a pretty interesting history, being founded by Honda for Japanese driver Takuma Sato, who was left out of the official Honda team after the signing of Rubens Barrichello and Jensen Button. Unofficially called “Honda B” team, Super Aguri was led by former Formula One driver Aguri Suzuki and managed to score four points in the 2007 season after Sato ranked eighth in Spain and sixth in Canada. However, during a 2008 season that also marked Honda’s official retirement from Formula One, Super Aguri was also shut down after the fourth race of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix, without any notable performance during its existence.
15. HRT (2010-2012)
Initially known as Campos Meta 1 and Hispania Racing, HRT made its Formula One debut at the 2010 Australian Grand Prix and it immediately became the worst out of the three new teams entering Formula One that year. However, favorable circumstances allowed it to overtake Marussia/Virgin Racing and finish 11th in the Constructors’ Championship in 2010 and 2011.
An attempt to resuscitate the team was made by Spanish investment fund Thesan Capital in 2012, but it failed and the team was shut down immediately after the last race of the season, at Interlagos. The best result in the team’s history is Vitantonio Liuzzi’s 13th place at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix.
16. Toyota Racing
Perhaps one of the biggest failures in recent Formula One history was the Toyota Racing team, owned by the Japanese carmaker. Based in Germany, the team made its debut in the 2002 season. After three mediocre seasons, the 2005 season was the best one in the team’s history. With Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher as drivers, Toyota Racing finished the season in the 4th place in the Constructors’ Championship, with best results being two consecutive 2nd places by Jarno Trulli.
However, the team failed to live up to expectations and began drawing criticism for its mediocre results, despite being one of the best funded teams in Formula One. This made Toyota officials worried about the company’s image and immediately after the 2009 season the team was pulled out from Formula One.
So these are the most important teams that disappeared from Formula One in the past two decades. Even though there were several other names that are no longer in Formula One, such as Minardi or Virgin Racing, these teams were sold to new owners and not shut down, so we don’t really consider them extinct.
But how about you, do you miss any of these teams? Do you have any great memories about either one?Teams that Disappeared from Formula 1 in the Past 2 Decades,