Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: BlackJack’sBriefs
“You’ve got to ask yourself one question:‘Do I feel lucky?’”
As with the series on drivers, I started with the Wiki ‘List of Formula One Constructors’ (as it stood at the end of 2013) and quickly reduced 136 to 46 by removing the Champions, and those hopefuls who failed to last beyond two seasons (or only appeared intermittently for three seasons or so), and also those who only competed before 1958, when the Constructors Championship was inaugurated. I considered going back to 1950 (to match the Drivers) but decided it would involve a lot of work and might be contentious. After all, I didn’t take the drivers back beyond the start of their Championship years…
This left a couple of anomalies… Mercedes Benz had also raced in 1954-55… but… I consider the present (sans Neubauer) era has no connection with their past efforts (which are ineligible anyway), so their 2010-13 efforts were allowed to compete for a place here… although, by the end of 2014, they might well be exempt… 😉 Alfa Romeo are in the same situation and, for much the same reason, their 1979-85 era is allowed to qualify.
Honda provided a different problem – same company, but competing forty years apart – and both eligible for this list – so I separated the two eras as Honda-I (1964-68) and Honda-II (2006-08).
With Connaught and Porsche, who straddled the divide, I simply deleted their pre-1958 results… but Maserati are a different case as the works team pulled out after 1957 and the privateers who campaigned the tired 250F for a further three years had little success. It is easier, and more diplomatic, to discount them.
The muddled years of Frank Williams Racing Cars (1972-76) are a trifle confusing, so were left alone, as they didn’t achieve much anyway. Minardi, similarly, changed ownership occasionally but, even though the Paul Stoddart era could be separated, it continued in the Minardi tradition, and was regarded as one team. The March team came and went between 1970-1992 and are left as a single entity, but their 1990-91 seasons run by Leyton House have been separated.
Lola is the biggest headache because, although they built F1 cars between 1962-1997, they only entered as a works team in 1967-68… and then only one car, in just one event each year. However, all their semi-works / private entries counted towards the World Championships and it would be absurd to pretend they never existed. For convenience all their appearances are grouped together.
Then there is the chaos that is: (ex-Toleman) Benetton / Benetton-Renault / Renault-F1 / Genii / Lotus-Renault- GP / Lotus-F1 / and now, Lotus-Genii-et al-F1, etc… Although they can be discounted by having previously won as both Benetton and as Renault, some might assert that for the past two years (which would anyway be too brief to qualify them here) they have been ‘Lotus F1 Team’, which is something completely different. Equally, some might claim they are currently something different altogether, other than a professional F1 GP team,…! As they seem unable to make up their minds who they are, or where they are going, and seem to be in a similar situation to where Prost found itself in 2001… for the moment, they are out.
With 43 eligible constructors, the number-crunching began – again ignoring the official scores because the scoring system changed many times over the years – and I don’t like them anyway…! Instead I used the same basic method as with the Drivers: pole=4; win=3; fastest lap=2; and additional podium (i.e. 2nd & 3rd)=1 points… and divided the scores by the number of entries (not the number of races) during their campaign years.
13 constructors were quickly eliminated as they failed to score a single point. Conveniently there was a fairly natural break between 20 and 21 which provided me with my requirement but, before finalising the list, I made a little subjective adjustment… Constructors with better than average resources, or were working on a comparatively shoestring budget, were moved one place, up or down, in an attempt to be ‘fair’…
I also gave a little extra credit if less successful teams had nevertheless made some worthwhile contribution to F1 history – encouraging young drivers or new designers, for example.
“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Born in Parma in 1936 Gian Paolo Dallara studied as an aeronautical engineer and started work at Ferrari in 1960, moving to Maserati the following year, and thence to Lamborghini as chief designer in 1963 – at the age of 26 – where he was partly responsible for the Espada and the Miura.
In 1968 Dallara moved again, to the de Tomaso company, to produce an F2 car, for Jonathan Williams and Jackie Ickx, with a Frank Williams entry for Piers Courage and, for 1970, he was designing an F1 car for de Tomaso (505) & Frank Williams Racing Cars and, three years later, he founded Dallara Automobili… producing sports cars, and then F3 cars for Walter Wolf Racing, and even a brief foray into F3000.
In 1974 Dallara collaborated with Williams again, on the Iso-Marlboro F1 car, which became the FW01 cars.
The first single-seater with the Dallara name was a F3 car in 1981 which has since established a near-monopoly in Italy, as well as success in Germany, France (winning every race in all three championships in 1993), Britain, Japan and elsewhere, for over twenty years.
From this point Gian Paolo’s meteoric rise slowed down a little, as he paused for breath, although his output remained prolific. In 1988 Dallara was commissioned to build F1 cars for BMS Scuderia Italia, for Alex Caffi to drive, but the results were not inspiring.
In 1989 Andrea de Cesaris joined Caffi and reached the podium in Canada, while Caffi actually qualified third in Hungary, with the team able to finish a lowly 8th in the Championship.
For 1990 Caffi moved to Arrows and was replaced by Emanuele Pirro although Gianni Morbidelli substituted for a sick Pirro in the first two races but, apart from another 3rd on the grid (de Cesaris, at Phoenix), it was a disastrous year for the team.
In 1991 the Ford DFV was swapped for the new Judd GV mill, and de Cesaris moved to the new Jordan team, and was replaced by JJ Lehto, who scored a second podium for the team, in San Marino, and a return to 8th in the Championship.
For 1992 the team acquired one-year-old Ferrari engines, along with Pierluigi Martini (replacing Pirro), who twice finished 6th to give the team it’s final two Championship points. There had apparently been some friction between Dallara and Ferrari which caused the team to put their engines in a Lola chassis for 1993, which did them no favours, and they pulled out mid-season.
It would be eighteen years before a Dallara reappeared on an F1 grid but, five years later, the company was manufacturing the IR7, for the Indy Racing League with, from 1997-2003, considerable success.
In 1998 Honda planned a return to F1 as a constructor, and engaged Dallara to make the chassis but, after the death of Harvey Postlethwaite the plan, and the Honda RA099, was aborted.
However, Dallara went from strength to strength in North America and by 2006 the IR05 was being used by 80% of drivers in the series and, when Panoz decided to concentrate on the ChampCar series, became the de facto ‘spec car’ for 2007, and all IndyCar teams used the IR05 for the following five years. Dallara has also provided the ‘spec’ chassis for the IndyLights series from 2002 to the present.
Dallara took on Gary Anderson, with a contract to build chassis for the new Russian Midland team for 2006 but after Midland bought out Jordan in 2005 its resources were combined with Jordan’s and this project, also, was aborted… and then Midland was quickly taken over by Spyker… who quickly disappeared altogether.
Finally Dallara’s return to F1 was brought about by a commission to build cars for the weakest entrant of Todt’s Toys ‘r’ Us, three new teams, Campos-Meta – who quickly metamorphosed as HRT/Hispania, who were severely strapped for cash and, with their bills unpaid, Dallara withdrew from the operation. It was also suggested that the chassis provided were not ‘up to standard’ (difficult to believe, considering Dallara’s years of top-level experience) but this seems to have been more an attempt to justify Hispania’s behaviour, and as a defence against Dallara’s legal claim. Hispania campaigned the car throughout the 2010 season without any development – and with just one aero-configuration, for all races – from Monaco to Monza.
Interestingly (perhaps) Hispania then tried to acquire the 2010 Toyota cars which suddenly reappeared on the market after the emergent Stefan GP team failed to get an FIA entry, and defaulted on the purchase. Zoran Stefanovic had lined up Nakajima to drive, along with, allegedly, Jacques Villeneuve – and with Maldonado as reserve. What a team that might have been…
It should be noted Virgin also subsequently discovered modern F1 is not a rich man’s game… and now Tony Fernandes seems to be agreeing…
After a five-year monopoly in America Dallara now produced their 4G car, for the IndyCar series, designated ‘DW’12, after Dan Wheldon. The intention was to produce the chassis/suspension unit, and have teams design and build their own bodywork/aero packages but this was deemed too costly by the teams and Dallara also provided ‘spec’ bodywork. It is now expected the teams will produce their own bodywork for 2015. It will be interesting to see if such a situation ever occurs in F1… The way F1 is currently moving it is a definite possibility.
Dallara cars have won twelve of the sixteen Indy-500’s they have contested and, in 2013, reached the 200 IndyCar victory milestone.
1998 – 2013
While Dallara were involved in all these top-level series they had also been commissioned to produce ‘spec’ cars for the World Series by Nissan which, in 2005, became World Series by Renault (or, WRS), and has been used as a ‘feeder series’ for F1 – in sixteen years seven WRS champions have moved up to F1 although only Alonso has made anything of it. Kubica should have done better, and Magnussen looks as if he might…
2005 – 2013
With the demise of F3000 Ecclestone and Briatore (from neither of whom would I buy a secondhand Airfix kit) sold the world on the idea of GP2 as another feeder series to F1 and, as if there was nobody else in the world capable of building cars, offered the chassis contract to Dallara… and, five years later, Dallara also laid down a full set of chassis for the new GP3, as a feeder series to GP2…
An advantage of GP2 over other series is that the races are usually held alongside the F1 GP events, giving the fledgling drivers great experience of F1 life, and have so far fed several drivers up the ladder: Nico Rosberg, Kovalainen, Hamilton, Piquet Jr., Glock, di Grassi, Bruno Senna, Hulkenberg, Petrov, Maldonado, Perez, Jules Bianchi, Grosjean, Valsecchi, Gutierez… Buemi, Chandhok, Chilton, d’Ambrosio, Ericsson, Kobayashi, Nakajima, Pic, Scott Speed, van der Garde, Yamamoto…
Some drivers have also reached F1 by other routes, and quickly slipped back to GP2… It should be noted that GP2 is designed to find F1 capable drivers and help them make that last step up. That few of them subsequently take the F1 Champion’s laurels should not be seen as a failure of the system – everybody has his limit and a championship in a lower category is no guarantee of the World Championship. It’s a feeder series to F1, and not necessarily to the Championship,
2010 – 2013
Just briefly on GP3, of the four champions, two of them, Gutierrez and Mitch Evans, made it to GP2, and Gutierrez then made it on to F1. The other two GP3 champions, Bottas and Kvyat, jumped straight to F1, and seem to be acquitting themselves quite nicely. Maybe ‘feeder’ series are needed more by those who are not really shining above their peers on talent alone – or is it all down to sponsorship…?
In 2012 the FIA conceived the FIA Formula-E Championship… for electrically-powered, single-seater racing cars – chassis by Dallara – power trains by McLaren – batteries by Williams. The ten ‘e-Prix’ (ghastly term…!) will have ten teams, with two drivers, each having two cars at his disposal. Pit stops will require each driver to ‘jump’ from his first car into his second car… and there will be an official two-hour pit-stop during the afternoon, to recharge the batteries. Couldn’t they have a ‘riding-mechanic’ with a spare battery and a pair of booster cables (jump leads)…?
The first race will be in Beijing in September, with the series continuing through the winter until June 2015.
Maybe they should run alongside the F1 races, instead of GP2, to stop the whining about the lack of noise.
The latest news for Dallara in F1 is the mooted collaboration with NASCAR team owner, Gene Haas, for a projected entry in 2015 – or maybe it’ll be 2016 – but, as of 9th April (2014), the expected, and promised FIA announcement has simply delayed making a decision. No reason has been given. Gene’s response was: “They don’t really make a decision until they’re sure what they want the decision to be.” I guess that makes sense, if you’re a lover of Monty Python… “They have a very – I want to call it – formal way of processing applications in the sense that there is no application,” Haas added. Seems pretty informal to this writer…! “I think what they do is they take that information, evaluate it, make their recommendations to I think it’s the F1’s owners association or next group of people, and the process goes on.” Does this guy really have any idea what he’s up against…?
It should be noted that Haas (who, it is rumoured, is now considering Ferrari engines, and chassis…) is also up against another attempt by Stefan GP, now with ex-HRT principal, Colin Kolles as ‘front-man’.
In 2008 Dallara collaborated with the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer, KTM, to produce a fascinating 2-seater, rear-engined, sports-car, the X-Bow – pronounced ‘Crossbow’. It’s fabulous front bodywork is designed to mimic the shape of a crossbow, with the inboard coil-springs cleverly looking like the propulsion unit for the bolt. I want one.
And, not content with making race cars for everyone else, Dallara has introduced the ‘Formulino’, somewhat in the concept of Formula Junior in the late 50’s, to bridge the cost gap between karts and F3. The basic monocoque tub is available in three versions: Base, Plus & Pro so, as a driver moves up through the formulae, he can ‘update’ his existing car, or even adapt it to enter more than one series at a time. Considering how many chassis get written off by inexperienced drivers it doesn’t seem likely there will be much left to update.
Throughout it’s existence Dallara has also been involved in building sports car chassis for Lancia, Abarth, Ferrari, Toyota, Audi, Chrysler, and Nissan, as well as a Daytona Prototype.
Currently Dallara produces up to 200 cars per year with more than 200 employees (sometimes as many as 500), with 90% of their business being done outside Italy.
In 2012 the company opened an engineering centre in Indianapolis, where it produces the current IndyCars. The same building also houses an edutainment centre, where visitors can learn how a racing car is designed, developed and produced.
Dallara might not have set the world of F1 alight but without them a huge amount of motor racing might not have happened – scores of young drivers would not have had a chance to test their mettle, and many veterans might not have been winning Championships. For about forty years Gian Paolo Dallara has been churning out racing cars like puffed wheat from a cannon.