The #F1 Bar Exam: 08 May 2014

Welcome to another week of TheJudge13 #F1 Bar Exam.

Last week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, team and race in the photo. In how many Formula 1 races did he participate and how many wins did he have?

The answer(s) I was looking for were: The driver in the photo is Nicola Larini driving a Modena Team Spa, Lambo 291, Lamborghini 3512 3.5L V12 during the 1991 Italian Grand Prix at Imola. Unfortunately he failed to qualify for this race.

He competed in a total of 75 races (only qualified for 50) but never won one. He finished second in the tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix on a substitute outing for Ferrari, replacing an injured Jean Alesi. After this he only scored points once more in his F1 career.

Nicola Larini was an Italian Formula One driver, born in 1964, who won the Italian Formula 3 Championship in 1986 driving for Coloni in a Dallara. In 1987 Coloni entered the final two rounds of Formula One and Larini was chosen as the driver. He didn’t qualify for the first race, being 12 seconds off the pace, but managed to get his car into the last grid spot for the second race. Unfortunately his suspension failed after 8 laps.

He got a drive in Formula One for Osella in 1988 where, during the rainy conditions of the Canadian Grand Prix, he managed to get his car as high as 3rd before he had to drop out because of a mechanical failure. He continued with Osella in 1989 but only finished one race. He moved to Ligier in 1990 but had another disappointing year with the car unable to compete for the podiums it had got only a few years before. He then got a drive with Modena for 1991.

1991 was the first (and only) year for Modena to compete in Formula One. I did initially think it might have been near the bottom of teams never to win a World Championship, but there were actually a lot of worse teams in the history of Formula One. Needless to say, they didn’t manage to compete at the level they were hoping for, considering their mechanical, technical and financial backing (though this unfortunately was short lived).

The story of Modena starts with Lamborghini. Chrysler took over Lamborghini in 1987 and they were keen for Lamborghini to enter Formula One. Obviously they had money to burn and thought it would be more exciting to enter Formula One than provide good returns to their shareholders! And if you’re going to enter Formula One you have more chance of success if you start big. They proceeded to hire ex-Ferrari designer, Mauro Forghieri who had taken Ferrari to four Driver’s Championships and eight Constructor’s Championships, to design their engine. They built a 3.5 litre V12 engine which they supplied to Larrousse in 1989 where Philippe Alliot scored their first points at Jerez, and Aguri Suzuki got them a podium position the following year.

Mexican businessman Fernando Gonzalez Luna decided he wanted to start a Mexican Formula One team and after raising significant backing from Mexican investors persuaded Lamborghini to provide him with their V12 engines. His chassis was designed and build by Lamborghini Engineering, overseen by former Ferrari team manager Daniele Audetto. If you’re going to enter Formula One you may as well aim high with your personnel. So the GLAS team was formed, but they only lasted until June 1990 when Luna disappeared, taking all the investors’ money with him. He had seen the light and decided that there were easier ways of making money than making and racing Formula 1 cars – he and the money were never seen again.

As Lamborghini had already invested significant time and money into the project they decided to find someone else to run the team for them. Carlo Patrucco became their team principle and they signed Nicola Larini and Eric van de Poele. The team was named Modena as Lamborghini had already foreseen that funding a Formula One team would be a losing battle and were loath to associate the Lamborghini name with a team that looked like it had little chance of success. They were correct in this assumption as the team struggled to qualify with Larini managing to qualify for three races and van de Poele only one. Despite Lamborghini’s desire to distance themselves from the team, the media persisted in referring to them as the Lambo team.

Their best finish was Larini’s 7th place at the US Grand Prix at Phoenix. They did come excruciatingly close to scoring points at Imola where van de Poele was running 5th until he had fuel pressure problems four laps from the end. Lamborghini only put enough funds into getting the team started at the beginning of the year and with no further financial backing the team struggled throughout the season and pulled out at the end of the year after amassing a huge amount of debt.

As mentioned above, Larini’s major success in Formula One was second place at the now infamous 1994 San Marino race behind Michael Schumacher when he had two races driving for Ferrari replacing an injured Jean Alesi. He also got points in Australia in 1997 when he drove five races for Sauber but left the team after having difficulties getting on with Peter Sauber. He finished his career being moderately successful driving touring cars, and although retiring officially in 2009 still does some racing.

The story of Modena sums up Formula One well – you have to be a bit mad to consider entering it and there is probably no easier way to rid yourself of a large amount of money, even if you have a proven engine and a world class designer on your side. It’s possibly more cost effective to just burn your money, because then you won’t be left with a huge debt! It is hard to not think what could have been if the team had had access to the money initially raised to fund the team as their engine and designers seemed to have the potential to succeed.

Well done to Taflach, Jim, The13thDuke, Tim, Thomas888, Cassius42, Milestone11, Johnny, Erik, Tony and AV2290!

This week’s question(s): Sticking with the prehistoric theme, can you name the driver and team in the photo. How many F1 races did the team compete in and how many did they win?

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