With a four-week summer break, such rare time away from the racetrack should be used to recharge the batteries, perhaps even ‘relax’ for the F1 circus.
For one team however, it’s far from beaches and cocktails.
Rumours of unpaid drivers, unpaid supplies, and nail biting to the extreme have seen Sauber F1’s future thrown into serious doubt. Can they pull through? Here’s a reminder of the last five teams whose financial plight got the better of them.
Campos Meta F1/Hispania/HRT
They never really took off, did they?
Formally named Campos Meta, and then named Hispania Racing, the team was born alongside Virgin F1 and Team Lotus in 2010 under a thick cloak of uncertainty.
In three seasons of F1, the doubts were justified, with several ownership shifts, an affinity to pay drivers regardless of talent, and a car that never threatened to rise from the back row of the grid. In 2012 the team fell to its knees and liquidated, with their assets sold to an automotive recycling firm.
So, despite a raft of tasty looking cars, and introducing Red Bull’s 2014 driver (maybe) Daniel Ricciardo to the world of F1, HRT really did not make an impact in their three seasons of F1.
Everybody’s favourite underdog, Super Aguri entered F1 in 2006 with a 4-year old former Arrows chassis. Not the most convincing start to life in F1, but Aguri Suzuki had earned his place on the grid and gave fan favourite Takuma Sato a race seat – surely worthy inclusion in itself!
After a lacklustre debut season, including the coming and going of Yuki Ide (perhaps F1’s most unimpressive driver, ever), the team made it through to 2007. With Anthony Davidson partnering Sato in much more competitive machinery, the duo enjoyed a promising season highlighted by Sato’s overtake of then-current World Champion Fernando Alonso during the Canadian Grand Prix.
A subsequent finish of 6th for smiley Sato would be the teams highest ever finish. The highs of 2007 however were followed by the lows of 2008, when, after an ill-fated takeover bid subsided, the team entered liquidation shortly after being refused entry to the Turkish Grand Prix due to unpaid bills to engine supplier Honda.
Ultimately it was a rather undignified exit for a team that added a hint of sunshine and smile to F1 in its short existence.
The first thing that springs to mind when Arrows is mentioned, is that smoking hot Orange and black livery…
Now I’ve got that out my system, let’s look get down to business.
Despite many guises Arrows sat in F1 from 1978 to 2002, with a range of successes and failures in between. Hungary 1997 marks the team’s most memorable race, after Damon Hill’s flawless drive in a largely uncompetitive car to a seemingly effortless victory was left in tatters, thanks to component failure late in the race. This left Jacques Villenueve open to sweep up the win with Hill limping home in a still heroic 2nd place.
Arrow’s demise came in the form of – yes, you guessed it – financial difficulties faced in 2002. With former drivers Pedro Diniz and Jos Verstappen suing the then Tom Walkinshaw-ran team for breach of contract, coupled with underlying funding shortages, the squad’s piggy bank had run dry. Their last appearance came in the 2002 French Grand Prix after drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi deliberately failed to qualify.
With three-time world champion Alain Prost at the helm, the prospects of Prost F1 always seemed strong. The team was born out of the deceased Ligier team and entered it’s first of five F1 seasons in 1997. That inaugural season would prove to be their finest, with 21 points on the board courtesy of drivers Oliver Panis, Jarno Truli and Shinji Nakano and 6th in the Constructor’s Championship.
Yet, despite the backing from several large French companies, such as Total, Gauloise and Canal Plus, plus the acquisition of Peuguot engines, the following years saw a severe decline in form. With Prost becoming a consistent bottom-end outfit the team still fielded an array of strong F1 peddlers; Jean Alesi, Olivier Panis, Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Truli, and very nearly – following a 2000 pre-season test – Jenson Button.
But the 2001 season saw money outweigh talent; Prost himself had fallen out with engine-supplier Peugeot, yet managed to scramble together a deal with Ferrari (rebadged as ‘Acer’ units) for the season ahead. Despite pre-season hype of a fast car (the team ran Alesi’s car at minimal fuel to look fast for potential sponsors) it was another poor showing. Lack of sponsorship and a mountain of debt saw Prost F1 closed for business in early 2002.
And we save the best (or is that the worst?) till last.
Perhaps the finest farce in F1 history, if not the shortest. Lola, or MasterCard Lola as it was known, was born on reasonably sensible principles; announced in 1995, the team first tested a prototype chassis that year with the hope of entering the F1 paddock as an outright team in the ‘near future’.
It all seemed very sensible, taking a few years to prepare and gear-up for an outright assault in F1 with significant backing from MasterCard and vast experience as a successful F1 chassis manufacturer. How could it all go wrong?
However it all began to unravel in 1996. With team boss Eric Broadley expressing his desire to enter in 1998, and backer MasterCard applying pressure for the team to enter a year earlier in 1997, MasterCard won. This left Lola under-prepared and panicking.
This resulted in MasterCard Lola turning up to the 1997 Australian Grand Prix with a relatively untested car, a bodge-job engine in the form of a Ford V8 (not the in-house Lola V10 they had hoped to use), and the world’s eyes trained on them to fail. Unsurprisingly they did.
Ten and thirteen seconds off of the pace in qualifying, the team’s drivers Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset were refused to race. Following this shambles, the team pulled the plug. No finance, a dire technical state, and pure humiliation saw this once promising concept reduced to rubble.