The 2015 Formula 1 season gets underway this weekend. A quick canter through the statistics shows that, of the nine teams that will line up on the grid, only two – Manor Marussia and Force India – have never won a race. We suspect that is the lowest ratio of non-winners there has ever been.
The 65-year history of F1 is littered with teams that failed to achieve the ultimate goal and never managed to win a race. And yet some of those teams stuck around for season after season, hoping they would eventually find success.
Here we bring you the five longest-lived teams that never won a race, the worst F1 teams in the history of the sport.
Arrows – 393 races
Arrows was founded by Italian financier Franco Ambrosio and a number of ex-Shadow staff, including former racer Jackie Oliver and designer Tony Southgate.
The team debuted at the Brazilian GP in 1978. Through the Eighties, it achieved solid mid-field results. In the early Nineties, Japanese investment saw the name change to Footwork, but team boss Oliver remained in charge.
In 1996, hugely successful touring car and sports car specialist TWR bought Arrows. Boss Tom Walkinshaw signed reigning champion Damon Hill for ’97 and the squad came heart-breakingly close to winning the Hungarian GP, a component failure dropping Hill from the lead a few laps from home.
The doors closed part-way through the 2002 season amid expensive legal wrangles. In 393 races, Arrows scored 167 points, one pole position and eight podium finishes.
Minardi – 346 races
Giancarlo Minardi’s eponymous team entered F1 in 1985, after moderate success in the second-tier Formula 2 series. Through the late Eighties and early Nineties, the Italian squad picked up the odd points-scoring finish, but slipped to the tail-end as the grid shrank.
By ’94 money was becoming a problem and Minardi partnered with fellow struggler Scuderia Italia, then wheel manufacturer Fondmetal, entering under those names. Points were rare, but the fans loved the plucky outfit.
The writing was on the wall in 2001, but airline magnate Paul Stoddart came to the rescue. Points were still rare, but the outspoken Stoddart was a popular figure in the paddock and he gave both Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber their first F1 drives.
Stoddart sold the team to Red Bull at the end of 2005, who renamed it Toro Rosso and used it as a proving ground for junior drivers, among them a certain Sebastian Vettel. In 346 races, Minardi scored 38 points, but took no poles, fastest laps or podiums.
Osella – 172 races
Italian constructor Osella started out fielding Abarth sports cars, eventually taking over the factory effort before building its own small-capacity machines, achieving much success in the two-litre category.
A move into single-seaters was the logical next step, but forays in F3 and F2 were faltering at best. A rather optimistic move into F1 followed in 1980.
The cars weren’t much cop, development stymied by a constant flow of different drivers. A supply of factory Alfa Romeo engines from ’83 relieved some of the financial pressure, but it wasn’t a particularly competitive or reliable motor.
Alfa pulled the plug at the end ’88 and the team struggled through another two seasons. It was taken over by Fondmetal for ’91, subsequently joining forces with Minardi. If nothing else, Osella managed to survive a decade in F1 on a barely-there budget, which was an achievement in itself. In 172 races, Osella scored just five points.
Toyota – 140 races
You can forgive a tiny team with no money for not winning. But the world’s biggest car manufacturer with effectively limitless resources? Not so much.
Toyota would probably rather forget about its seven-year stint in F1. After ten years of success in world rallying and Japanese and American sports car racing, it turned it’s attention to F1.
It entered the fray in 2002, scoring just two points. Through the years that followed, the team was a regular mid-field runner and picked up the odd podium finish, but that all important win remained elusive.
On paper, Toyota should have succeeded. After all, they spent untold millions, possibly billions. But there was too much interference from higher up the company and it never secured the services of a front-running driver. Amid the financial crisis, Toyota pulled the plug at the end of 2009. Its since returned to winning ways in the World Endurance Championship.
In 140 races, Toyota scored 278.5 points, three poles and fastest laps and 13 podiums.
Ensign – 134 races
British minnows Ensign first entered F1 in 1973, financed by racer Rikky von Opel, grandson of Opel founder Adam. The team only contested a part-season and didn’t score any points.
Usually only running a single car, Ensign’s results were patchy, the car frequently retiring and often not even qualifying. A constant stream of different drivers can’t have helped matters.
Even so, the team ran drivers of the calibre of Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni. It even gave one T. Needell his lone start in a Grand Prix. Ensign chassis did at least prove reasonably effective in national-level F1 racing.
For ’83 Ensign merged with customer team Theodore Racing, but closed after a single season. In 134 races, Ensign scored 19 points and one fastest lap.
Images courtesy of Wikipedia
By Graham King