First Racing

First Racing was the name of an Italian racing team, the Formula 3000 was active in the 1980s and 1990s and in 1989 unsuccessfully tried to put into the formula 1 foot.

From First Racing, the British team is FIRST (written in the message lists regularly in capitals ) to distinguish. In the latter case, it was a private project of the British racing driver Peter Westbury, the Brabham BT30 and BT36 with a sympathetic 1969-1972 to race to the European Formula 2 and also for the Grand Prix of Germany in 1969 took. There are no links between the British team and First Racing from Italy.

  • 3.1 Background
  • 3.2 First retreat
  • 3.3 The car
  • 3.4 Second retreat
  • 3.5 The Second Life of First - chassis

The origins

First Racing was founded and operated by the Italian racing driver Lamberto Leoni, who had driven in the late 1970s in lower racing series with some success race.

Between 1977 and 1984, Lamberto Leoni took part in irregular Formula 2 race, reached there but no victories. Chance he stepped next to Formula 1. His first Formula 1 event was the Grand Prix of Italy at Monza in 1977, for which he was reported by Team Surtees. But he did not participate in the race, after he had missed the qualification with a gap of 0.5 seconds. For the first four races of the Formula 1 season 1978 Leoni was reported by the British team Ensign. In the first two races he could, even though he had to use a previous year's car, each categorized, but never reached the goal. In Argentina, he started as a 22, but fell after nine laps with engine failure; in Brazil he achieved a 17th place start, but already fell from the warm-up with gear damage and could, as the defective part could not be repaired, the race does not start. It was followed by two non- qualifications at Kyalami and Long Beach. As a result, Leoni was replaced by Jacky Ickx, who in turn had a few races later passed his driving position in Nelson Piquet.

After 1985, the formula was 2 replaced by Formula 3000, Lamberto Leoni drove some races for the British PMC team as well as for the Italian Corbari team. In 1986 Leoni 's no chance to drive for a team. He finally decided in 1986 to use its own team and to be the first driver. The team was named First Racing.

First Racing was active between 1986 and 1991 in Formula 3000. 1999, there was a new Formula 3000 project Lamberto Leoni under the name Monaco Motorsport, which was however short-lived. As of 1993, Lamberto Leoni work was on powerboat race. Here his enterprise was successful; his boats drove numerous victories and nearly won the world championship of 1993.

First Racing in Formula 3000


The first season played Lamberto Leoni with a single car, which he drove himself. The vehicle was a March 88B. At the opening race of the Formula 3000 at Silverstone Leoni came eleventh. It should be the only countable result this year. Later Leoni failed repeatedly in the qualification; partly he was involved in the race also to accidents. In the fourth last race of the season on the ring Leoni Austria suffered a serious accident during warm -up, through which the car was severely damaged. It does not, the team managed to build the car back, so that First Racing on the last three races of the year are no longer able to attend.


For 1987, First Racing announced three vehicles of the March 87B. Drivers were Lamberto Leoni, Aldo Bertuzzi (which should be replaced at the end of the season out by the later EuroBrun - pilot Claudio Langes) and Gabriele Tarquini. Tarquini was the star of the team, but rendered irregular services. Many races he finished the last one, on the other hand, get him to a third place in the Premio Mediterraneo Pran in Enna / Sicily and a second place at Imola, two podiums. A total of Gabriele Tarquini and Lamberto Leoni equal Eighth Formula 3000 Championship, each 12 championship points scored. Tarquini changed in the coming season in Formula 1, in which he took for the young Coloni team.


At the end of 1987 Lamberto Leoni ended his driving career and focused on the management of his team. For the 1988 season he signed Pierluigi Martini, at the Minardi Formula 1 experience had already gathered in 1984 with Toleman in 1985, 1986 and 1987, but at first no cockpit in Formula 1 had been able to obtain. As Martini in the spring of 1988, received the offer to replace the unsuccessful Adrián Campos at Minardi, the Italians first Formula 1 and Formula 3000 race played side by side. Only once (on the occasion of the Grand Prix of Portugal), there was a date conflict, when he opted for the Formula 1 race and was temporarily replaced by Alain Ferté at First Racing. Second driver at First Racing was Marco Apicella. Pierluigi Martini was the successful rider of the team. He drove at the Gran Premio Mediterraneo in Enna, a first victory for First Racing and reached some more podiums. Martini was a total fourth in the Formula 3000 championship in 1988.


1989 First Racing entered again in F3000. In parallel, there were ambitions to move up to Formula 1, but ultimately failed.

Lamberto Leoni presented the new season, a team with three riders on: top driver was Marco Apicella, Fabrizio Giovanardi and were next to the Geneva Jean -Denis Delétraz called. The team's goal was avowedly winning the championship. For this purpose they had in addition to good drivers get above all the work of support by March Engineering, as it was the semi-works team by the First Racing. Apicella and Giovanardi used in each case the current vehicles of March, Delétraz however, began a chassis from Reynard.

In fact, Apicella and Giovanardi achieved some good results. Giovanardi it, the second Formula 3000 race in which he competed to win immediately succeeded. Apicella took a series of podium finishes and was fourth in the championship ultimately. Thus, the stated goal of the team was missed. Nevertheless, the year 1989 should be the most successful season for First Racing.


For 1990 First Racing for the first time used for all drivers chassis from Reynard. The driver line-up remained unchanged for: Apicella, Giovanardi and Delétraz were regular driver. Delétraz, however, was replaced by Marco Greco during the season. Lamberto Leoni stated repeatedly in public that Apicella should now win the championship for First Racing. In fact, the Italians did not meet the expectations placed in him. He had to face strong competition from the driver of the DAMS team exposed, which largely controlled the race.


Used for the 1991 season First Racing cars turn of Reynard. Jean- Dénis Delétraz returned to the team. He took over shares in the team; some newspaper reports spoke of that he became the majority owner of First Racing. Next to him, Giovanni Bonanno and Éric Hélary were named as a driver. During the season, the driver could not meet the expectations placed upon them and there was a lot of unrest in the team. Giovanni Bonanno was replaced after several unsuccessful race by Michael Bartels, who should also take some unsuccessful attempts in Formula 1 Team Lotus this season.

In the summer Delétraz left the team again, replacement for him has not been set. With his retirement, the financial situation of the team deteriorated significantly, which was reflected immediately in sporting performance. In Enna both Michael Bartels and Eric Hélary missed the qualification; it was the first Formula 3000 race in four years, in which no car from First Racing was at the start. The team was seen in disarray and Lamberto Leoni presented the racing one at the end of 1991. The former employee of First Racing changed the majority of the Italian Crypton team, which had established itself in the early 1990s in Formula 3000. The Swiss magazine motorsport currently reported in issue 32/1995, that several former employees of First Racing in 1995 outstanding wage claims against Delétraz argued and on the occasion of a Formula 1 use the Swiss blocked his private car in the Team Pacific to their demands to give.

1999: Monaco Motorsport

After seven years of interruption Lamberto Leoni returned shortly back to the International Formula 3000. He registered a team called Monaco Motorsport for Marco Apicella, in 1993 a single race in Formula 1 for Jordan was able to drive, as well as for Thomas Biagi, Alex Yoong, Marcellino Battistuzzi and Cyrille Sauvage. The team was unsuccessful and then lost his place in the 2000 International Formula 3000, after which it took in the 2000 season in the Italian Formula 3000 Championship.

Monaco Motorsport had regardless of the name similarity has nothing to do with the Ecurie Monaco, a company founded by Fulvio Ballabio team of Fontvieille (Monaco), the two formula took 3000 race in the 1986 season and on one occasion a modified racing cars of the brand DYWA began.

First Racing in Formula 1


During the year 1988, Lamberto Leoni decided at an entry in Formula 1 background to this was the 1989 effective prohibition of turbo engines, which generally expected a Formula 1 racing team should be inexpensive to operate again. Other competitors in the Formula 3000 as Coloni or AGS had gone the same route or were preparing him (eg Jordan ). First Leoni tried to take over an existing Formula 1 team. In this context, there were discussions with Rial. As these, however, did not lead to the desired results, Leoni prepared the independent entry into Formula 1.

For the design of your own car, which was essential in Formula 1, Leoni commissioned first Brazilian designer Riccardo Divila who had designed a decade earlier, the Formula 1 cars of the Fittipaldi team. Divila worked in the late summer of 1988 from the first plans for the car but broke up a few months later of First Racing, after getting a job as technical director at the Equipe Ligier. With the further work on Leonis Formula 1 car Gianni Marelli was commissioned an engineer who had worked in the 1960s and 1970s for the Scuderia Ferrari, since the 1980s, but ran his own engineering office in Milan, which in 1984-1987 had contributed to the formula 1 project of Zakspeed. Marelli completed significant portions of the detail work. He strongly oriented to the March 88B, that vehicle that First Racing had started this season in Formula 3000. In fact, the outer dimensions of the first- vehicle corresponded more like those of Formula 3000 as Formula 1

First withdrawal

Shortly thereafter, Leoni had to interrupt the work. The occasion was an explanation of the FISA to discharge mode of pre-qualification for the 1989 season, which was essential in view of the fact that a total of 21 teams had registered for the Formula 1 World Championship. The FISA had let announce that the pre-qualification should be held one week before the next race, on anything other than the upcoming track. This concept would have for the teams that were subject to pre-qualification, means a substantial increase in travel costs and expenses. Given these considerations, Leoni announced the end of its Formula 1 involvement. Only when the FISA of their plan took distance, sat First Racing 's Formula 1 program continues.

The car

The prototype of the Formula 1 cars from First Racing, called F189, was completed in late 1988. It was a very compact car with low side boxes and very deep cockpit cutout. Several British newspaper reports emphasized the similarity of the car with the March 88B and quoted members of the team who testified, the F189 use a chassis just this Formula 3000 car. In fact corresponded to the outer dimensions of the F189 rather those of a Formula 3000 cars as those of the formula 1 drive side, an eight-cylinder naturally-aspirated Judd generation CV ( with 90 -degree cylinder angle) was provided.

The car was unveiled at the Bologna Motor Show at the end of 1988. We saw a black, white, and yellow painted racing car, which had some sponsors (including SARE and "Reporter", a men's fragrance, was recently promoted to the Minardi cars). Gabriele Tarquini was moving the car at the motor show.

On this occasion, Riccardo Divila first saw the complete car. He was scared and stopped the car unsafe. He called him a mortal danger for the driver and explained that they could not win with him ( "That car was good for nothing but an interesting flowerpot "). He said Lamberto Leoni, his - Divilas - to name names associated with this car, and advised Tarquini from having to move the F189 in a Grand Prix.

In February 1989, a few weeks before the first race of the season, the chassis has undergone the mandatory crash test. The car failed the test and the FISA failed the vehicle approval.

Second retreat

Then Lamberto Leoni made ​​his Formula 1 involvement. Several reasons are mentioned:

  • On one hand, the ( re withdrawal) from Formula 1 is due to a conflict of interests with March. March yielded one hand Formula 3000 cars at First Racing and had given the Italian team here a quasi- network status and thus a preferred role. On the other hand, operational March 1987 in cooperation with Leyton House its own Formula 1 team. From a Formula 1 entry of the Customers First Racing March expected an increase in competition in Formula 1 and a threat to their own Formula 1 project. In view of this March presented a termination of the Formula 3000 Treaty in prospect.
  • In this context it is also noted that March Engineering did not agree with the non- collusive use of its own chassis for a Formula 1 car from First Racing.
  • Finally, the adjustment of the chassis to the crash provisions of FISA was associated temporally with a risky and financial expenditure, the Lamberto Leoni could not wear or wanted.

The withdrawal of First Racing in Formula 1 was final. Gabriele Tarquini but I managed to get for 1989 a place in the AGS team, where he replaced the recently crashed Philippe Streiff.

The second life of first- chassis

In the course of 1989 Lamberto Leoni sold the ready- chassis to the Italian businessman Ernesto Vita, which (after some modifications ) reported it in the 1990 Formula 1 season in his team Life Racing. First, it was equipped with a W12 engine by Franco Rocchi, later it received a Judd eight-cylinder EV generation. The adaptation work again took the office of Gianni Marelli. Drivers were initially Gary Brabham and Bruno Giacomelli later. In either form, this commitment was unsuccessful.