Life Racing Engines

Life Racing SpA was an Italian Formula 1 racing team, who competed in the 1990 Formula 1 season. It gained over the season also famous by the special measure of his failure.

Founder of the team was the Italian businessman Ernesto Vita, that was not previously have appeared in motorsport. In his team, founded in 1989, he united two projects with each other, who had not been successful in itself: on the one hand an unusual engine in W-12 configuration, on the other hand, a chassis that had been prepared by another team, but not yet used. Another peculiarity was that independently former Ferrari engineers had been working on two components. The combination of engine and chassis resulted in the sum of no successful overall package, so that Life Racing is one of the least successful teams in Formula 1 history.

The engine

Core of the team was an unusual Formula 1 engine, which had its intellectual origins in the late 1970s. The Italian engineer Franco Rocchi was employed at Ferrari until 1980, where he held a number of successful road engines developed. Of this was the 3.0-liter eight-cylinder engine ( sometimes called " Rocchi V8 " ), 4 ( with the Bertone body) made ​​his debut in 1973 in the Ferrari Dino 308 GT and later in the Ferrari 308 and the Ferrari Mondial took many years of use. 1980 left Franco Rocchi Ferrari and worked in subsequent years privately to some engine ideas. This included a W motor for the motor sport, that is, a vielzylindriges engine with three banks of cylinders. The theoretical advantage of the concept was the brevity of the engine block, which enabled a particularly compact car. The disadvantages included a disproportionate height and a special complexity of the overall concept. Franco Rocchi claimed in 1990 that he had already worked in the early 1970s on behalf of Ferrari in such a W engine, which had been there but not followed up in the end. Ferrari officially denied this claim.

Rocchis works were well advanced in the late 1980s. It was the time in which the Formula 1 was in upheaval: the first time should no longer supercharged engines for the 1989 season are allowed. From this rule change a significant reduction in the cost of running a Formula 1 team was widely expected. This led on the one hand, that in the late 1980s, a number of new Formula 1 team was founded. On the other hand, there were around 1989 around a degree of uncertainty, which engine concept would prove to be promising. Therefore, it was next to a variety of engine manufacturers also numerous very different conceptual approaches to the 3.5-liter Saugmotorformel: In addition to the classic eight-cylinder engines from Cosworth, Judd or Yamaha ten-cylinder engine (Renault) and twelve-cylinder (Ferrari, Honda, Lamborghini Engineering ) were used, all designed differently, for example, with significant differences in the cylinder angle. There were some unusual concepts. So Motori Moderni developed for a twelve-cylinder Subaru Boxer engine ( with 180 -degree cylinder angle ), which was used in 1990 in the short term at Coloni. Furthermore, in Neotech in Austria a V12 engine with output means has been developed which should run at EuroBrun Racing in 1990, but there lack of financial capacity could not be used. Finally, the W engine was realized. On one hand, worked in France Guy Nègre on such engine, which of course is not it past private tests in an old car from AGS, on the other hand, it was Franco Rocchi, who in 1988 used his ideas and a prototype of its engine introduced. Both engines were - apart from the orientation of the cylinder - much different and had nothing to do with each other.

The end of 1988 succeeded Rocchi, to find a buyer for his engine: The Italian businessman Ernesto Vita saw himself first as a financier of the project, could be made ready for use with the aid of the engine, and then as an agent, because it was initially his declared intention the engine to an existing formula 1 team to sell. These ambitions could not be realized during the year 1989. Although there were the end of 1988 or beginning of 1989 some conversations with Coloni, but there is no consensus was reached. When no other team showed serious interest in the following months, Ernesto Vita decided in the summer of 1989 to bring the motor with its own team in Formula 1. Immediate sporting ambition pursued Vita with his idea not; it went into the matter avowedly just a matter still to wake up to their own practical use interest from other teams.

Therefore, in the late summer of 1989 was the team Life Racing SpA founded. The name of the team was a play on words; Life was the English word for Vita, the surname of the founder team. The base of the team was in the place Formigine at Modena. The work consisted, according to Bruno Giacomelli essentially of two adjacent garages.

The car

In line with the ambitions, it came for Ernesto Vita not be considered to develop their own car. Instead, he decided to take over an existing, manufactured by another company vehicle and perform upgrades for its engine. The choice fell on a chassis of Formula 3000 racing team First Racing, who himself was about to get into Formula 1 in 1989, was short but jumped, although already have a vehicle had been completely developed and built.

The vehicle called First F189 was problematic. Been developed, it was contrary to conflicting press reports, not much of Riccardo Divila, but largely by Gianni Marelli, a former Ferrari engineer who own office in Milan entertained since 1984 and had worked from 1984 to 1987 intensively with Zakspeed. The car was based largely on components of the March 88B, a car for the Formula 3000, the First Racing had in 1988 used for Pierluigi Martini and Marco Apicella in F3000. He was actually too small for the Formula 1 In addition to that the F189 had failed the crash test of the FISA in February 1989 and had been rejected as unsafe. This fact was one of the main reasons that First Racing had withdrawn at short notice of his Formula 1 project.

Ernesto Vita took over the vehicle nonetheless. He engaged once more Gianni Marelli, on the one hand the necessary stiffness to the car undertook so that the crash - test was passed, and on the other hand, the work with respect to the installation of the motor Rocchi coordinated. Because of the wide engine towered over the driver's seat, creating a new, wide engine cover was required. The result was reminiscent of the Benetton B187 conception of the of 1987.

The car was completed in February 1990. It was painted dark red and called himself now Life L190, the engine was Rocchi F35.

The season 1990

The Team

The team volunteered for the Formula 1 World Championship under the name Life Racing Engines. For technical staff was next to some mechanics especially Gianni Marelli, who worked as a technical director for Life Racing. He should leave early again the team, however.

Ernesto Vita first tried to win Roberto Moreno Gianni Morbidelli or as a driver. Both were, however, in other teams the opportunity to race participation ( Moreno at EuroBrun, Morbidelli Dallara / Scuderia Italia ). Ultimately committed Vita Australian newcomer Gary Brabham, son of three- time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham and brother David Brabham. Brabham was the one who took the end of February 1990, in a function test with the Life - Rocchi vehicle on the Vallelunga circuit and a little later some test laps at Monza driving. About the lap times nothing is known; sure, however, that the Monza tests had to be stopped early due to electrical defects.

Gary Brabham took part in the first two races of the year for Life.

The individual race

At the opening race of the season in Phoenix Brabham drove four laps in the pre-qualification; in the fifth attempt, the electronics failed and the car remained lying. Brabham's best time was 2:02 minutes for one round. The later pole time by Gerhard Berger in the McLaren was at 1:28, for the pre-qualification for a time of 1:34 should have been achieved. That Brabham was with these values ​​not Last prequalification, lay alone on the fact that Bertrand Gachot had managed not a complete round of Subaru - Coloni and was overall evaluated with a lap time of about five minutes. In the following race at Interlagos Gary Brabham could not even go an entire round. Even when leaving the pit lane blew the engine. Later it turned out that the mechanics of the team not charge the battery of the car and not refilled in a sufficient degree oil and brake fluid had. Gary Brabham led back to conscious wrongdoing, the mechanic; Other sources report that the team did not have a meter with which it could check the state of charge of the battery. After this failure Gary Brabham announced his commitment to Life Racing.

As a substitute Ernesto Vita tried the following week, to oblige the German Bernd Schneider, who had previously gone in for Zakspeed and had received no place in Formula 1 after the retreat of the German team. However, Schneider said from. The second choice was the Italian Formula 2 and Formula 3000 driver Franco Scapini of 1987 for Coloni in Formula 1 should debut. Scapini took a week before the third race of the season at Imola actually a functional test for Life Racing in Misano. An obligation as a regular driver but failed because Scapini received no super license. Also under discussion was Antonio Tamburini, who had a few weeks previously completed some test laps in the Coloni.

In the end it succeeded Ernesto Vita to oblige the experienced Italian racing driver Bruno Giacomelli, who was in the late 1970s drove some use strong races for Alfa Romeo, however, had been the last Formula 1 race in 1983 with Toleman. Giacomelli's the only reference to the current Formula 1 was the fact that he had graduated in 1989 some test rides for March and Leyton House. Giacomelli's ambitions talking, according to some observers, within limits; it was mainly about him, once more to spend a year " on the piste ".

Also Giacomelli succeeded in no race to bring the Life successfully through the pre-qualification. At the Grand Prix of France, he managed due to technical defects and not a single timed lap in the pre-qualification for the Grand Prix of Mexico, he was only able to complete the formation lap. As Giaccomelli wanted to take a timed lap in attack, already collapsed when accelerating the engine. For the other events succeeded Giacomelli, at least to complete a timed lap in the pre-qualification. However, he was there on a regular basis and by far the slowest. The residues on the later pole time were regularly between 18 seconds and 32 seconds (at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza ); usually lacked 13 to 20, sometimes 26 seconds on the last of the pre-qualification.

At the Grand Prix of Great Britain succeeded Bruno Giacomelli, the residue at the pole time limit to 18 seconds. It should be the best score of the team. The second best performance resulted Bruno Giacomelli at the Monaco Grand Prix where he missed 19 seconds on the pole time. The residue on the Subaru- Coloni by Bertrand Gachot was only 2 seconds. However, these successes were relatively; measured in the performance of the competition was not working Life Racing at the level of formula 1 lap in Monte Carlo corresponded with 1:41 minutes the level that reached the best Formula 3 drivers regularly.

On the occasion of the Grand Prix of Monaco presented Ernesto Vita a new sponsor: the Soviet arms company PIC. According to a press release, an essential part of the business was that Life Racing know-how to pass in racecar to a resident of Leningrad Soviet company and in return should it get technology from the world space. In fact, the word PIC appeared repeatedly on the engine cover of Life. Like the other team members had to Bruno Giacomelli in the pit lane, the sewn symbol sickle and hammer wear on clothes. For Giacomelli this brought problems, as he had been ten years earlier moved into a large-scale Italian press campaign politically in the vicinity of communism, which he had repeatedly distanced.

During the subsequent Canadian Grand Prix there was another piece of news: Gianni Marelli had left the team. In its place was now the Swiss Peter Wyss, who had worked for several years in March, Rial and Coloni as technical director, active. However, this had no impact. The lap times of Giacomelli deteriorated significantly over the previous race.

In the summer of 1990, Ernesto Vita sold a majority stake of his racing team to Daniele Battaglino, a businessman from Verona, whose financial support made ​​it possible for the team to participate in the last European race of the year.

At this time, Vita was clear to the lack of success of the project. He tried repeatedly to get an alternative engine. Despite repeated announcements he succeeded not through the summer of 1990. Only at the Grand Prix of Portugal, the W12 engine from Rocchi by a conventional eight-cylinder Judd EV generation was replaced. Giacomelli had received the engine through personal contacts of March; where he had been a test driver in the previous season. The used and screened in March engine was first installed in the pit area of Estoril in the car. When assembling the items noted the mechanic that the engine cover did not fit over the engine. The team then had to skip the pre-qualification. The last mission of the team was the Grand Prix of Spain. There, the car drove, but was not significantly faster than in the previous version with the Rocchi engine despite the new engine. The flyaway let Life Racing from.

In the fall of 1990, Ernesto Vita announced yet, Life Racing is not closed. Man working on a new car for the 1991 season, which is provided with a conventional engine. There was talk of an eight-cylinder Judd or a twelve-cylinder Lamborghini Engineering. Nothing came of it. Finally, put the Vita Formula 1 operation but the end of season one.

No other customer was interested in the Rocchi engine. Bruno Giacomelli said he had never received by Ernesto Vita the agreed salary. Instead, they have offered him an engine block of Rocchi engine. He had rejected what he regretted open a few years later.

Bruno Giacomelli analysis

Bruno Giacomelli analyzed years later in an interview, the problems of the team. The main weak point is the engine have been: The engine was overweight - there was talk of a total weight in the range of more than 200 kilograms - and is much too weak. Giaccomelli: " Ayrton Senna in his McLaren - Honda 750 hp available, I had just 375 hp. This power output was below the level of Formula 3000 engines, which charges about 450 hp. In addition, the engine was unstable and tended at speeds above 9,000 rpm to collapse. The connecting rods were the biggest problem; they hit us as when accelerating formally around the ears. " This led to the result that Giacomelli mostly could not even get the maximum performance of the engine, as the preferred drove in the life of the engine interest at low speeds. Finally, the team was after his observation poorly funded and poorly organized. There is a lack of equipment and spare parts. Thus, there was neither a car nor replacement accessories " on the car was constantly around patched. He was repairing getting heavier and bulkier " Overall, the team had only three engine blocks of Rocchi powerplant features. ; usually was only one available at the races. At the same time Honda brought seven engine blocks for each driver of McLaren to the races. To organize the team Giacomelli said, "I had to drive my own car to the race track; for air travel we had no money. And I had to regularly pick up team members from the factory and take to the race track. (...) Once I did, coming out of Silverstone, driving in my car an F1 engine in the boot of Italy. "