With the FIA having fined and banned USF1 from 'any competition' in motorsport [see separate story – click here
], the final curtain has now come down on what was incontrovertibly the most farcical attempt to enter F1 since the turn of the Millennium – but was Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson's calamitous brainchild the biggest failure in the top flight's long history?
Since the official inception of the world championship all the way back in 1950, more than 130 teams have competed at the highest level, the vast majority of them coming and going again in greater or lesser timeframes. The only mainstay during the past 60 years has been Ferrari, with grand prix stalwarts Williams and McLaren also boasting long and triumphant F1 pedigrees.
In addition, of course, there have been the rather less successful entrants, amongst whom USF1 must find itself classified – even if, of course, the North Carolina-based project never ultimately made it as far as the starting grid, or managed to put a car together for that matter. And then there are these likely suspects...
AFM (Alex von Falkenhausen Motorenbau) entered nine races in the early 1950s, only two of which it finished and two of which it failed even to start, whilst American constructor Scarab's 1960 F1 bid was arguably ill-fated right from the outset, given that front-engined cars like its four-cylinder L4 were by then practically obsolete – and a single race start from nine attempts was the result.
The wonderfully-named Jolly Club of Switzerland's Apollon Fly of 1977 proved to be hopelessly shy of the leading pace on its lone outing during practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza that year – predictably, it never made it as far as qualifying – following several false-starts earlier on in the season. In the three previous campaigns, meanwhile, Maki Engineering from Japan had entered eight grands prix – but started none of them.
The hapless French AGS effort spent much of the late 1980s and early 1990s failing even to pre-qualify, in company with Italo-Swiss counterpart EuroBrun and the truly dreadful Life outfit, which didn't make it through to a single qualifying session during its sole campaign of competition in 1990. And don't even get Perry McCarthy started on Andrea Moda...
Life, indeed, was practically world championship-winning material when compared to FIRST Racing that had gone the season before, with the International F3000 graduate lodging its entry to move up to F1 but – much like USF1 – never actually racing after its Judd V8-powered chassis was deemed too poorly-conceived and unsafe to drive, with designer Richard Divila caustically describing it as good enough only to act as 'an interesting flowerpot'. After failing a mandatory FIA crash test, the initiative was canned and the team went under – but, incredibly, the unloved stillborn chassis lived to fight another, regurgitated day. As the Life L190...
Fondmetal was another prolific pre-qualifying victim in 1991 and 1992, though happily, Gabriele Tarquini this time made the grade on all-but one occasion – unlike in his luckless AGS days – even if the Italian only saw three chequered flags from 15 starts.
Onyx/Monteverdi is just about saved from this list of ignominy by Stefan Johansson's fifth place at Paul Ricard in 1989 and magnificent podium finish at Estoril six races later – marginally outweighing the eight further grands prix for which the Super-Swede proved unable to pre-qualify – whilst German-founded Rial Racing's brace of fourth spots amidst 27 failures to make the grid in 1988 and 1989 similarly narrowly preserve its fate.