Andrea Moda Formula: The Worst Team In F1 History
The 1992 F1 season definitely had many memorable moments, like Nigel Mansell becoming World Champion, beating runner-up and fellow Williams driver Ricardo Patrese by 50 points, and Michael Schumacher's first career win at that year's Belgian GP. But perhaps more memorable to petrolheads is, for all the wrong reasons, the team of Andrea Moda Formula, famous for not only managing to qualify once in the entire season, but for also being the only team (so far) in F1 history to get banned. To start, Andrea Moda was born from the ashes of Scuderia Coloni, a team famous for uh... being a bit better than Andrea Moda. And that says a lot cause Coloni's best result in its 4 year run in F1 was Gabrielle Tarquini's 8th place at the 1988 Canadian GP. Yes, things were that bad but they're about to get even worse.
Coloni spent most of its days failing to qualify and in 1990 delivered its worst show yet, when a deal was signed with Subaru, which stated that Subaru would take 51% ownership of the team, clear all of its debts and give Coloni a brand new engine. It sounded like a solid deal right? Well, the flat-12 Subaru gave to Coloni turned out to be the worst heap of junk that ever revved in F1 history, being ridiculously underpowered and more unreliable than a cheating girlfriend. As such, the team was on its last legs and in 1991 Enzo Coloni sold his dreams and aspirations to one Andrea Sasseti, an Italian businessman and owner of Andrea Moda, a company that makes women's shoes. Oh, by the way, Sasseti had alleged ties with the Mafia which made things even more... interesting.
When Sasseti bought the team a joke that run for the entire season began. To start, Andrea Moda didn't even have a car ready for the 1992 season and as such had to use Coloni's ancient C4B chassis, fitted this time with a Judd V10 instead of the diabolical Subaru flat 12. Meanwhile, Simtek was tasked with developing a new chassis for Andrea Moda to be used when F1 would come to Europe. Somehow, a team consisting of a handful of ex-Coloni employees and two prehistoric cars, managed to get enough sponsors and also secure its first two drivers. The first was Alex Caffi, an Italian hopeful that had great success in the Italian Formula 3 championship, and the second was Enrico Bertaggia, a driver that only managed to race cause of his wallet, since he didn't even manage to pre-qualify once in 1991. The South African GP was around the corner and expectations for this new team were at least respectable, but..
When the team arrived at the newly renovated Kyalami racetrack and after Alex Caffi gave the car its first shakedown before stopping with a defective battery, the FIA declared that Andrea Moda couldn't race cause they hadn't paid the $100000 deposit for new teams. Andrea Sasseti was furious but eventually paid the deposit. But now there was a different problem, cause now that Andrea Moda was a "new" team it couldn't use Coloni's cars anymore. So Andrea Moda and Simtek rushed development of the chassis and after a gigantic effort the world finally saw Andrea Moda's pride and joy, the Andrea Moda S921. So maybe this time at the Mexico GP things could be different? Not really.
The team traveled to Mexico and refused to race, citing "extenuating circumstances". That made the FIA even more furious with Andrea Moda and the season had just began. And that, understandably, made the drivers very angry with the whole situation. So Andrea Sasseti did something very mature, and blamed the drivers for the situation, firing them almost instantly. So now the team had an okay-ish car but no drivers. So it was back to square one for the team of wrecked dreams.
Amazingly, Sasseti managed to find two new drivers. One of them was Roberto Moreno, a solid driver that even drove for Benetton in '91, and the other was Perry McCarthy, who's known to you and me as The Stig. At Interlagos, McCarthy was unable to race due to problems with his Superlicense which meant that Moreno went at it alone, managing 23 seconds on the track before the car decided it had enough. Still it was at least a start and it showed that the team was actually real but from here on out things took a turn from "weird" to "holy s***t".
Enrico Bertaggia wanted to return to the team, bringing with him 1 million dollars. Sasseti just needed to drop McCarthy, bring Bertaggia in again and acquaint himself with the one million. But FIA rules stated that only two driver changes were allowed and as such nothing could be done. So Sasseti in his wannabe Bond villain mind, hatched a plan to make McCarthy quit so he could bring Bertaggia as a replacement. He purposefully gave McCarthy a hard time, like in the Spanish GP in which both Moreno's and McCarthy's cars stopped working so the mechanics did the natural thing, and swapped Moreno's destroyed engine with McCarthy's functioning one, leaving the Brit without a car. Naturally, Andrea Moda managed to not pre-qualify in Spain too, but then at Monaco a miracle happened.
In one of life's little ironies, Moreno managed to go through qualifying and into the actual race. Granted, he started from the last place at the grid, but still it was a moment no one saw coming. At Monaco the dream finally became a reality.. for 11 laps, after which the engine of Moreno's S921 gave up. Still, it was a moment for the history books and also it was Andrea Moda's best result ever.
With the team's hopes riding high it was on to the Canadian GP, but in classic Andrea Moda fashion stuff went from bad to worse in a heartbeat. In what can only be considered either a great act of bad luck or stupidity, Andrea Moda brought the cars to Canada but not the engines! Yes, you read that correctly. The Judd V10s were stuck at the airport so the cars raced with borrowed Brabham engines instead managing, you guessed it, to not pre-qualify yet again.
Meanwhile, the war on Perry McCarthy was still going and at last the FIA had to do something. So McCarthy had to be treated fairly or else the whole team would get penalized. At the Belgian GP though stuff got serious, when McCarthy's car was found to have a broken steering arm, which not only the team knew about, but it was allegedly fitted to McCarthy's car on Sasseti's orders so McCarthy would crash and die! It was a last ditch attempt for Sasseti to get rid of McCarthy but the FIA had seen enough and so not soon after that Sasseti got arrested at Spa for forging invoices and the team got banned. The circus did attempt to go in the paddock at the next round at Monza but their attempts failed, marking the end of this sorry excuse for a team.
So it's safe to say that Andrea Sasseti really is the worst F1 team boss the sport has ever seen, and it also goes to show that in order to race in F1 and be succesful, you don't just need cash. You need brains too.
What do you think? Is Andrea Moda the worst team ever?
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