Tuesday, 11 October 2016 09:00

Coloni Subaru (1990): when the philosophy costs dramatically

Written by

Translated by Giannis Binas

 

The glorious racing history of the Japanese Subaru is inherent with the World Rally Championship (WRC).

3 drivers’ championships (1995, 2001, 2003), 3 world constructors’ championships (1995, 1996, 1997) and 47 wins, established Subaru as one of the legendary teams in the history of the sport.

The blue Impreza left its own special mark on the special stages…

Subaru Impreza WRC

A few years before the great success in WRC, Subaru had a short but unsuccessful passing from the Formula 1 paddocks.

In contrast to its accomplishments in WRC, Subaru’s participation in the pinnacle of motorsport was marked by complete failure of the program.
But let’s see things from the beginning.
Affected by the success of its compatriot Honda, Subaru welcomed the idea to enter the world of Formula 1.

Its managers though, wanted to implement in Formula 1, the same philosophy to use exclusively flat (boxer) engines, both in racing as well as the company’s production cars.

A principle still followed to this day.

Subaru F12

In the middle of 1988 then, Subaru approached the Italian Carlo Chiti, owner of the small racing engine manufacturer, Motori Moderni, and assigned him to build a flat engine on its behalf.

In a short while, the 3.5 liter, 12-cylinder boxer, coded F12, received “flesh and bone”.

However, the use of flat engines in Formula 1 was already an obsolete approach, as the last time it had been followed was around 1970 and was not considered as an appropriate solution for the then aerodynamic standards.
Thus, it was reasonable for the major teams to be willing to try the new engine.

gachot subaru 5

The only team that accepted to test the F12 engine was Minardi, which used Motori Moderni’s engines during the 1985-1987 period.

The times recorded by Pierluigi Martini, Gianni Morbidelli and Paolo Barilla behind the whell of the modified Minardi M188-Subaru were disappointing and the venture did not move on.

Minardi M188 Subaru

Eventually, in the end of 1989, Subaru bought the majority stake of Coloni, a small Italian team and announced its participation for the next year as Coloni Subaru.

The team’s owner, Enzo Coloni, remained in charge of the team, under Subaru’s president, while Bertrand Gachot was chosen as the only chief of the new effort.

gachot subaru 4

From the first race of the Coloni-Subaru cooperation, the reason why no team with ambitions approached Subaru’s boxer engine venture positively, became apparent.

Specifically, F12 was more than 100 kilograms heavier than the engines of other manufacturers (Life’s engine being the sole exception) and 150 hp inferior.

On top of that, due to the engine’s heavy weight, C3B single-seater’s balance was poor.

Thus, it came as no surprise to anyone that Gachot was unable to qualify to the American GP.

He was eliminated since pre-qualifying, without recording any lap time as he faced a gearbox problem during his warm-up lap.

gachot subaru 1

In the next race, the Brazilian GP, he recorded a lap time but did not secure qualification in the qualifying sessions this time either.

In Imola, the car’s “weight loss” by 21 kg, produced some improvement that wasn’t enough though to fulfill the qualification goal.

Prior to the Monaco GP, Subaru bought the remaining stock and expelled Coloni from the team.

Nevertheless, things didn’t improve: another three failures to qualify in Monaco, Canada and Mexico.

gachot subaru 3

In the next race, the Brazilian GP, he recorded a lap time but did not secure qualification in the qualifying sessions this time either.

In Imola, the car’s “weight loss” by 21 kg, produced some improvement that wasn’t enough though to fulfill the qualification goal.

Prior to the Monaco GP, Subaru bought the remaining stock and expelled Coloni from the team.

Nevertheless, things didn’t improve: another three failures to qualify in Monaco, Canada and Mexico.

In French GP, the 8th DNQ was followed by the announcement that Subaru immediately left Formula 1.

Coloni took the leaf of the team;after two races, the Cosworth V8 substituted for Subaru F12.

The last Formula 1 chapter for the Japanese firm was held in Britain, with another failure to qualify.

In the following video (1.03 - 2.45) you can see the car and a Bertrand Gachot's interview:

 



''On this day 3 years ago, I was on pole for the Formula 3000 race, being faster than today''.

Gachot's claim can not prove better the failure of the project.

With the Cosworth engine, he finally managed to qualify 3 times (Italy, Portugal and Spain) in the qualifying session but not in the race, completing a totally unsuccessful year…

tanslated by Giannis Binas

gachot coloni ford 1990

 

 

 

f1grip avatar 240px 2013    autowebtv  rocketweb logo lizard 250    

Newsletter Sign Up

monaco-grand-prix-f1-race-c-1973_20120329_1882735004.jpg

KART POSTER