Coloni (Enzo Coloni Racing Car Systems) is an Italian racing team and former Formula One racing car constructor. While it has been successful in Formula Three and Formula 3000, the team was one of the least successful in Formula One history. The tiny team never had appropriate human, financial or technical resources, sometimes consisting of as few as five members.
Coloni was the 'works' team for Subaru during 1990. From 1987 to 1991, the Coloni team made 82 attempts to take part in a Formula One race but only qualified 14 times. On the five occasions when a Coloni car finished a race, no points were scored.
Origins of the team
The team was founded in 1983 by Enzo Coloni, a racing driver from Perugia, Italy. Coloni competed during the 1970s and after participating in the Italian Formula 3 series for several years, he won the drivers' title in 1982 when he was 36 years old. Before that, Coloni, who was also called "the wolf", had also taken part in two Formula Two races, one in 1980 with the San Remo team and another one in 1982 with the Minardi team. At the end of 1982, he gave up active racing and started managing his own team, initially in Italian Formula Three.
Formula Three & Formula 3000 (1983 - 1986)
Success came almost immediately: the team won the 1984 Italian Formula 3 championship with Ivan Capelli. In 1986, Coloni Motorsport appeared in Formula 3000, entering an out-dated March 85B with drivers like Nicola Larini and Gabriele Tarquini. The Formula 3000 attempt was unsuccessful. Nonetheless the team progressed to Formula One the next year.
Formula One (1987 - 1991)
[Coloni-Ford (1987 – 1989)
The FIA's announcement that turbos would be banned from Formula One from 1989 - making the sport more affordable - was the trigger for Enzo Coloni to enter the category. Enzo Coloni Racing Car Systems made its first appearance in Formula One at the 1987 Italian Grand Prix in September 1987. The yellow painted FC 187, powered by a Novamotor-prepared Cosworth DFZ, was a simple machine designed by former Dallara apprentice Roberto Ori. Coloni himself had carried out the shake-down drive but Nicola Larini was the race driver. The car was obviously not ready and Larini did not qualify. The Italian recorded Coloni’s first Formula One race start at the next race, the 1987 Portuguese Grand Prix, although mechanical problems meant that he did not finish. The team did not fly to the end of year overseas races that year, so Larini’s retirement from the Spanish Grand Prix that year ended their first season.
The 1988 season was the team's first full season and started well. Although the "new" FC 188 was almost identical with its predecessor, Coloni's new driver Gabriele Tarquini qualified regularly and finished 8th iat the Canadian Grand Prix. This turned out to be Coloni's best result in Formula One. Due to a shortage of funds very little development work was done during the year. The team’s performance suffered as a result and qualification or even prequalification were no longer certain. The team scored no points this year.
The 1989 Monaco Grand Prix was the only race in which two Colonis qualified. Raphanel leads Moreno through the tunnel.Although money was tight for 1989, Coloni entered two cars for Roberto Moreno and French newcomer Pierre-Henri Raphanel. The FC 188Bs were another update of the 1987 car and were hard to handle and about 20 km/h slower than the rest of the grid. Nonetheless, both drivers were able to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix. This was the only race participation of a Coloni in the first part of the season. In Canada, Coloni presented a new car (the Coloni C3) which was penned by former AGS man Christian Vanderpleyn. The C3 was a basically good design but the team suffered again from a complete lack of testing. This meant that the team often failed to find the right set up for the races. The team failed to qualify for most of the rest of the season - only at the Portuguese Grand Prix did Moreno qualify, in 15th place, after a developmental front wing was fitted. Unfortunately for the team, he then collided with Eddie Cheever in the warm-up  and had to use the spare car. He did not finish the race as the engine blew up after a handful of laps. As results failed to arrive, the team was cut back throughout the year. After Vanderpleyn had left the team in September, Enzo Coloni took over the engineer's job himself but unsurprisingly this brought no improvement. Neither did the new driver Enrico Bertaggia who replaced Raphanel for the last races.
A unexpected contract with Subaru, the automobile branch of Fuji Heavy Industries, brought substantial monetary backing and additionally an exclusive "works" engine for free. The Japanese took over 51% of Coloni formula, payed the debts and supported the new alliance with a brand new, unique engine. It was a flat-12 engine which in fact was penned by Carlo Chiti. Chiti's Motori Moderni company at Novara had supplied V6 Turbo engines for the Minardi Formula One team from 1985 to 1987, and in 1988 Chiti had penned a normally aspirated V12 engine that attracted Subaru. In late 1988, the Japanese commissioned Chiti to design a new Formula One engine with a "flat" layout - as used in their road cars - that was ready in the Summer of 1989. The engine - now with a Subaru badge - was tested in a Minardi M188 chassis but due to a severe lack of power Minardi very soon lost interest. After a few months of searching, Subaru found the Coloni team. Eventually, the "Subaru Coloni" Team was founded with Enzo Coloni staying on board as the man for operational business.
By the beginning of 1990, the "Subaru" flat engine was not producing more than 500 bhp, so the Coloni Subaru was by far the least competitive machine regularly competing in Formula One in 1990. Subaru and Chiti agreed to build a new V12 engine for Summer 1990 together with a completely new chassis, but in the meantime the flat engine should be used by the "Coloni Subaru" Team in a carry-over chassis. Early in 1990, a handful of Enzo Coloni's mechanics worked on a single C3 and tried to put the Subaru engine in it. The work was not done until the day the FIA started shipping the Formula One material to Phoenix. In the pits at Phoenix, the car was assembled for the very first time, and a short private "practice" took place on a parking area of an American supermarket. On prequalification day of Phoenix the world saw Coloni's "new" model C3B which wore a white, red and green livery. Without an airbox but with wide, long sidepods, it looked like a tank, was overweight by 300 pounds and nearly impossible to handle. Neither at Phoenix nor at any other event, did Bertrand Gachot, Coloni's new driver, manage to prequalify the car. As the season went on, improvements were few and results stayed nowhere. Meanwhile, no success could be seen at Coloni's plant in Perugia where obviously nobody worked seriously on a new car. In May, Enzo Coloni was sacked by Subaru, but no improvement came. In June, the Japanese company withdrew completely and sold the team back to Enzo Coloni, debt free, but with no sponsors and no engines. By the German Grand Prix Coloni had arranged a supply of Cosworth engines, prepared by Langford & Peck. An improved car also appeared in Germany. The "new" Coloni C3C was simply a 1989 C3 with minor changes in aerodynamics. The car was quicker, but not enough to achieve any serious results. Gachot was usually able to prequalify his car, but the "main" qualification was still out of reach. By the end of the season, Coloni had not taken part in a single Grand Prix.
For the 1991 season the team consisted of only six people. The car was another version of the C3 from 1989 which had seen some detail work from students of the University of Perugia and which was now called a C4. Enzo Coloni had hoped for Andrea de Cesaris as his first driver, with his sponsorship from Marlboro. The Roman eventually took his knowledge and his money to Jordan Grand Prix. Coloni handed his single car to newcomer Pedro Matos Chaves from Portugal who had just won the British Formula 3000 series in 1990. The car was out of date, fragile and hard to handle, and Chaves did not know most of the tracks. As a result, Chaves never made the prequalification. At Chaves' home Grand Prix, Coloni had only one engine that blew up before the prequalifying session had even started so Chaves did not participate at all. Finally he quit the team. For the following race, Coloni was unable to find a new driver, but for the last two races of the season, he employed Naoki Hattori: a Japanese driver with a very decent record in other formulae but with no experience in Formula One. The results did not improve.
By that time, Coloni had sold his team to Andrea Sassetti, who renamed it Andrea Moda Formula for 1992.
Formula Three, Formula 3000 & GP2 (1992 - present)
Enzo Coloni continued participating in motorsport. After handing over his team to his son Paolo, he was the operative director of many motorsport activities of "Coloni Motorsport". The team made another start in Formula 3 before stepping ahead to Formula 3000. In 2002, the team's first victory was scored by Giorgio Pantano, and from 2003 on, Coloni Motorsport was one of the most professional teams in Formula 3000, temporarily running also a "junior" team after taking over Minardi's Formula 3000 team. Coloni Motorsport also took part in the new GP2 Series which saw the light of day in 2005. For 2006, Coloni merged his GP2 activities with Fisichella Motorsport, a young Italian team run by Formula 1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella that previously competed in the F3000 Euro Series and now took the opportunity to upgrade.