This year’s FIA Formula One World Championship is all but decided with six races to go. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen is not only on the verge of winning his second consecutive World Drivers’ Championship but also on pace to shatter records. The 24-year-old Dutchman could break the single-season records for most race wins and highest win percentage. However, the one-sided affair between the front-running teams starkly contrasts with the rest of the F1 field.
Every single team has scored at least six points in the World Constructors’ Championship. Every current full-time driver, except Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, has scored at least four points in the World Drivers’ Championship. While Williams trails the other teams by over three times their own points total, the formerly formidable British team can still score points on occasion if the stars align. For example, the reigning Formula E champion Nyck de Vries scored points in his F1 debut at Monza with Williams. De Vries capitalized on an opportunity created by the FW44’s straight-line speed advantage paired with numerous power unit penalties served by other drivers.
Seemingly, the days of multiple teams struggling to score a single point are over. Things are arguably easier now for teams at the back. The top ten finishers in a Grand Prix score points, instead of the top six, which was the case throughout most of F1’s history. Also, there are only ten teams competing, meaning that every driver will start the race regardless of their position in qualifying. Let’s take a look back to the days when it was possible to fail to make a starting grid or finish a Grand Prix in 26th place. Here are the ten worst teams in Formula 1 history.
2 / 12
Before entering Formula 1, Forti was a very competent junior-category team. The Italian squad won their country’s national Formula 3 championship three times, as well as nine race victories in International Formula 3000, equivalent to today’s Formula 2. The team moved to F1 with Brazilian driver Pedro Diniz, backed financially by his familial wealth.
The FG01, Forti’s debut F1 car, was so slow in 1995 that both their entries failed to complete enough of the race distance to be classified as finishers in two races. The Forti FG01 had a significant power disadvantage and was the only car in 1995 to feature a manual transmission. Pedro Diniz was able to finish 7th in the season-ending Australian Grand Prix, just outside of the points.
While the team showed signs of improvement, Diniz and his financial backing left Forti for Ligier in 1996. Forti failed to qualify nine times due to being too slow during the 1996 season and filed for bankruptcy two-thirds of the way through the season.
3 / 12
The Ford Cosworth DFV made Formula 1 more accessible than at any other time in its history. With engines capable of winning races available for purchase basically right off the shelf, many new teams entered the world championship with huge aspirations without the resources to match.
RAM — no relation to the American truck brand — was one of those new teams in 1976. The very unsuccessful team competed sporadically in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with the backing of brands like Penthouse Magazine and Skoal smokeless tobacco. In 1983, RAM had 15 entries across the season and failed to qualify 12 times. RAM only entered F1 as a two-car team on a full-time basis for two seasons, 1984 and 1985, after it had started using Hart turbocharged inline-4 engines. The team disbanded after the 1985 season primarily due to losing Skoal as a sponsor.
4 / 12
Zakspeed earned its notoriety by competing with Fords in touring and sports car racing. The German team won the 1984 Interserie championship with the C1/8 derived from the Ford C100 Group C car. The following year, Zakspeed made its Formula 1 debut. However, the team’s five-year stint in the world championship amounted to almost nothing. Martin Brundle was able to score the team’s only points with a 5th-place finish at the 1987 San Marino Grand Prix. The Challenger Deep of Zakspeed’s tenure in Formula 1 was its final season in 1989. The German team had two entries in all 16 races and had an entry fail to pre-qualify 30 times. Zakspeed continued on after departing F1 and even won Nürburgring 24 Hours twice in 2001 and 2002.
5 / 12
Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives was founded by a gas station owner in Gonfaron, France and made its debut at the 1986 Italian Grand Prix. The Formula 1 team was based out of the garages at the same station and initially only had seven team employees. Sadly, the team was as competitive as you would think a gas station-based F1 team would be. Over six seasons, AGS entered 80 races and had an entry fail to qualify 76 times. However, the team did score a single point on two occasions, with 6th place finishes at the 1987 Australian Grand Prix and 1989 Mexican Grand Prix. AGS folded near the end of the 1991 F1 season.
6 / 12
Osella has to get some credit for its longevity. After a successful Formula 2 season in 1979 with American Eddie Cheever, the Italian team decided to make the leap up to Formula 1. Osella lasted 11 seasons in F1. Though, Osella had only two points-scoring finishes during their time in the world championship. The team entered 132 Formula 1 races and its entries failed to qualify 83 times. Its penultimate season in 1989 would be Oscella’s worst with its entries failing to pre-qualify 21 times. After leaving F1, Osella became a hill-climbing powerhouse. Since 1993, Osella machinery has won 20 FIA European Hill Climb Championships.
7 / 12
Coloni prematurely rocketed itself up the ladder to F1 after winning the 1984 Italian F3 championship. It entered International F3000 in 1986 and Formula 1 in 1987. Coloni failed to qualify for every single race it entered in 1990 and 1991. While the Coloni name would disappear from F1 after 1991, the team would continue to be backmarkers the following season. The Italian team continued to compete in the penultimate step of the junior ladder to F1 until 2012.
8 / 12
EuroBrun made its Formula 1 debut in 1988 and disbanded after the 1990 season. The Swiss-Italian team struggled both financially and competitive for its entire existence. The team’s best-ever result was when Stefano Modena finished 11th at the 1988 Hungarian Grand Prix. EuroBrun would go on to fail to pre-qualify for every single F1 race in 1989. On Formula 1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Roberto Moreno admitted that EuroBrun did not want to qualify in 1990 because it would be too costly to actually race. EuroBrun had 76 entries over its F1 stints and failed to qualify 53 times.
9 / 12
Life was a short-lived Italian team that only competed during the 1990 Formula 1 season. The new team’s efforts were based around a unique 3.5-liter W12 engine, which ended up having at least a 100-horsepower disadvantage compared to the rest of the field. The engine’s configuration of three four-cylinder banks didn’t help either as the team failed to pre-qualify for every race it entered. Life switched to a Judd V8 engine for its final two races, but the team did not live.
10 / 12
The title of the shortest-lived Formula 1 team has to go to Mastercard Lola. The British constructor only lasted a single race in the 1997 season despite having the backing of Mastercard. Lola’s agreement with Mastercard centered around the launch of the credit card company’s “F1 Club” program. Revenue to Lola would be pulled from cardholders joining the “F1 Club” so it was like a department store employee peddling store cards for the commission.
Both the team’s entries failed to qualify for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, then Mastercard Lola withdrew from F1 as the team was in Brazil to compete in the next round. Mastercard Lola racked up $9.7 million in debt before it folded.
11 / 12
In late 1991, Italian shoe designer Andrea Sassetti bought Coloni to start his own Formula 1 team called Andrea Moda, after his fashion brand. After failing to pay the $100,000 deposit for new entries, Andrea Moda was excluded from the 1992 season-opening South African Grand Prix. The team claimed to be a continuation of Coloni, but Sassetti didn’t purchase Coloni’s F1 entry. In the next round in Mexico, the team didn’t participate because its cars weren’t ready, despite its equipment being in Mexico City. Andrea Moda fired both its driver for criticizing the poor management of the team.
Andrea Moda would go on to fail to qualify for every race it entered, except for Roberto Moreno making the field for the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix. That season’s Belgian Grand Prix would be the final race the team would attempt to qualify for as Sassetti was arrested in the paddock for forging invoices for parts. Afterward, the FIA World Motor Sport Council, the highest body in international motorsport, expelled Andrea Moda from Formula 1 for bringing the sport into disrepute.
12 / 12