Osella

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For other uses, see Osella (disambiguation).
Osella
Osella emblem.png
Full name Osella Squadra Corse
Base Verolengo, Italy[1]
Founder(s) Enzo Osella
Noted staff Antonio Tommaini
Noted drivers United States Eddie Cheever
Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani
France Jean-Pierre Jarier
Austria Jo Gartner
Netherlands Huub Rothengatter
Italy Nicola Larini
Next name Fondmetal
Formula One World Championship career
Debut 1980 Argentine Grand Prix
Races competed 132
Engines Ford-Cosworth, Alfa Romeo, Osella
Constructors'
Championships
0 (best finish: 12th in 1984)
Drivers'
Championships
0 (best finish: Piercarlo Ghinzani 19th in 1984)
Race victories 0 (best finish: 4th at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix)
Pole positions 0 (best grid position: 8th at the 1990 United States Grand Prix)
Fastest laps 0
Final race 1990 Australian Grand Prix

Osella is an Italian racing car manufacturer and former Formula One team based (when he raced in F1) in Volpiano near Turin, Italy. They participated in 132 Grands Prix between 1980 and 1990. They achieved two points finishes and scored 5 championship points.

Early days[edit]

Osella placed second in the 1977 World Championship for Sports Cars with the Osella PA5 BMW.

Named after its founder Vincenzo "Enzo" Osella, the team began life by racing Abarth sports cars in local and national races in the mid 1960s in Italy. Though relatively successful (Osella eventually took over the factory Abarth sports car program), Osella expanded into single seater racing in 1974 to further develop his business. The team would rise to Formula Two in 1975 achieving some success with its own car (the Osella FA2); François Migault scored one point.

Osella Corse made another attempt in 1976 in the same league with unchanged material but by now the team was not competitive. Additionally, the team suffered from severe financial problems which meant that the works team was withdrawn from Formula Two in the middle of 1976. In the following years the Osella FA2s were occasionally entered by privateers, one of them being the Swiss Charly Kiser.

Customer F3[edit]

Enzo Osella tried to make some money by selling a self-penned Formula 3 car (Osella FA3) with little success. Only a few privateers (one of them being Giorgio Francia who later would drive Osella's Formula One car) were optimistic enough to buy that simple untested machine. The cars ran with Toyota or Lancia engines in the 1976 German and Italian F3 championships without making any great impression. After this unsuccessful attempt, the racing activities of Osella Corse nearly came to an end. The team attended some local sports car events but avoided any single seater races from 1976 to 1978.

Osella had to wait until the beginning of 1979 when the former Hesketh and Theodore Racing Grand Prix driver Eddie Cheever was persuaded to race the well-used FA2 once again in a Formula Two championship. Surprisingly, the red car was good enough to win three races. This was enough for Enzo Osella to take the plunge into the cut and thrust world of Formula One.

Formula One[edit]

Early years[edit]

While the F2-Osella was entered on one occasion in 1980 by the Italian privateer Marco Rocca, Osella Squadra Corse appeared in the world of Grand Prix racing with its first Formula 1 machine, the FA1. The car was designed by Giorgio Stirano. Powered by Ford Cosworth DFV, it was overweight and aerodynamically inefficient. The car was presented in a blue and white livery with large Denim branding on the sidepods. Many components were manufactured in-house which meant that they were cheap to produce but not always state-of-the-art. The driver was again Eddie Cheever who was able to finish just one race in whole season. Frequently, he had to suffer from the massive unreliability of his car. In the following seasons, the basic design was changed several times.

In the early years, most of the work was done by interim designers like Giorgio Valentini or Tony Southgate, but frequently Enzo Osella himself also worked on the cars. Most of these attempts brought no improvement as high tech solutions could not be financed. . Jean-Pierre Jarier finished fourth at Imola in 1982 (where only 14 cars started) and scored the first Championship points for the young team in a car that was by now dubbed Osella FA1C.

Despite this result, neither the financial nor the technical situation improved. Few sponsors were attracted by the tiny Italian team. Denim only stayed for the first two seasons, Kelemata was no more reliable, and others like Landis & Gyr vanished as quickly as they had come. Most of the other sponsors were small or mid-size companies from Turin or the region of Piemont.

Driver merry-go-round[edit]

The lack of funding led to frequent driver changes as the team demanded that their drivers bring significant sponsorship to keep the team afloat. Some drivers started a career at Osella, such as Alex Caffi and Nicola Larini. Others disappeared as quickly as they had come (such as Franco Forini or Allen Berg). Enzo Osella gave the young Austrian Jo Gartner his one and only chance to drive a Formula One car in 1984. Riccardo Paletti also had high hopes but was killed in a startline accident at the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix.

None of these drivers was able to push the team ahead. Finally, Osella Corse continued to live hand-to-mouth each year with little or no improvement in competitiveness.

Alfa Romeo[edit]

Alfa-Romeo derived FA1F at the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix, where Ghinzani achieved Osella's second and last points finish.

In the mid 1980s, Osella was the beneficiary of factory Alfa Romeo engines (both in normally aspirated (1983) and turbo (1984–1988) forms). On one hand, the Alfa engine program helped the team to survive the increasingly professional turbo era. On the other hand the heavy, unreliable and thirsty machines contributed to the team's lack of competitiveness. At least in the beginning, Alfa offered some technical input to the small Turin team; the 1984 Osella (the model FA1F) was based on the 1983 works Alfa Romeo 183T, which had been loaned to the team for "design assistance" purposes. All the following Osella models up to the FA1I in 1988 had their origins in the initial Alfa design.

The Alfa engine was not reliable. Chargers blew off regularly and power output had to be reduced down to the level of the non-turbo cars just to achieve the necessary reliability. Osella more than once tried to replace the Alfa engines with more up-to-date Motori Moderni-Turbos (which Minardi did not support) or with Cosworth engines. In the end, both solutions were too expensive so Osella had to stay with his out-dated but cheap Alfa engines.

For the 1988 season, the team re-branded Alfa Romeo 890T as the "Osella V8" for the final year before turbo engines were banned from 1989. This came about after Alfa's parent company Fiat grew tired of the negative publicity the unsuccessful team had given their engine, and while allowing the team to continue using the engine, refused to allow the Alfa Romeo name to be used.

After driver Nicola Larini managed some impressive times in testing at Monza before the season started (with top speeds of around 300 km/h (186 mph)), the team were quietly confident of a decent showing through the season as many teams had switched to the naturally aspirated engines in preparation for 1989. However, the reality was that the Osella FA1L with its outdated V8 turbo was not up to the challenge (like all Osellas to that point, the car also had its aerodynamic origins in Alfa's 1983 factory car, the 183T). The talented Larini often failed to qualify or even pre-qualify, and even being excluded from the San Marino Grand Prix before practice after failing to get through scrutineering due to illegal changes to made to the chassis. At the end of the season team owner Enzo Osella was more than happy to be finally rid of the old Alfa engine.

Cosworth power and Fondmetal[edit]

The 1989 season saw much improvement. The all new, Cosworth DFR powered Osella FA1M was a big step ahead, and ultra-sticky qualifying tyres from Pirelli brought some success, at least in the qualifying sessions. In the Japanese Grand Prix where Nicola Larini qualified 10th. The fine qualifying performance brought no results in the races; the Osella cars almost never saw the finish line due to several technical failures. The most tragic race was the Canadian Grand Prix in which Larini was third before the FA1M's electrics failed due to water ingress. Piercarlo Ghinzani re-joined the team for 1989 with limited success, often failing to qualify. He announced his retirement at the season ending Australian Grand Prix. While Larini failed to start the very wet race when his electrics were water-logged on the grid, Ghinzani's race and career came to a violent end after an unsighted Nelson Piquet in his Lotus hit the Osella at high speed. Piquet was lucky to escape injury as a wheel hit his helmet, while Ghinzani limped away having banged his ankle.

In 1990, after 10 years in Formula One and still without any meaningful sponsorship, Enzo Osella sold shares in his team to metalwork magnate Gabriele Rumi as part of a sponsorship deal with the Fondmetal company. During 1990, the team entered a single car for French driver Olivier Grouillard who unfortunately gained a reputation in F1 for being what BBC commentator James Hunt called a "notorious blocker", a driver who generally ignored flags and his mirrors and regularly held up the faster cars. At the end of 1990, Rumi took over the remainder of the team and renamed it Fondmetal.

Return to sportscars[edit]

BMW-powered Osella PA20

The involvement of Gabriele Rumi meant the end of Enzo Osella's activities in Formula One. Instead he concentrated on the thing he knew best: sports car racing. During his Formula One years, he never gave up building sports cars; in fact this was one of the few projects that regularly brought money to Volpiano. A few of those sports cars even found their way to the Can Am series, although without much success. The most prestigious result was during the 1984 Can Am season with a third place in the championship for the 2-litre class; the car was the Osella PA10 driven by Armando Trentini, and was the only two-seater in the championship; the rest of the 2-litre class field comprised single-seater F2 cars with covered wheels. In the 1990s, Osella moved to Atella in the south of Italy where he built a new ultra-modern facility to produce some very competitive sports cars. Many of them were sold to privateers, while others were entered in several classes by the Osella works team. The works team was particularly successful in hillclimb races. In 1995 for instance works team driver Pasquale Irlando won all 9 races of the European hillclimb championship using the Osella PA18. He won the title in 1997, 1998 and 1999 consecutively. His successor Fabio Danti died in one of Osella's cars when he was competing in the 2000 Championship. Hillclimb stars like Franz Tschager and Martin Krisam continue to use Osella cars.

Nowadeys, the factory was transferred back near Turin, in Verolengo and continue activity building sport cars for hill climbing and minor sport race championship.

Racing record[edit]

Complete Formula Two results[edit]

(key)

Year Chassis Engine Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1974 Osella PA2 BMW BAR HOC PAU SAL HOC MUG KAR PER HOC VAL
Italy Arturo Merzario Ret
1975 Osella FA2
March 742
BMW EST THR HOC NÜR PAU HOC SAL ROU MUG PER SIL ZOL NOG VAL
Italy Giorgio Francia 4 10 5 6 Ret 5 5 DNS 4 9 5 Ret Ret
Italy Diulio Truffo 5 6 8 Ret 6 6 Ret 5 5 Ret
Italy Roberto Filannino 15 Ret DNQ
Italy Arturo Merzario Ret Ret
1976 Osella FA2 BMW HOC THR VAL SAL PAU HOC ROU MUG PER EST NOG HOC
Italy Giorgio Francia DNQ Ret 11
Italy Gianfranco Trombetti Ret Ret DNQ
Italy Arturo Merzario DNQ
1979 Osella FA2/79 BMW SIL HOC THR NÜR VAL MUG PAU HOC ZAN PER MIS DON
United States Eddie Cheever 1 5 Ret 8 Ret Ret 1 Ret 1 5 6 7

Complete Formula One results[edit]

(key) (results in bold indicate pole position)

Year Chassis Engine(s) Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WCC Points
1980 Osella FA1
FA1B
Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G ARG BRA RSA USW BEL MON FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN USA NC 0
United States Eddie Cheever DNQ DNQ Ret Ret DNQ DNQ Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret 12 Ret Ret
1981 Osella FA1B
FA1C
Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 M USW BRA ARG SMR BEL MON ESP FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA CAN CPL NC 0
Argentina Miguel Ángel Guerra DNQ DNQ DNQ Ret
Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani 13 DNQ
Italy Giorgio Francia DNQ
France Jean-Pierre Jarier 8 8 10 Ret 9 Ret Ret
Italy Beppe Gabbiani Ret DNQ DNQ Ret Ret DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ
1982 Osella FA1C
FA1D
Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 P RSA BRA USW SMR BEL MON DET CAN NED GBR FRA GER AUT SUI ITA CPL 12th 3
France Jean-Pierre Jarier Ret 9 Ret 4 Ret DNQ Ret Ret 14 Ret Ret Ret DNQ Ret Ret
Italy Riccardo Paletti DNQ DNPQ DNQ Ret DNPQ DNPQ DNS Ret
1983 Osella FA1D Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 M BRA USW FRA SMR MON BEL DET CAN GBR GER AUT NED ITA EUR RSA NC 0
Italy Corrado Fabi Ret DNQ Ret Ret DNQ Ret Ret Ret
Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani DNQ DNQ DNQ
Osella FA1E Alfa Romeo 1260 3.0 V12 Italy Corrado Fabi DNQ DNQ 10 11 Ret DNQ Ret NC 0
Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani DNQ DNQ DNQ Ret DNQ Ret Ret 11 DNQ Ret Ret Ret
1984 Osella FA1F Alfa Romeo 890T 1.5 V8(t/c) P BRA RSA BEL SMR FRA MON CAN DET DAL GBR GER AUT NED ITA EUR POR 12th 2
Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Ret DNS Ret DNQ 12 7 Ret Ret 5 9 Ret Ret Ret 7 Ret Ret
Austria Jo Gartner Ret Ret Ret 12 5 Ret 16
Osella FA1E Alfa Romeo 1260 3.0 V12 Austria Jo Gartner Ret
1985 Osella FA1F
FA1G
Alfa Romeo 890T 1.5 V8(t/c) P BRA POR SMR MON CAN DET FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA BEL EUR RSA AUS NC 0
Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani 12 9 NC DNQ Ret Ret 15 Ret
Netherlands Huub Rothengatter Ret 9 NC Ret NC DNQ Ret 7
1986 Osella FA1G
FA1F
FA1H
Alfa Romeo 890T 1.5 V8(t/c) P BRA ESP SMR MON BEL CAN DET FRA GBR GER HUN AUT ITA POR MEX AUS NC 0
Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Ret Ret Ret DNQ Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret 11 Ret Ret Ret Ret
Germany Christian Danner Ret Ret Ret DNQ Ret Ret
Canada Allen Berg Ret Ret Ret 12 Ret Ret 13 16 NC
Italy Alex Caffi NC
1987 Osella FA1I Alfa Romeo 890T 1.5 V8(t/c) G BRA SMR BEL MON DET FRA GBR GER HUN AUT ITA POR ESP MEX JPN AUS NC 0
Italy Alex Caffi Ret 12 Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret DNQ Ret Ret DNQ
Italy Gabriele Tarquini Ret
Switzerland Franco Forini Ret Ret DNQ
1988 Osella FA1I
FA1L
Osella 890T 1.5 V8(t/c) G BRA SMR MON MEX CAN DET FRA GBR GER HUN BEL ITA POR ESP JPN AUS NC 0
Italy Nicola Larini DNQ DSQ 9 DNQ DNQ Ret Ret 19 Ret DNPQ Ret Ret 12 Ret Ret DNPQ
1989 Osella FA1M Cosworth DFR 3.5 V8 P BRA SMR MON MEX USA CAN FRA GBR GER HUN BEL ITA POR ESP JPN AUS NC 0
Italy Nicola Larini DSQ 12 DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ Ret DNPQ Ret DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ Ret DNPQ Ret Ret Ret
Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ Ret DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ Ret DNPQ Ret
1990 Osella FA1M-E Cosworth DFR 3.5 V8 P USA BRA SMR MON CAN MEX FRA GBR GER HUN BEL ITA POR ESP JPN AUS NC 0
France Olivier Grouillard Ret Ret Ret DNQ 13 19 DNPQ DNQ DNQ DNPQ 16 Ret DNQ Ret DNQ 13

Not eligible for points.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ originally (70s-80's) in Volpiano, Italy. After, until 2009 Atella, Italy

References[edit]