The FA1L at the 1988 British Grand Prix
|Chassis||Carbon fibre monocoque|
|Suspension (front)||Double wishbones, pullrods|
|Suspension (rear)||Double wishbones, pullrods|
|Axle track||Front: 1,800 mm (71 in)
Rear: 1,672 mm (65.8 in)
|Wheelbase||2,776 mm (109.3 in)|
|Engine||Osella 890T 1,497 cc (91.4 cu in), V8, turbo (2.5 Bar limited), mid-engine, longitudinally mounted|
|Transmission||Hewland / Osella 6-speed manual|
|Weight||560 kg (1,230 lb)|
|Notable entrants||Osella Squadra Corse|
|Notable drivers||21. Nicola Larini|
|Debut||1988 Monaco Grand Prix|
The Osella FA1L was a Formula One car designed by Antonio Tomaini and raced by Osella in the 1988 Formula One season. The car was the last Osella to be powered by a turbocharged engine, the 1.5 litre V8 named the Osella 890T. The car was driven by young Italian Nicola Larini who had made his F1 debut with Coloni in 1987.
The engine of the FA1L was in fact the old Alfa Romeo 890T turbo engine that had been introduced to Formula One in 1983. Osella had been using Alfa turbo power since 1984, but had only scored 2 points with the engine in 5 seasons when Piercarlo Ghinzani had finished 5th in the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix. Generally both the teams cars and the engine had proved unreliable and as a result Fiat, the parent company of Alfa Romeo, withdrew its support for the engine, though they allowed Osella to keep using it in 1988 so long as the Alfa name was not used. This resulted in the engine being renamed the Osella 890T (or Osella V8) for the season.
Despite the 890T being reportedly the most powerful engine in F1 in 1988 with around 700 bhp (522 kW; 710 PS) (some 50 bhp more than the Honda and Ferrari V6 turbos), 1988 can be seen as a dismal failure for the small Italian team owned by Enzo Osella, though Larini reported that early season testing at Monza had produced what he believed to be good straight-line speed and encouraging lap times. However, the car proved to be heavy (560 kg (1,230 lb)) and produced excessive drag which hurt its top speed while not producing enough downforce which made it slow when cornering (like all Osella's since 1984, the FA1L actually had its origins in the Alfa Romeo 183T used by the factory Alfa team in 1983). Also, the V8 turbo engine suffered from both high fuel consumption and a lack of throttle response (turbo lag). Indeed the FA1L (appropriately nicknamed "FAIL") was often hard pressed to qualify or race as fast as the slower 'atmo' V8 cars which generally had around 100 bhp (75 kW; 101 PS) less than the turbo V8. While top speeds were generally around the same as the slower atmo cars, the non-turbo V8's did not suffer from turbo lag and thus had far better acceleration.
After using 1987's FA1I for the opening round in Brazil, the FA1L first appeared in Round 2 at the San Marino Grand Prix, but failed to pass scrutineering after it was found the team had illegally changed the engine mounting points and also because the drivers feet were in front of the front axle line (new FIA safety regulations for 1988 meant that all cars had to have the drivers feet behind the front axle line). The cars second race in Monaco was its most successful outing. There Larini qualified 25th (second last, though out-qualifying the Lotus-Honda of Satoru Nakajima who failed to qualify), and managed to stay out of trouble to finish 9th, 3 laps down on race winner Alain Prost in his McLaren-Honda.
From there the rot set in for the team. The cars shortcomings were exposed at the next race in Mexico where Larini failed to qualify despite the thinner air in the high altitude of Mexico City giving the turbo powered cars an extra 20-25% horsepower advantage over their atmospheric rivals than was normal (meaning that the Osella V8 could still use its reported 700 bhp while the best atmo engine, the Ford DFR used by Benetton, was only producing around 560-590 bhp). The FA1L was the only turbo car not to qualify in Mexico.
Larini only finished 3 races in 1988. Other than his 9th in Monaco, he was classified 19th and last at Silverstone after running out of fuel on lap 60 of the 65 lap race (highlighting the 890T's high fuel consumption, something that had plagued the engine since re-fuelling was banned after 1983), and 12th in Portugal. After scoring no points in the first half of the season to the British Grand Prix Osella was forced into pre-qualifying. Larini failed to pre-qualify the car in both Hungary and at the final round in Australia. The cars best qualifying performance was at Jerez for the Spanish Grand Prix where Larini ended up 14th on the grid, only 2.945 seconds slower than the pole winning McLaren of Ayrton Senna.
On average, Larini and the FA1L qualified some 5.8 seconds slower than the pole winning times set during the season.
Complete Formula One results
|1988||Osella Squadra Corse||Osella 890T
- Roebuck, Nigel; Tremayne, David; Hamilton, Maurice; Jones, Alan (1989). Grand Prix World Formula One Championship 1988/89. Magenta Press Ltd. ISBN 0-908081-59-6.