Designing a Formula One car is a difficult business, with thousands of unique parts that need to come together perfectly in order to deliver results. Get just one thing wrong, whether it's the engine, aerodynamics, chassis, or anything else - and you'll end up with a car that isn't just slow, it's embarrassing.

If you ever needed proof of that, take a look down at the lower end of the grid, where money is tight and resources limited. These days, even the slowest team has multi-million dollar budgets and hundreds of engineers on hand, but this wasn't always the case. And sometimes, this was vividly reflected in the cars they came up with.

So here's four examples from beyond the back of the grid of how not to build an F1 car.


Often cited as the slowest team ever to compete in F1, Life stand as an example of seriously underestimating what it takes to be successful in the sport. In 1990, in the aftermath of the ban on turbos, this tiny Italian outfit saw an opportunity to promote an unusual 3.5-litre W12 engine it had bought the design for, and decided it would show off what it could do with an F1 team.

Compared to every other powerplant on the grid, the W12 turned out to be heavy, overcomplicated and underpowered, churning out just 375 bhp, as opposed to around 600-700 bhp that was the standard for most teams at the time. 

When coupled with a hastily-purchased chassis from the already-failed First team, the result was a car up to 40mph slower in the speed traps than its competitors. Life tried and failed to qualify for 14 races before calling it a day.

MasterCard Lola

A lot of the problems slow F1 cars have can be traced back to a lack of experience or funding, but this wasn't the case with 1997's MasterCard Lola. On paper, it looked a promising combination - Lola had a long history in racing, through building cars for other teams, and had a blue chip sponsor in credit card firm MasterCard. What could possibly go wrong?

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Plenty, as it happens, with the main issue being a late decision - at the behest of the sponsors - to enter the team in the 1997 championship, rather than waiting until 1998 as originally planned. This meant the engine was rushed and unfinished, with development only starting as other teams were unveiling their finished cars.

The MasterCard Lola didn't even have time to undergo wind tunnel testing, so its aerodynamics were non-existent, with the drivers reporting huge drag on the straights, yet no downforce in the corners. Unsurprisingly, it failed to qualify for its one and only race, running around 13 seconds off the pace before the sponsors pulled the plug.


If at first you don't succeed, try again. At least, that's the philosophy the EuroBrun team seemed to take when they went for almost an entire season without progressing past pre-qualifying - then came back the next year to pick up where they left off.

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There were plenty of under-funded, underpowered cars on the grid in the late 80s, but with good management and a bit of reliability, many were able to compete relatively well. Not so at EuroBrun, which by 1989 was a seriously bare-bones operation, with just a handful of mechanics and a single chassis. This was a particular problem given the car's horrendous reliability, with engines, gearboxes, clutches and batteries all prone to give out at the slightest stress.

A failure to get out of qualifying at the season's opening race was as good as it got for EuroBrun, after which they didn't progress from pre-qualifying for 15 consecutive races. After a slight uptick in fortunes at the start of 1990, when they actually started  a couple of races, normal service was quickly resumed, with eight consecutive failures to get out of pre-qualifying. 

Andrea Moda

Whereas some teams struggle with an underpowered engine, a poorly designed chassis, a lack of development funds or poor management, Andrea Moda's problems could be summed up as 'all of the above'. Founded by an Italian shoemaker and playboy, it started life badly after it turned out that the team hadn't paid their entry fee ahead of the opening race and wouldn't be allowed to run the old Coloni cars they'd bought.

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This meant engineers had just three weeks to build a new car. Remarkably, they did it - although freight delays meant they didn't make it to the race. Eventually, they finally arrived at race three with something approximating a working racecar - albeit one that lapped 15 seconds off the pace. And things didn't really get any better.

In Spain, Perry McCarthy's engine blew up 18 yards after leaving the pit lane. In Monaco, he didn't have a proper seat available. At Silverstone, the team didn't have enough tyres and sent McCarthy out on a dry track on wet-weather rubber. And in France, they didn't show up at all because their trucks had been caught up in a road blockade by striking French lorry drivers. Eventually, they became so much of a laughing stock the FIA used the arrest of their owner for fraud as an excuse to ban them altogether for bringing the sport into disrepute.

Randstad has been the official partner of the Williams Martini Racing Team since 2006. Success in Formula One requires the commitment of a talented team performing at the best of their ability. The expertise, spirit of excellence and trust on which we base our relationships, are illustrated within the Williams Martini Racing team every day.

In both the racing world and the HR business, one has to be proactive as well as have quick reflexes to perform well. Like Randstad, the Williams Martini Racing team is an innovative team with a solid track record and a remarkable workforce.