Is the Coloni team heading to IndyCars?

Having made its shock announcement that it was withdrawing from the GP2 Series at the end of the year, the Scuderia Coloni outfit is reportedly eyeing a switch to the IndyCar Series.

F1 fans might remember the Coloni name as one of a succession of low-budget privateer teams who tried – and dramatically failed – to make the grade in Formula 1 in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Founded by former Italian F3 champion Enzo Coloni, the outfit quickly emerged as a frontrunner in the Italian and European Formula 3 scene – Ivan Capelli and Nicola Larini both claimed championships with the team en route to their F1 debuts.

After a brief move into Formula 3000, Coloni bit the bullet and moved into Formula 1, contesting two rounds of the 1987 championship season before launching a full-scale assault in 1988.

In a period where there were up to forty cars competing for the 26 available grid slots, the Coloni outfit was often relegated to that of a non-qualifier, although drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Roberto Moreno were occasionally able to perform minor miracles and qualify for the occasional race.

Gabriele Tarquini Roberto Moreno

Then came the team’s ill-fated decision to team up with Subaru, which paid for a flat-12 engine to be designed by Carlo Chiti, whose Motori Moderni concern had previously supplied underpowered and unreliable V6 turbo engines to the Minardi F1 team in its early years.

The 1990 Coloni Subaru partnership was a disaster Needless to say, things didn’t improve much. The 1990 challenger was hopelessly off-the-pace and overweight, to the point that it was even slower than the useless and short-lived Life entry which graced the entry list that year. The partnership with Subaru was dissolved mid-season, and switch to Ford engines brought little improvement. Its driver Bertrand Gachot failed to make the grid once all season.

The 1991 season saw the team consist of just six people, and the Ford-powered car was little more than a slightly-updated version of its 1989 model. With newcomer Pedro Chaves on board, the car never escaped prequalification, and the team closed its doors at the end of the season, selling its entry to the even more hopeless Andrea Moda concern.

It failed to make the prequalifying cut in 1991, and the team withdrew from F1 at the end of the year
It failed to make the prequalifying cut in 1991, and the team withdrew from F1 at the end of the year 

In its final two years, the team hadn’t come close to making the prequalifying cut, racking up a mammoth 67 failures to make the grid in its time in F1.

Coloni returned to its Formula 3 roots, with team founder Enzo running his son Paolo for a few years before taking on a host of other drivers, including Esteban Tuero, the teenage Argentine racer who would drive for Minardi in 1998.

From 1997 onwards, the team returned to Formula 3000 and remained in the category as it morphed into what is known today as the GP2 Series. Its drivers have twice finished as championship runner-up (in 2002-3), and the team also enjoyed a stint under the co-ownership of former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella.

Then came the team’s press release during the British Grand Prix weekend, which gave no reason for the team’s departure from the GP2 Series championship.

“Scuderia Coloni will leave GP2 at the end of 2012,” the briefly-worded statement reads.

Coloni will end its GP2 association at the end of the year “As a result of a disagreement between the team and the Series organiser, an agreement was reached in order to terminate the contract between the two parties at the end of this season. As a consequence of the team not taking part in the 2013 championship, Scuderia Coloni has accepted to forfeit all the points scored in the 2012 team classification.”

But speculation has now arisen that the team could emerge in the IndyCar Series, with Paolo Coloni telling that the series represented a better launching pad for up and coming drivers.

“Apart from owning a team that will race in the GP2 Series until the end of the 2012, I’m also managing some drivers,” he said.

“As a driver manager, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to help them in becoming motorsport ‘pros’, really earning a life from racing.

“In Europe all [these] young talents spend million[s of] Euros in GP2 and [Formula] Renault 3.5 in order to boost their careers, but [the] reality is that unless you are followed directly by a manufacturer, the only way to enter F1 is having at least 15 million Euros, [and] that will buy you a seat in the last two rows of the grid.

How would Coloni fare on the IndyCar scene?“So it’s time to realise that from Europe we need to look for other options, and I believe that IndyCar offers a lot to a driver and to his potential sponsors,” he added.

“It’s a huge show and in terms of media interest and coverage, fan base and so on it’s much better than what Europe can offer below Formula 1.

“Looking at both the far and recent past there are European drivers that managed to became crowd favourites in IndyCar. I’m speaking about Alex Zanardi, Max Papis, Dario Franchitti among others, so I really think that we should pay attention to what happens on the other side of the pond.

“So I would like to create a link that can regularly bring European drivers to IndyCar. This could be done with my own team, or it could begin bringing a driver to an existing outfit and then evolve in a Coloni IndyCar team later.

“I’m open to many options, but I can’t deny that bringing our name to race on the same field as a great family of American motorsport like the Andrettis, as well as competitive teams as Penske and Rahal Letterman [Lanigan], would be really motivating for us.”

Watch this space…

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.