Guido Forti, founder of the short-lived F1 cellar-dweller team Forti Corse, has died at the age of 72.
The started out in the Italian Formula Ford championship, and their first success came with driver Franco Forini winning the national title in the late 1970s – Forini would later go on to have a brief F1 career in the 1980s.
Among the other F1 aspirants he achieved with included the likes of Teo Fabi, Oscar Larrauri, Emanuele Naspetti, Enrico Bertaggi and Gianni Morbidelli – their successes followed the team’s rise through the lower-rung motorsport categories, particularly in Formula 3 in the mid 1980s.
The team broke into Formula 3000 in 1987, achieving mixed results over the next few years with the likes of Bertaggia, Naspetti and Morbidelli, as well as Nicola Larini, Claudio Langes.
The team opted to concentrate full-time on its Formula 3000 prospects with a view to cracking Formula 1, and in 1992 it signed a deal with Pedro Diniz, whose wealthy family connections gave the team a major income boost from Brazilian sponsors Parmalat, and Sadia who were connected with the Diniz-owned grocery empire.
In 1995, the team broke into Formula 1 with the inexperienced Diniz paired with Formula 1 super-sub Roberto Moreno, whose F1 career had almost been exclusively spent with tail-ender operations.
Sadly, the FG01/95 challenger proved to be no different. Powered by an ageing Cosworth engine, the chassis was bulky and overweight and rarely threatened to get its drivers off the back row of the grid – the sponsors had regular exposure as Diniz and Moreno were frequently lapped by the frontrunners at every Grand Prix.
Diniz moved to Ligier and took his sponsors with him at the end of the year, leaving the outfit with a substantial financial black hole as it struggled to replace the funding loss his departure had resulted.
Forti hired Luca Badoer and Andrea Montermini for the 1996 season, introducing a slightly-updated FG01 for the opening races while newly-signed technical director Sergio Rinland set about finishing off the new car.
With the new 107% qualifying rules in place for 1996, the cars struggled to make the cut for the grid until the new car came in at San Marino, with the Rinland design proving much more competitive from the off.
However, the teams finances were in a perilous position, and it was taken over by the mysterious Shannon Racing group, an entity established by Belco-Avia, a company owed money by the team.
Forti found himself tied up in the courts to try and regain control of his team, but with the Shannon group failing to put any money into the team, its running mileage and development was all but brought to a halt.
The team shut up shop by the mid-season, thereby killing any hopes Forti had of replicating his junior-level successes on the big stage.
As one of the last true privateer entries to have attempted (and failed) at Formula 1, Forti’s subsequent motorsport roles included a brief stint as a team manager in the European Formula 3000 championship in the early 2000s.
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