Instalment 12 (Letter ‘D’ – Part 1) of the F1 Constructors in History from A to Z series looks at the successful chassis producer, Dallara.
Founded in 1972 in Italy by Giampaolo Dallara, his namesake company has been integral to IndyCar, Formula Three and other racing series; but in 1988, they took the plunge into Formula 1 as a constructor – scoring 2 podiums and 15 championship points. While Dallara is no longer a Formula 1 constructor, they still remain ubiquitous to motorsport around the world.
Formula 1 History
Dallara were drafted in by fellow Italian-based company, BMS Scuderia Italia, to produce their chassis. Their maiden car, the F188, was powered by a Ford DFR 3.5 V8 engine and was driven by Italian Alex Caffi in 1988. Beppe Lucchini’s BMS team’s best result that season was 7th at the Portuguese Grand Prix. He was the highest placed car to be lapped.
Year 2 of 5 of the Dallara/BMS partnership was raced with an unchanged chassis in the 1989 F189-Ford, designed by Marco Tolentino and Dallara. BMS fielded two cars, with Andrea de Cesaris joining compatriot Caffi. Both drivers collected 4 points that year, Cesaris taking a notable 3rd place finish in Canada – one of only two podiums in the team’s history. Dallara finished 8th overall in the Constructors Championship with 8 points; their Formula 1 career had peaked.
In 1990, Caffi made way for fellow Italian Emanuele Pirro to race alongside de Cesaris, but both failed to score in the F190-Ford designed by Christian Vanderpleyn. With 25 retirements, one failure to qualify and one disqualification between the two of them, the BMS-entered Dallara team failed to classify on the final constructors’ table.
Pirro was joined by Finnish driver JJ Lehto in 1991. The F191 was fitted with a Judd 3.5L V10 engine and powered Lehto to the second of 2 podiums for the team in their history – 3rd place behind the McLaren’s of Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger at the San Marino Grand Prix. Dallara finished 8th in the Constructors’ Championship for the second time, scoring 5 points.
Italian Pierluigi Martini joined the team alongside Lehto for 1992, as the BMS Scuderia Italia team continued to privately enter two Dallara chassis’. The F192 was fitted with a 1991-spec Ferrari 3.5L V12 engine, leaving Lehto constantly just outside the points positions with two 8th and four 9th positions. Martini climbed to two 6th places, scoring 2 points for the team that year, placing Dallara 10th position overall.
Sadly, with financial issues crippling Beppe Lucchini’s BMS outfit, the partnership ended after 5 mediocre years. Dallara also announced it would not continue in Formula 1, prioritising its Formula Three and Indy Racing League campaigns.
Later Formula 1 Involvement
Dallara announced they would be making a Formula 1 resurgence in 1999 in a partnership with Honda, but following a test-chassis build, Honda pulled out of their planned return.
Gary Anderson joined Dallara in 2004, prompting anticipation for a return to F1 for the company. Despite an announcement that they were in production with the Midland F1 team, building a chassis for 2006, the relationship became disjointed, Midland utilised the Jordan team’s resources and Dallara never produced a chassis.
Dallara produced the chassis for the 2010 Hispania F110. HRT had a sorry existence due to the broken promises of Formula 1 management and suffered crippling financial troubles from the outset – they simply couldn’t afford to pay Dallara. HRT bosses claimed the chassis was of remarkably poor quality and, quite unsurprisingly, the HRT-Dallara relationship broke down very quickly.
In 2014, it was announced that Dallara was to manufacture a Formula 1 chassis for NASCAR supremo Gene Haas and his new F1 team. In February 2016, the Haas Formula 1 Team unveiled the VF-16, powered by Ferrari and manufactured by Dallara. The same manufacturers combined to create the VF-17 for the 2017 season.
Next week, this series returns to the 1960s, taking the somewhat American conclusion to this episode with it! Think you know the team? Stay tuned!