|Staff|| Tino Belli|
|Drivers||Olivier Grouillard, Gabriele Tarquini, Andrea Chiesa, Eric van de Poele|
|Debut||1991 United States Grand Prix|
|Wins||0 (best finish: 10th x 2)|
|Poles||0 (best grid position: 10th 1992 Mexican Grand Prix)|
|Last race||1992 Australian Grand Prix|
Fondmetal was a Formula One constructor from 1991 through 1992, as well as a Formula One engine supplier in 2000. The team scored no points in 29 races and was never classified in either World Championship.
The team was spawned by Gabriele Rumi's Fondmetal alloy wheels company. Rumi, a motor racing enthusiast, was a regular sponsor of Italian teams in various classes. In the 1980s, Fondmetal supplied some Formula One teams with wheels, and by 1985, the Fondmetal name appeared for the first time on an Osella Formula One machine. In the next few years, Fondmetal remained a reliable sponsor for Osella; in fact many times it was the only major one. In 1989, Fondmetal turned out to be Osella's main sponsor, when two bright Osella Fa1Ms in unusual white livery wore large Fondmetal letters on the hood. As the years went by, Enzo Osella was forced to sell some interests in his team to Fondmetal. In 1990, Fondmetal owned the majority of the team, and at the end of the year, Gabriele Rumi finally took over the whole operation.
Rumi transferred the team from Volpiano near Torino to his headquarter in Bergamo and ran it for one and a half years on his own. He initially persevered with Osella's driver, Olivier Grouillard, until he tired of the Frenchman's reckless side and attitude problem, replacing him with Gabriele Tarquini. The new team was no more successful than in the Osella days, sometimes the results being even worse than those of its fellow back row contenders Coloni or AGS.
For the 1991 Formula One season, Osella Squadra corse was gone; the team re-appeared as Fondmetal Corse. Initially, Fondmetal entered the FA1/ME which was a mere carry-over from last year (and in fact from 1989 as Osella had not been able to erect a new car in 1990). Driven by Olivier Grouillard, the blue and grey coloured machine was uncompetitive by any means. In the first two races of the season, Grouillard was slower than anybody. Although Fondmetal was able to use Cosworth engines prepared by Brian Hart from last years Tyrrell team, even Pedro Chaves in his Coloni was ahead of the Bergamo car. In that hostile atmosphere, pre-qualification turned out to be impossible. But Rumi had high hopes for the European season. By the San Marino Grand Prix, a new car appeared, called the FOMET1. It was elaborated by a newly-founded think-tank in the UK called Fomet. The Bicester-based design office was headed by Tino Belli and founded by Rumi who thought that British input was necessary for gaining success. The FOMET 1 featured new aerodynamics , a new suspension and some other improvements, but apart from this, the new car obviously conserving its Osella roots. Finally, things improved a little, but not significantly. With the new car, Grouillard managed to be faster than the Coloni machine, but that does not mean that Fondmetal was able to pass pre-qualifying regularly. Only a handful of race participations were possible, but results were poor. In the end, Grouillard was replaced by former AGS man Gabriele Tarquini who finished twice (from three attempts) but no points were scored.
At the end of 1991, due to some financial troubles, the British FOMET subsidiary where the designers had been working on a new Formula One car since the previous summer found its way into independence. Tino Belli sold the layout of the new car to the French Larrousse Formula One team which left Fondmetal without a new car for the next season. Instead, Gabriele Rumi commissioned Sergio Rinland from Astauto to design a new machine. Naturally, it was not ready for the season opening so for the first few races, last year's car had to do it again. Now dubbed GR01, it had seen few modifications; the major change was the installation of a Ford HB V8 engine (a carry-over from last year's Benetton machine) that came instead of the Lamborghini V12 or the Judd V10 that Rumi had preferred. The engine and the chassis did not go together well. There were some cooling troubles, and reliability was poor. The team appeared with two drivers, one being Tarquini, the other one being the Swiss debutant Andrea Chiesa. Tarquini showed speed, but the car was fragile.
Things should be better in late spring when the new chassis found its way on the circuits. The GR02 had nothing in common with former years´ Osellas and Fondmetals. The roots of its design dated back to late 1991 when Sergio Rinland was working for the Brabham team on the new Brabham BT61 that never saw the light of day. Instead, the basic structures of this design were carried over to the 1992 Fondmetal. Hence, the GR02 had some qualities and indeed was well regarded by its drivers. However, results turned out to be disappointing, with minor problems often stopping the cars after they qualified well. The team had little funds so tests were few and development slow. Finishes were rare. Tarquini often qualified this car surprisingly high up the order, and at the Hungarian Grand Prix put in Fondmetal's best performance to qualify 12th. Chiesa never got going, however, usually failing to qualify, and was replaced by Eric van de Poele for the Hungarian Grand Prix. While he proved competitive, he also collided with Tarquini in Hungary, losing the Italian team's last chance of a points finish. Three races later in September 1992, the team withdrew, feeling the pinch of the worldwide recession and of scoring no results better than a pair of 10th places.
Fondmetal and Forti Corse
Before closing his factory down, Gabriele Rumi had commissioned Sergio Rinland to work on a 1993 Fondmetal. Plans for that machine were finished late 1992. A few years later, Rinland sold the plans to Guido Forti who started running a Formula One team called Forti Corse by 1995. The team's FG01 still had several similarities to the 1992 Fondmetal GR02.
Fondmetal and Minardi
Rumi would return to Formula One in a more modest capacity in 1995, with Fondmetal sponsoring Tyrrell, and for 1996 would switch his support to Minardi. Fondmetal also owned a wind tunnel in Northern Italy that was offered to Tyrrell, Minardi and other teams. Rumi would gradually increase his interest in the Faenza outfit, becoming co-owner and chairman. However, Rumi had contracted cancer, and was forced to withdraw his backing in 2000 when the team was sold to Paul Stoddart. Rumi eventually died in May 2001.
Formula One results
|Year||Team||Driver||# of GPs|
|1992||Fondmetal-Ford||Eric van de Poele||3|
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