The Japanese Grand Prix was a wet and wild affair that put Lewis Hamilton within reach of his first World Championship. Only another crazy race like the one at Fuji will rob him of title glory.
There was another big winner this weekend because Spyker emerged from the chaos with their first, and likely only, world championship point.
Adrian Sutil finished ninth on the road but took the final scoring position when Tonio Liuzzi was disqualified for overtaking under yellow flags. Spyker’s first point is well deserved and is a just reward for the hard work they have put in this season.
Spyker introduced their new car at the Italian Grand Prix but the first sign of improvement came at Spa Francorchamps. Up until that point Spyker were over a second per lap slower than Scuderia Toro Rosso, but have now closed the gap to within two tenths. It is a massive turnaround and shows just how hard all the Formula One teams work, even at the back of the grid.
Sutil has also driven well this year and is worthy of some decent results. He was fastest at Monaco in the wet and also passed six cars during the Belgian Grand Prix to race as high as twelfth. His speed has been enough to warrant the sacking of Christijan Albers.
With that in mind it was very fitting that both Sutil and Spyker were rewarded with their first points at Fuji. Although the team has improved dramatically over the past month they needed the foggy Japanese mountains to elevate them into a competitive position.
Sutil’s point is likely to be the only one that Spyker ever score in F1. Indian businessman, Vijay Mallya, has bought the team and already has big changes planned for 2008.
With three races remaining for Spyker in Formula One it seems unlikely they will add onto their points haul. Alonso needs a miracle to win the title, and Spyker will need one to finish in eighth again.
There are only two other teams in the history of Formula One who have scored just one point. One of them is Scuderia Toro Rosso and the other is Tecno Racing.
Toro Rosso are likely to add onto their points tally at some point in the future. In fact they are unlucky to have not scored more already, especially considering Liuzzi had an outside chance of third place at this year’s Canadian Grand Prix. More success will come for the Faenza based team, especially with the likes of Vettel and Bourdais at the wheel.
That will leave Spyker and Tecno alone in the record books as the only teams to have scored a single point. Most teams that are good enough to score in Formula One are good enough to do so more than once, but Tecno was not one of them.
Tecno Racing competed in Formula One for only two years in 1972 and ‘73. Although their Grand Prix success was limited the team arrived in F1 with some solid motorsport pedigree.
When Go-Karting took off in popularity during the 60’s, Italian brothers Gianfranco and Luciano Pederzani thought they’d get involved. They ran an engineering company in northern Italy that produced various small engine parts and decided to branch out into go-kart construction. They did so with immediate success and after only five years ‘Tecno Racing’ had won three world championships.
In 1966 the brothers started building racing cars and just two years later they won the Italian, French and Swedish Formula Three titles. Tecno was a team going places.
The next step for Luciano and Gianfranco was Formula Two. In their second year of competition Tecno won five of the eight rounds and took the championship with Clay Regazzoni.
It was time to try Formula One.
Tecno’s foray into Grand Prix racing couldn’t have come at a better time for Italian drinks company Martini & Rossi. They were interested in sponsoring an Italian Formula One team and Tecno provided the perfect opportunity.
The team instantly started preparing a Formula One car for the 1971 season. Luciano Pederzani designed the engine himself but unfortunately it was not a competitive unit. It was very similar to Ferrari’s design but due to budget restrictions he could only use much heavier materials during construction. Although the engine produced plenty of horsepower it was simply too heavy to be successful.
The engine was ready halfway through 1971 but the rest of the car was not, meaning Tecno Racing had to delay their debut until 1972.
That was when things started to go wrong.
Just before the season started Tecno discovered their car was too wide for the F1 regulations and it had to be completely rebuilt. As a result they missed the first four races and only had one car ready for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Giovanni Galli was chosen to race the car ahead of the other team driver, Derek Bell. Perhaps that was a bad decision because Galli fared poorly until lap 57 when he crashed into a Ferrari that was lapping him. The result was a complete disaster for Tecno. Not only was the car slow but it took out a Ferrari and the local Italian press consequently turned against them.
Derek Bell and Giovanni Galli shared the drive until a second car was ready with three Grands Prix remaining, but neither of them finished a single race all year.
The sponsors, Martini & Rossi, were understandably livid and decided to commission their own car from English designer Gordon Fowell. The Pederzani brothers knew that Fowell would take awhile to design the car so continued with their own blueprints for 1973. In a very uncooperative manner, the two design teams started competing with each other to see whose car would make it onto the grid.
Tecno was effectively split into two and both sides were contesting the same limited resources. The Pederzani car was ready first, but due to the infighting it was not completed until round five of the 1973 season.
Amongst the chaos, Tecno managed to sign Chris Amon to drive for them. Amon was one of the fastest men throughout the sixties and had been Ferrari’s main charge for three years. By the time Tecno signed him Amon had amassed 80 points along with eight non championship victories. It was a major coup for the struggling team to have a driver of his calibre on board.
Unfortunately for Amon the car was very uncompetitive.
After only two races the team decided to abandon the Pederzani car and push their efforts towards the Gordon Fowell design. The new car debuted at the British Grand Prix but was created in such a rush that Amon could not even fit inside it.
Chris Amon is not a big man.
The new Fowell car never actually raced and had been such a drain on resources that Tecno had to skip Grands Prix to save money.
The fighting between sponsors and owners reached boiling point at the Austrian round when Chris Amon angrily left the team. He said the few months he spent with Tecno felt like ten years.
With no money, no driver, and angry sponsors, Tecno Racing disappeared from Formula One before the 1973 season was completed.
There was only one race the team actually finished, and that was the Grand Prix where they scored their solitary point.
Amon qualified fifteenth for the Belgian Grand Prix and took advantage of massive attrition to come home sixth. Only nine cars finished the race so the result was more down to luck than performance.
Spyker got lucky as well this weekend, although they are arguably more deserving than Tecno. Amon had to finish sixth instead of eighth for his point, but Spyker are clearly more professional and will continue to improve under their new owners.
The Spyker company built the first ever four-wheel-drive car in 1903. They will have to rely on that heritage instead of Formula One to market themselves, because the last thing they’d want is to be compared to Tecno.