Campos Meta will enter Formula One next year as one of the sport’s new teams and will be faced with an enormous challenge. The current Grand Prix field is the tightest and most competitive of all time which means the established constructors have a considerable advantage over the new entrants. However, Campos Meta are confident they are not out of their and a large part of that is thanks to their technical partner.
Dallara is responsible for building and developing the Campos chassis and already has experience assisting new teams into Formula One. Dallara supplied cars to Scuderia Italia for five years from 1989 and the lessons they learned twenty years ago might prove to be very useful in 2010.
Campos Meta is headed by Adrian Campos, a former Grand Prix driver who raced with Minardi in the late eighties. Adrian’s results in F1 cars were not that spectacular. His best result was 14th and he only finished two of the twenty races he started. Campos raced touring cars after his F1 efforts and won the Spanish Championship, but retired from driving in 1997 and moved into team management.
Campos Racing made its debut in the 1998 Opel Fortuna Nissan series in Spain. This later became Formula Nissan and then morphed into the World Series by Renault. Amazingly, Campos’ team won the championship in its first season with Marc Gene, and then defended it the following year with Fernando Alonso. Another title beckoned before the team moved into other European categories.
In 2005 Campos Racing entered the first ever GP2 championship. The team struggled during their first two seasons but developed into a competitive outfit through 2007. Giorgio Pantano took a pair of victories for the team and finished third in the Drivers Championship. Vitaly Petrov also raced with Campos in 2007 and has remained with the team since, taking four wins and a second place in the championship over the past three years.
Campos Racing won the Teams Championship in 2008 and that was when Adrian felt the time was right to step down and focus his energy on Formula One.
Adrian Campos has always wanted to be in F1 and registered the ‘Campos Grand Prix’ name as far back as 1998. He originally looked at buying Super Aguri when the opportunity arose but was unable to finalise a deal.
Campos teamed up with Meta Image at the start of this year and the two companies made a plan to enter Formula One. The budget cap proposed by the FIA gave them the framework and impetus to turn that plan into a reality.
Meta Image is a Spanish sports company that manage competitors, sponsors and event organisers. They are looking to get involved in F1 to spread their brand and have secured naming rights as part of their deal with Campos.
However, the backbone of the Campos Meta F1 team is Italian constructor Dallara who will actually be making the cars.
Dallara is a company with a huge amount of racing experience. They have utterly dominated Formula Three around the world for the last 15 years and their designs have revolutionised the category. They have been undefeated in the Italian F3 series since 1985 and have won every Macau Grand Prix since 1993.
Dallara has also tasted success in the USA where the company provides chassis for all the IRL teams, an arrangement that came about after their success pushed Panoz and G-Force out of the market.
The Italian constructor also supplies chassis for the GP2, GP3, and World Series by Renault championships, meaning that almost every driver in Formula One will have driven a Dallara at some point in their career.
However, the company has a less successful history in Formula One.
Campos Meta will be hoping to fare better than Scuderia Italia who teamed up with Dallara twenty years ago.
Scuderia Italia was originally called Brixia Motor Sport (BMS) and was formed in 1983 to race in the Italian Rally Championship. The team boss was Giuseppe Lucchini and he had been involved with other Italian motorsport organisations before deciding to start his own.
BMS spent five years in the Italian Rally Championship racing Alfa Romeos and Lancias. During the last of those years, BMS also competed in the World Touring Car Championship. When Alfa decided to withdraw their factory support in 1987, Lucchini decided it was an opportunity for his team to pursue a new challenge.
BMS renamed itself to BMS Scuderia Italia and hired Dallara to build a Formula One chassis.
In 1988 Dallara was well established in Formula Three and had briefly taken part in Formula 3000. When they were contracted by BMS to build an F1 car they increased their staffing levels and produced one car for the team’s only driver, Alex Caffi.
Results were not easy to come by when Scuderia Italia debuted in 1988. Caffi didn’t qualify for two of the first five races and failed to finish the other three. Once the team found its feet the retirements became less frequent and Caffi found some consistency, but the team remained scoreless during its first year.
Interestingly, one of the drivers that Alex Caffi raced against at the back of the grid that year was Adrian Campos.
In 1989 Dallara hired a new designer and Scuderia Italia signed the experienced Andrea De Cesaris. The result was a notable improvement and the car became a midfield runner. Although the team only scored points in two races, the drivers regularly finished inside the top ten. Both cars qualified strongly at Monaco and Caffi finished the race fourth, whilst De Cesaris went one better in Canada and reached the podium. Although Scuderia Italia was always helped by attrition they finished the season eighth in the constructors championship ahead of teams like Brabham, Minardi and Ligier.
Sadly, the success did not continue in 1990. Dallara simply built an updated version of their car rather than a new one and this meant they fell backwards. The team’s best finish was tenth but the car was usually near the back of the field or on the back of a truck. It was horridly unreliable and the drivers registered 23 retirements from 16 races.
To climb back into the midfield Scuderia Italia made some big changes for 1991. Another new designer was hired by Dallara and a new engine was commissioned from Judd. The team recovered much of its 1989 form and finished eighth in the constructors championship again, the highlight being third place at the San Marino Grand Prix.
The fundamentals were in place for a semi-competitive Formula One team, but Scuderia Italia’s management made a decision that brought about their downfall.
They dropped the Judd engines in favour of Ferrari power.
The 1992 car was an absolute lemon and there was public animosity between Dallara and Ferrari who blamed each other for the poor showing. Scuderia Italia was caught in the middle of the conflict and eventually sided with Ferrari. The partnership with Dallara was terminated but this proved to be a bad choice because team fared much worse when Lola designed their car the following year.
Within twelve months Giuseppe Lucchini’s team was failing to qualify for races and was eventually taken over by Minardi.