CONSTRUCTORS: OSELLA SQUADRA CORSE
Name: Osella Squadra Corse
Vincenzo Osella - known to everyone as Enzo - raced sportscars for Abarth in the mid-1960s and by the end of the decade was running the Abarth-Osella team, which became, in effect, the Abarth factory team. When Carlo Abarth sold his business to FIAT, Osella took over the sporting operations and established his own team at Volpiano, near Turin.
Despite many wins in races and hillclimbs with his own version of the Abarth 2000 sportscar - notably with Arturo Merzario in the 1972 European 2-liter Championship of Makes - the sportscar business offered a limited market to Osella and when he switched from Abarth engines to BMWs he looked to single seaters to expand into Formula 2. Designer Antonio Tomaini produced the FA2 in 1974 and this was raced in F2 races by Giorgio Francia. The following year he ran FA2s for Francia and Doilio Truffi and between them they scored a total of 26 points, the best result being Francia's fourth place at Estoril. In 1976 there were four cars entered in the European F2 series but only Frenchman Francois Migault scored a point. The Formula 3 FA3 was little better in the hands of privateers Jean-Jacques Witz and Marcello Rosei. The same year the team ran a PA4 in sportscar racing for a string of little-known Italian drivers although the strengthening BMW connection brought Dieter Quester at some races. The company finished third in the sportscar series that year and won the Targa Florio thanks to drivers "Amphicar" and Armando Floridia.
In 1977 the team finished second in the world sportscar series with the PA5 driven by Francia, Lella Lombardi and "Pal Joey" (Gianfranco Palazzoli - who later become Osella team manager). The Formula 3 project faltered although Osella did run a young Teo Fabi in one race that year.
In 1978 sportscar racing became much more competitive with a change of regulations and towards the end of the year designer Giorgio Stirano redesigned the old FA2 and produced a new F2 car for the 1979 season. This was sponsored by Beta and raced with success by Eddie Cheever, the American winning three times and finishing fourth in the European Championship. That year the team ran a BMW M1 in the Procar series for drivers Bruno Giacomelli, Eddie Cheever and Elio de Angelis and also won races in the poorly-subscribed World Championship of Makes with the PA7 winning at Enna (Francia and Enrico Grimaldi) and Vallelunga (Francia and Lombardi). The PA8 followed in 1980 and Francia and Roberto Marazzi won the Vallelunga Six Hours and in 1981 Francia and Lombardi shared a PA9 to victory in the Mugello Six Hours.
For the 1980 season Osella planned his own Formula 1 team and he found backing for the idea from Denim aftershave and the Italian national cigarette company MS. Palazzoli managed the team with Cheever as the driver. The FA1A was designed by Stirano around a DFV engine. The car was not very competitive and was superseded by the FA1B, designed by Giorgio Valentini. This appeared at the Italian GP.
Although Denim backing was retained for the 1981 season, Cheever moved on and Osella hired pay-drivers Beppe Gabbiani and Miguel-Angel Guerra. Guerra put himself into hospital with leg injuries after a nasty crash in the San Marino GP after failing to qualify for the three races prior to Imola. Gabbiani raced only three times that year. After Guerra's accident Piercarlo Ghinzani and then Francia took over briefly before the team hired Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jarier. He qualified regularly.
Valentini's FA1C was introduced at the Italian GP that year and it was developed in 1982 when the team landed backing from Saima and Pioneer (thanks to new signing Riccardo Paletti. Jarier finished fourth at Imola (which most of the F1 teams boycotted) but disaster struck in Canada where Paletti was killed when he ran into the back of Didier Pironi's stalled Ferrari at the start of the race. The team ran a single car for the rest of the year. The FA1D was raced that year as well and was run in 1983 for Corrado Fabi and Piercarlo Ghinzani with backing from Kelemata.
The link with Alfa Romeo expanded in 1984 with the factory supplying Osella with its turbocharged V8 engines and giving the team an old 183T chassis as a guide for new designer Giuseppe Petrotta. Ghinzani began the year with the FA1F but it was torn in two in an enormous fiery crash in South Africa. Fortunately Ghinzani was not seriously hurt and Osella's first composite chassis was nearing completion at aerospace company CMA in Novara. This second FA1F was lighter and more competitive than the Alfa Romeo chassis and Ghinzani and new driver Jo Gartner, who joined the team mid-season with Milde Sorte sponsorship, were both able to score points.
The 1985 FA1G was much the same and was raced in Kelemata colors by Ghinzani and Dutch pay-driver Huub Rothengatter. The results were not impressive but lack of money meant that the same basic car reappeared again in 1986 in the hands of Ghinzani and Christian Danner. The German was later replaced by Canadian Allen Berg, who brought backing from Landis & Gyr.
The 1987 was a further revamp for the frustrated Petrotta and was raced by Alex Caffi and others with little effect. The 1988 season was a similar story with the FA1L - revamped by Ignazio Lunetta - in the hands of Nicola Larini.
With the new F1 regulations in 1989 the team had to change the car and in an effort to stay in business Osella offered shares to Fondmetal wheel magnate Gabriele Rumi. He funded a two-car team of Tomaini-designed DFV-engined cars for Ghinzani and Larini but they were not reliable and were forced into pre-qualifying for 1990. Osella dropped to one car for Frenchman Olivier Grouillard. At the end of the year Rumi took over the team, renaming it Fondmetal F1.
Osella went on building sportscars for the Italian national scene, winning titles with Francia and Fabio Mancini in the early 1990s.