On This Day In F1 - The Mastercard Lola Team Ran Its Car For The Last Time

On This Day In F1 - The Mastercard Lola Team Ran Its Car For The Last Time

A look back at what happened on 24 March in Formula 1 history

1991 Brazilian Grand Prix
After years of trying, Ayrton Senna finally managed to win his home race - albeit not without some difficulties and a dose of luck. Nigel Mansell was catching him rapidly in the closing stages before the gearbox on his Williams broke, and towards the end Riccardo Patrese was also reeling him in. Senna himself was nursing how own gearbox issues - by the closing laps he’d lost everything but sixth gear (not ideal given that Interlagos has quite a few slow corners). He just managed to hold on and win but the effort destroyed him - he had to be lifted from his car after the race and could barely stand on the podium.

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix
“Multi 21, Seb.” Yes, it was that race. After Fernando Alonso broke his wing on the opening lap, the race ended up being a scrap between the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. After the final stops it was Webber who was leading, at which point the drivers were given the order ‘Multi 21’ - meaning car two (Webber) to finish ahead of car one (Vettel). In other words, race over guys, just bring it home.

However, Vettel had other ideas. He fought with Webber (who was in an engine and fuel-saving mode) with the two almost colliding on the pit straight. Despite the protestation of the team, Vettel continued attacking. He eventually made it by and carried on to victory with a furious Webber second. Vettel later claimed that it was a little bit of payback for a few occasions in the past where Webber himself had ignored team orders.

The atmosphere after the race was properly awkward. (c) Red Bull Content Pool
The atmosphere after the race was properly awkward. (c) Red Bull Content Pool

Team orders also played a part in who came third. In the closing stages, Nico Rosberg was much faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton but was told not to attack. Unlike Vettel, Rosberg begrudgingly obeyed the call and stayed behind as Hamilton claimed his first podium for Mercedes.

News
Widely regarded as one of the worst teams in history, the Mastercard Lola team had failed to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix by quite a margin. The problem was that Lola had initially wanted to debut in 1998 and spend a year preparing properly, but the sponsors demanded the team race in 1997. The result was that the car had to be hurriedly built and was developed from a couple of test cars that Lola had built earlier in the decade. The T97/30 ended up being outdated, underdeveloped and completely untested - in Australia it turned out the car produced way too much drag, making it slow on the straights, but also produced very little downforce, making it slow in the corners and difficult to drive.

For all of its many issues, at least the car had a great livery. (c) Mathijs Diepraam/Creative Commons
For all of its many issues, at least the car had a great livery. (c) Mathijs Diepraam/Creative Commons

In between Australia and the next race in Brazil the team attempted to make some improvements during a test session at Silverstone. To some extent, they seem to have worked. At the end of the day, Vincenzo Sospiri was only 9.5 seconds off the pace, compared to the 11.6 seconds it was in Australia - still not enough to get within the 107 per cent barrier, but any improvement is a good sign, right?

The team packed up and headed to Brazil but most of the sponsors, dismayed by the dismal showing in Australia, withdrew their backing. On the Wednesday before the race the team announced it was pulling out of the weekend and then went into administration soon after.

Birthdays
Eugene Martin (born 1915) raced Talbot in two races in 1950 - at Silverstone for the first GP and later in the Swiss GP, though he failed to finish either.

Brian Naylor (born 1923) started five race between 1959 and 1961 where he attempted to race his own car, which was based on a Cooper and called the JBW. However, he finished just one race - 13th at the 1960 British GP - and the car was wildly uncompetitive. Naylor ended the project at the end of 1961 and retired from racing altogether.

Top image (c) pher38/Creative Commons