Fondmetal was one of those teams in the early 90s that tried their luck in the Formula One. The team appeared on the grid in 1991 and 1992. Like ATS and later RIAL also Fondmetal was an alloy wheels manufacturer. Gabriele Rumi was the person behind Fondmetal and in 1990 he had the idea to enter the F1 with it’s own team. There is no better way to promote yourself isn’t it? Everything would change during the 1992 season.
The second season didn’t start well for the Italian Team. Their new successor the GR01 wasn’t that good. While the successor for that, the GR02, only appeared on the grid during the Canadian Grand Prix, the results were poor. While Gabriele Tarquini managed to qualify the car for all races, Andrea Chiesa did not. He only managed to qualify for a couple of races. After the German Grand Prix Chiesa was replaced by Eric van de Poele.
What didn’t help the team either was the financial unsure times were lurking on the horizon. The 16th of September brought us Black Wednesday not long before and after several other red signs appeared. One of these red sign was the end for the Fondmetal Team. As the team was putting money in their project, though didn’t manage to get decent results, like in points. In Hungary the team came close, sadly van de Poele spun off on the third lap.
The hopes were fading away for Fondmetal’s 1992 survival. The team skipped the Portuguese Grand Prix. It is the 5th of October that the management gathered in Italy for a crisis meeting to discuss the team’s future. Eventually the call was made for the team that they would not go to the Japanese nor the Australian Grand Prix to finish the season.
Perhaps the saddest about this period is the fact, to keep the team alive, for the Portuguese Grand Prix Bruni hired Giuseppe Bugatti to race for the team. As he brought the needed money with him. I figured out that his name was also presented if the team would decide to race in Japan or Australia next to Tarquini.
While the team made the decision to call it a day and retire from the current season. There were already plans to make a re-entry in 1993 with the team. It would give them several months to find new sponsors, gain a stable financial base and have their focus on the new season to come. Gabriele Tarquini already signed a multiple-year deal with the Italians. Which would give him a drive in 1993 as well. Who the other driver could have been? Perhaps Bugatti for the first few races, replaced by van de Poele and Montermini? Who knows?
To go back to the car for 1993, Sergio Rinland started working on the design of the GR03 during the season. The team thought they would made it through the season and would be part of the grid in 1993. Sadly, the story went different as you could already read. While the team did not enter the last two races of the season, they kept their focus on 1993. The GR03 design was completed in early January 1993. At that point the team folded. Having designed the car Rinland decided to sell the design to Guido Forti.
In 1993, Forti was already looking to enter the Formula One. While it would take two more years before they appeared, the team used the design of the GR03 for their FG01. There are resemblances with the GR03 design if you look at Forti’s first F1 car.
Eventually Fondmetal would appear in 1994 as a technical partner for the Tyrrell team. In 1996 he would be the technical partner for that other Italian team Minardi. Eventually he became a co-owner of the Minardi team in 2000. The Fondmetal V10 engines powered the M02. Those engines were rebadged Ford Zetec-R’s.