Gregor Foitek

The forgotten F1 driver Gregor Foitek

Forgotten F1 drivers

There were decades in the Fomula One that there were more teams and drivers than places on the grid. Forty entrants for a Grand Prix was no exception, it was the reality in the 1980s and 1990s. While we all known the ill-fated teams as Pacific, Coloni, Osella, EuroBrun, Zakspeed and so on. There is a huge group of forgotten Formula One drivers who tried their luck for a few seasons, or just for a couple races. It’s time to bring these forgotten drivers back to the surface. This is Part One of the Forgotten F1 driver Gregor Foitek.

Gregor Foitek, born on the 27th of March 1965 in Zürich
I believe many of you have heard of the Swiss Gregor Foitek who happened to race a couple of races in 1989 and 1990. The Swiss driver won the Swiss Formula Three championship in 1986. The races were not held in Switzerland, as the country had a ban on auto and motorsports. It was a so-called level two championship. Held in neighbouring countries. That same year he is active in several Formula 3 championships in the German championship he even scores another win.

For 1987 and 1988, Gregor continued race in the International Formula 3000 series. Which showed some decent results. However, his career will always be overshadowed for his involvement in the Formula 3000 crash in 1988 that left Johnny Herbert badly injured. He was too wild in many their opinion. Still he had the speed in him and it seems it was good enough to debut in the Formula One.

For 1989, he had a deal with the EuroBrun team from Walter Brun. It seems included in the deal was a drive on the Porsche 962 at the 480 KM of Suzuka in 1989. He finished that race as 18th. It was an unlucky choice. He was forced to race with the EuroBrun ER188B and the ER189 powered by the Judd V8 engine.  He wasn’t able to Qualify the car at any race, actually besided the opening race of Brazil he was unable to pre-qualify. For the Spanish Grand Prix that year he took place behind the wheel of the Rial ARC2 powered by the Cosworth V8. He failed to qualify the car.

What many don’t know is that Gregor Foitek tested a couple of times in the Formula One. His first taste was on the 14th of December 1987 at Estoril. Where he took place behind the wheel of the Minardi – Motori-Moderni V6T M187. In 1989 he tested with the Arrows A11 at Silverstone, it is not sure if he was in the picture to become one of their drivers. He later tested also with the Brabham BT58, EuroBrun ER188B / ER189 and with the Moneytron.

For 1990, he signed a contract with the Brabham (Motor Racing Developments) team. Compared with the EuroBrun the Brabham BT58 was much better. For the American Grand Prix he qualified himself as 23th on the grid. While Stefano Modena his teammate qualified 13 places higher as 10th. He retired from the race due to an accident. In Brazil, he qualified himself better though had to retire again. This time due to a malfunctioning transmission.

The next race at San Marino he took place behind the wheel of the Moneytron Onyx team. While he had to retire at San Marino, in Monaco he scored a decent 7th place! However, at that time Moneytron was not the team from 1989. The results became worse, and eventually Peter Monteverdi purchased Moneytron. As well, Karl Foitek purchased 25% of the shares. The Foiteks had to pay Goodyear still for the tyres in 1989; otherwise, the team would not get tyres to continue the season. In Mexico, he managed to finish as 15th. While in France and Great Britain, he failed to qualify the car. After the Hungarian Grand Prix the team folded.

Without a seat in the Formula One and no opportunities he moved in 1991 to the World Sportcar Championship. Where he would race with one of the Porsche 962CK6s from Porsche Kremer Racing his best result was an 8th place. He drove two races for the Repsol Brun Motorsport team. Though without success.

In 1992 the new team Andrea Moda was to debut in the Formula One. The shady Italian Team of shoe magnate Andrea Sassetti. While Alex Caffi and Enrico Bertaggia were the assigned drivers. Foitek was the first choice for Sassetti. Why Foitek did not become the driver for Andrea Moda is unclear.

For 1992, Gregor, eventually, signed a deal with A.J. Foyt Racing in the Indy Car World Series. He would race two races for the team. The race at Surfers Paradise and the Grand Prix of Long Beach he suffered mechanical issues, which resulted in a retirement in the both races. He was to race as well in the Indy 500 in 1992. However, he was withdraw from the race. Rumours said that Gregor became too scared of racing at high speed on ovals.

He was team principal for a team in the Ferrari Challenge in 1995. In 2002, he seemed to have driven in the European Ferrari Challenge himself. In 2007, Gregor and his brothers Reto and Frank purchased the family company after their father retired.  Their family company Foitek Automotive is situated in Altendorf and is specialised in Maserati’s and Ferrari’s.