MasterCard Lola used to have their own profile page on F1 Rejects’ website, but that has obviously disappeared now, so the original profile appears below (thanks to a web archive site). Thanks to Enoch Law for writing the original article. And I am honoured that one of his next tasks for the website was to re-write it based on the information provided below (when it was originally just the Autosport articles).
Last update in December with F1 Racing articles, Australian Grand Prix programme text, and some additional photos/images added.
A British weekly publication that has been running continuously since 1950.
A British monthly publication that has been running from 1923 to date.
A British magazine that ran from 1992 until about 2001. Dropped away soon after the death of its editor, Derek Wright. Published every 2-3 weeks from February to November, with one issue between each race during the season, running to 20/21 issues per year.
A British monthly F1 features magazine, published from March 1996 to date by Haymarket Publishing (just like Autosport), but then moved from Haymarket to Motorsport.com publishers during 2016.
The 1997 Australian Grand Prix race programme, (spoilers!) the only race to which the team actually turned up and competed in.
Also email contact with Allan McNish adds to the detail below.
Info on Stewart was found at Donington Park race track's museum in August 2015 (see entry listed under 10th December 1996)..
Extra photos can be found at the Mastercard Lola F1 Racing Team Facebook page.
HERE BEGINS THE ARTICLES!!!
F1 News, 25th August 1992
The story really starts with Scuderia Italia taking on Lola chassis, as it was this relationship that provides the impetus for Lola to enter the sport with their own race team. Eric Broadley always appeared to be the eternal optimist, didn’t he!
F1 News, 22nd September 1992
Keith Wiggins had ideas of entering the sport in 1993, but this somehow ended up being postponed by a year, to 1994. The reason for the inclusion of Keith Wiggins into this story will become apparent later. I wonder what the story behind the entry being postponed was?
And who knew Damon Hill could have ended up at a 1993 Pacific team? Could have changed his entire career path!
F1 News, 20th October 1992
In anticipation of Pacific entering the sport in 1993, F1 News ran an article on Keith Wiggins, the “New Kid on the Block”. F1 News for me was the prototype F1 Rejects, as not only did they profile Keith Wiggins before his team entered the sport, but they also put Roland Ratzenberger on the front cover of their magazine in March 1994!
F1 News, 23rd February 1993
Each year, F1 News ran a feature in their season preview entitled, “The Teams, The Cars, The Men.” It followed the same format each year. This is what they had to say for the BMS Scuderia Italia Lola entry. If only they knew… Expectations were clearly running higher than the team managed on the timesheets.
F1 News, 6th July 1993
Mid-season 1993, and the parody cartoons are already running. This cartoon could of course have equally applied to 1997, if only (SPOILER!!!) the team made it as far as the British GP…
Autosport, 16th September 1993
Lola reckon that they could have run their 1993 chassis better than Scuderia Italia did, and that they are looking to enter their own team as early as the following year, 1994!
F1 News, 21st September 1993
Essentially the same news story as in the last Autosport clipping also featured in this issue of F1 News magazine.
Just slipping a photo with caption in to demonstrate that the Scuderia Italia Lola was not totally hopeless and useless… This was at the 1993 Italian Grand Prix. The one where Fittipaldi became ’Flip-ipaldi’ across the finish line!
Autosport, 14th October 1993
Autosport publish an entry list for 1994. Simtek, Pacific, Forti and Lola are all on the list. Of course, they do all make it into the sport, but not all necessarily in 1994… This is somewhat acknowledged near the top of the third paragraph of the article. All four of those teams in the same race would have been EPIC!
F1 News, 2nd November 1993
Keith Wiggins (as stated earlier, more on why he features later) launching his Pacific PR01 for 1994. At least he seemed to attempt to balance the books first…
Autosport, 11th November 1993
The deadline for paying the entry fee for 1994 is close, and Simtek and Pacific are mentioned in regards to this, but where are Lola and Forti?
Autosport, 25th November 1993
Lola announce that they are now looking to enter in 1995, rather than 1994…
Autosport, 21st July 1994
Lola’s attempt to enter F1 for 1995 is boosted by recruiting a new Head of Marketing: Brett Trafford. Hope it’s a good move – you’ll need a good marketing guy…
F1 News, 10th August 1994
F1 News were slightly slower on the news than Autosport, but report it nonetheless. (Sorry about the scan quality – it’s hard to scan near the centre crease when the magazine is in a binder, and it’s not always easy to remove the magazine from the binder for each and every scan. It is honestly easier to type it out manually in this case.) And I didn’t get the pun of the short news story section until later in life!
F1 News, 10th August 1994 wrote:LOLA F1 COMEBACK
Lola, planning to re-enter the World Championship next year, have appointed Brett Trafford as Head of Marketing of their Formula One team.
Trafford was Marketing Director of Benetton Formula from 1989-91 and has also worked with the Sasol Jordan team.
He said: "This is a very good opportunity for me, but it won't be easy as the economic situation around the world is still very difficult. However, Lola is a well-respected company, on the verge of change, and I am pleased to be part of it."
Autosport, 15th September 1994
The new Lola is due to test in November. How long did that take? A year? And how competitive was it?
F1 News, 5th October 1994
May this be a clue as to why (SPOILER!!!) Keith Wiggins later gets employed by Lola? Although Brett Trafford is Head of Marketing at Lola…
F1 News, 23rd November 1994
Even at this stage, Lola still seem to be pushing on with their 1995 plans to enter F1. (Of course, Allan McNish does go on to test Lola’s T95/30 around this time). (See email below.)
Autosport, 8th December 1994
A further delay in entry until 1996…
Autosport, 5th January 1995
Allan McNish is signed as the test driver of the Lola T95/30, the car being a 1995 test bed, preparing for a 1996 entry. It is described as ‘pretty good’!
Email received from Allan McNish on Tuesday 4th August 2015
Allan McNish was contacted via his website for more information about testing the Lola T95/30, and this was his response:
Allan McNish wrote:I only agreed to do the initial test because a friend, Mike Blanchet ran Lola (sales side), I had no other contact with any Lola F1 programme and was contracted to Porsche when they entered F1.
I don't think the car ever ran again after that.
Sorry, can't help much as I was not really involved.
Autosport, 2nd February 1995
South African Stephen Watson is negotiating for a 1995 test drive at Lola, and will compete in F3000 in the same year. Alongside Ricardo Rosset, Vincenzo Sospiri and Allan McNish. One of the four is an F3000 reject. Guess who? Find out below!
F1 News, 23rd August 1995
F1 News had not forgotten about Lola during 1995, but it seems that very little news was coming out at that time about the project. In over 20 issues during 1995, this is all that F1 News printed about the project all year. This adds credence to McNish's assertion that the car likely only ran once.
F1 News, 20th September 1995
F1 News ran a couple of short articles on news in other motorsport categories, so I thought it might be relevant to this story that Ricardo Rosset and Vincenzo Sospiri were teammates previously in F3000. And they proved to be the top two in the championship, unlike in F1 (bottom two)! And isn’t it ironic that they were dominant in Reynards, together beating their rivals, Lola?! Lolas just were not as fast as their future employees could have been…
F1 News, 25th October 1995
The final summary of the last two rounds of the 1995 F3000 championship.
F1 News, 8th November 1995
Vincenzo Sospiri goes out to Japan to seek a seat for the 1996 F1 season.
F1 News, 22nd November 1995
An advertisement is run to publicise Sospiri’s F3000 success. In a Reynard, beating those pesky Lolas!
Autosport, 23rd November 1995
A joint project between Pacific, Indycar, and Lola has not taken off. I guess this is where the relationship between Keith Wiggins and Lola starts… Plus Pacific started building the PR03 for the 1996 season, while Lola now is not entering 1996, and is now looking towards 1997 for an entry.
As an aside, neither F1 News nor Autosport reported on how the Lola T95/30 tested, nor how frequently. But one assumes that it was always driven by Allan McNish and never by Stephen Watson? As another aside, I kept initially reading the South African’s name as Steve Warson, friend and teammate to Michel Vaillant, rather than as Stephen Watson… EDIT (4th August 2015): Allan McNish's email correspondence above suggests that neither he nor Watson ever drove the car in 1995.
In the same Autosport magazine, there is a review of the 1995 FIA International F3000 championship. Vincenzo Sospiri won the title, as we have seen above, with Ricardo Rosset 2nd. Allan McNish came a distant 7th, but Watson scored zero in his debut season in the category. In his second season, he remained on zero points. He even continued in the series into a third season, in 1997, where he scores as many as 2 points, thereby retaining reject status!
Anyway, guess Autosport rates as the best three F3000 drivers of the 1995 season? It is only those three who end up driving F1-spec Lolas for the team between 1994 and 1997!
Autosport, 25th January 1996
Keith Wiggins, formerly of Pacific GP (whose F1 team went into liquidation), is to be Lola F1’s managing director! THIS explains the inclusion of a bit of background on Keith Wiggins running his own team further up above. Oh, and Lola’s expected entry into F1 is now postponed further, to 1997…
F1 News, 7th February 1996
This is where some parts of the Lola story are repeated in both magazines, but there are also differences during 1996 and 1997 too! But this is one that is repeated from the last Autosport clipping.
Autosport, 22nd February 1996
Lola have to deny showing favouritism to their new managing director’s F3000 team!
F1 Racing, March 1996
A quick guide to the new-for-1996 107% rule, in the days when Hill was at Williams, there was only one Schumi and he drove for Benetton, and Forti were in the sport…
F1 Racing, April 1996
Bridgestone announce their plans to enter F1, but in 1998! Bridgestone had such a limited previous presence in the sport at this point, look at the photo they used!
F1 News, 17th April 1996
Wiggins and Lola are pushing on with their plans to enter Lola into F1 for 1997, but it is dependent on one thing – funding! Wonder where the funding could come from? And they need it by… July?!
F1 Racing, May 1996
Dome are looking to enter F1 in 1997. They, at this point, are using Goodyear tyres, but one would expect them to enter with fellow Japanese company Bridgestone, wouldn’t one? Namely, for Dome to postpone until 1998 to enter with Bridgestone? Or to encourage them to join a year earlier?
F1 News, 27th May 1996
Chris Murphy moves from having previously been chief designer at Lotus in 1994 to chief designer at Lola. Well, I wonder what he went on to achieve afterwards, after having those two cars on his CV? Oh, and I don’t think I saw a reference to this in a February issue of F1 News, otherwise I would have scanned it…
Also, RE-joins? Yes, he was also previously involved in Larrousse's Lola chassis!
F1 Racing, June 1996
So Bridgestone are looking to join in 1997 after all? But because they have no teams to test with? What about Dome? But in hindsight, they were right about Michelin not being far behind. Just a shame about Goodyear’s future in the category…
And here is a brief interview from the same issue from a driver who had contracts with Simtek, Pacific, Forti and Lola!
F1 News, 12th June 1996
Lola could have run with Reynolds Metals Co. engines had they managed to pull this deal off. Can’t say I remember this story running at the time? But this adds to the intrigue of the team.
F1 Racing, July 1997
Bridgestone are now testing their tyres in a Japanese-powered car on their own Japanese test-track!
There is also a three-page article on the tyre competition situation as seen at the time.
F1 News, 24th July 1996
An earlier story suggested that a decision on a 1997 entry would have to be made by July. Well, that time has come, and F1 News seems to think that that is now unlikely, due to the lack of news coming from the Lola team. (Again, sorry for the scan quality, but I hope you can make it out!)
F1 Racing, August 1996
Arrows tie their mast to Bridgestone tyres. It is looking serious for Bridgestone now for 1997 – teams, testing, etc.
But Lola have not yet committed convincingly enough for F1 Racing to predict their engine supply for the 1998 season yet. It’s only 18 months after the publication of this issue of F1 Racing… And no mention here of Richmond Metals Co. of Richmond, Virginia or Al Melling suppling engines.
F1 News, 7th August 1996
A discussion about Lola’s possible engine supply. Again Reynolds Metals Co. of Richmond, Virginia is mentioned as a possibility. But there is as yet no mention of Al Melling’s MCD concern. And, following on from the last article, a 1997 entry at this point is looking less likely.
Autosport, 8th August 1996
A decision will be made in August 1996 whether to enter F1 or not in 1997 (it is now August!)… And Keith Wiggins is no longer managing director?
F1 News, 21st August 1996
The first mention of Al Melling and his MCD concern. Although they also bring Alan Randall into the equation, with the two forming a company called Ramel. (And again, I don’t seem to recall it being mentioned in a previous issue, and I would have been looking out for a reference to this. Unless it was in the middle of a 2-3 page article about other stuff?)
Autosport, 22nd August 1996
Following on from the last Autosport clipping: Ah-ha, THIS is what happened to Pacific’s Keith Wiggins!
F1 Racing, September 1996
An interview with Paul Stewart, bringing Stewart GP into F1 in 1997. It is clear from this that Lola’s customer Ford engine was never going to be on a par with Stewart.
F1 News, 4th September 1996
Three stories in brief all in one go (texts with red backgrounds like this were a single-column of text entitled “Chinese Whispers”, giving news in single sentences that were what may be called factoids): Keith Wiggins has left Lola with a decision over its 1997 entry STILL to be made (despite the July deadline long gone), Lola’s Chris Murphy sues and wins against Lotus’s David Hunt over £33,000, and Reynolds Metals Co. of Richmond, Virginia is now no longer going to make engines after failing to make an agreement with any team. I wonder which other teams they had been in discussion with?
Autosport, 5th September 1996
Oh dear. Lola are having to stretch their deadline for entering F1 in 1997… It really is stretching it, considering their initial deadline!
Autosport, 12th September 1996
Engine news! Lola are to commission an engine from Al Melling, of MCD Consultants.
Plus Mike Blanchet is to leave as managing director…
Autosport, 26th September 1996
STEFAN GRAND PRIX!!! They had interest in entering F1 BEFORE buying assets from Lola’s F1 attempt, for the 1997 season! And, of course, at this point, he’s Yugoslavian, not Serbian as he is now, due to the break-up of the former Yugoslav states. (Sadly, F1 News does not seem to give crazy Zoran Stefanovic any publicity whatsoever!)
F1 Racing, October 1996
Could Lola have ended up with a more competitive engine if this meeting had gone differently? And is this the first mention of current rising star, Mick Schumacher, in the pages of F1 Racing?
Despite missing a significant number of races, Forti have not yet given up the fight to remain in F1!
F1 News, 2nd October 1996
With Reynolds Metals Co. now no longer to supply engines to Lola, and with Lola at this point without any engine deal, this article seems timely, discussing a possible shortage of engine supply within F1. Also note how this article mentions how F1 engines are expensive and time-consuming to build. Lola at this point of the story have not got the money lined up and are rapidly running out of time! (And just as F1 News makes no reference to Zoran Stefanovic, Autosport does not ever seem to have mentioned Reynolds Metals Co. of Richmond, Virginia in relation to MasterCard Lola, or to anybody else for that matter.)
Autosport, 10th October 1996
Some further details on their engine deal with Al Melling. The amount of money to be invested in the engine is interesting when compared to the major engine manufacturers, and when compared to engine contracts of 2010-2013…
F1 News, 23rd October 1996
Coverage of Lola confirming their own engine supply with Al Melling’s MCD concern, a V10 with a 5-year plan. Apparently, there is yet another Pacific connection here, where Al Melling was going to combine with Neil Brown to build an engine for Pacific.
Autosport, 24th October 1996
Lola and Stefan GP to give more info about their entries into F1 in the next fortnight. And Zoran Stefanovich is now Czech?! The Czech Republic is CLEARLY not formerly Yugoslavia… AND he has an H on the end of his surname?!?!?!
Autosport, 31st October 1996
Lola to use Fords in 1997, with Al Melling’s engines to be used from 1998. Plus driver news – Riccardo Rosset, and Tom Kristensen? Allan McNish is at least understandable in context of having tested the earlier Lola chassis…
F1 Racing, November 1996
Stewart now have announced their driver line-up for their debut season.
F1 News, 6th November 1996
F1 News seem more unsure that Lola is definitely entering, referring to the news still as rumours, still believing a late decision as ‘unlikely’. They confirm Chris Murphy as now having been there 6 months, and that Keith Wiggins left in the September of 1996.
Autosport, 7th November 1996
Lola’s entry into the 1997 F1 season is given Top Story billing.
Autosport, 14th November 1996
A retrospective of Lola in F1.
Autosport, 14th November 1996
Lola’s V10 to be ready for mid-1997! Not 1998 as previously reported! Hurrah!
F1 News, 20th November 1996
I was not an Autosport reader for much of the 1990s, so this is the first I knew that the MasterCard Lola project was going ahead. This was also the first time I knew that MasterCard were involved (although it was confirmed slightly earlier in an Autosport top story). My dad had a MasterCard at the time (of course I am not going to tell you whether he still does or not!), and I was asking if we could be involved, but I don’t think he ever heard anything from them.
Autosport, 21st November 1996
A letter to Autosport shows that there is someone who does not believe in Lola. What sad foresight...
F1 Racing, December 1996
Bridgestone are now testing wet-weather tyres, and tests being carried out by Ricardo Rosset and Damon Hill.
Another team to use Bridgestone tyres.
And Lola finally get their first mentions in the magazine! After all, the magazine will be sponsoring the team…
MotorSport magazine, December 1996
This magazine ran a Lola feature in their December 1996 issue. I obtained a copy in late November 2018 to scan these articles, but on the magazine's website, they have archived the whole back catalogue from 1923 to 2013! So here are the links to the articles of interest:
What Lola Wants, Lola Has Had To Hold On For
Lola's Formula One Heritage, first page
Lola's Formula One Heritage, second page
A Honda in Lola's clothing
How was Ricardo Rosset able to go four WHOLE seconds quicker in this Bridgestone test than in qualifying at a race meeting? Was he making repeated mistakes in qually? Were the weather conditions different? Was the track more rubbered in? Was he in a different, better chassis? Was the engine mapping different? Were the tyres just that much better?
Some other teams announce their engine deals at a late date (11th November 1996). I cannot remember if it was normal practice then to announce engine deals for the following season so late? Was it to avoid promoting a different engine brand while continuing with their current engine partner during the contemporary season?
This (below) is a useful chronological timeline of Lola's history in Formula 1 in the run-up to their works entry.
It seems odd now, looking back at the works entry that carries Lola's name, that Lola actually has a race win under another entry's name!
Autosport, 5th December 1996
Norberto Fontana’s name has now also been linked to drive alongside Riccardo Rosset.
In the same issue, Autosport list the full entry list as known at that point for 1997.
Information sign at Donington Park, relating to 10th December 1996
Stewart-Ford launch their 1997 challenger, but only confirm their sponsorship package that morning. But their challenger exists, and able to go testing already, in the days of unlimited testing (or at least limited by time and money, not legislation and rulebooks). This was taken at Donington Park, in the museum at the race track, in August 2015, during FE public testing.
Autosport, 12th December 1996
The T97/30 nears completion. Tom Kristensen is no longer in the running, but Rosset and Fontana remain so…
Autosport, Christmas edition 1996 (12th, 19th December 1996)
Lola sign up Riccardo Rosset, and not Kristensen, not Fontana, not McNish, but Vincenzo Sospiri to drive for them in 1997!
Autosport, 2nd January 1997
Confirmation of Lola’s driver signings.
Also in the same issue was a brief season preview of the teams. Here is Lola’s entry.
F1 Racing, January 1997
More Bridgestone tyre testing news.
Here is a timeline of the set-up of the Stewart GP team for comparison against Lola.
Autosport, 16th January 1997
Vincenzo Sospiri gets a seat fitting (sitting inside the tub of the T97/30), and is expected to get a tyre contract around 2 months before the season starts!
Autosport, 23rd January 1997
Lola is not yet a signatory to the Concorde agreement, but they and Stewart (the other new entry confirmed for 1997) are to be allowed to sign it at a later date during the season.
And, as referenced in the above article, the News in Brief article.
Autosport, 30th January 1997
Lola is only thought to have a deal with Bridgestone, a month-and-a-half at best before the season starts…
F1 Racing, February 1997
F1 Racing, as a sponsor of the MasterCard Lola team, carried a ‘news’ story of the team having a stand at the Autosport Show with what would have been a T95/30 showcar.
This issue announces Lola’s 1997 driver line-up.
The livery used at the Autosport Show carried over into the advertising that MasterCard Lola were using to promote the team, particularly in the pages of co-sponsor, F1 Racing (this advertisement for the team featured in the February, March, and April 1997 editions of the F1 Racing magazine):
Oh, and Stewart began testing their 1997 challenger around Christmas. Good for them.
F1 News, 5th February 1997
This would have been the magazine’s first issue since the previous November, so they provided a section outlining what each team entered for the 1997 team had been up to over the winter. This text box provided some names of people involved with the team at this stage: Ray Boulter, Alan Harrison, Dave Luckett and Stephen Taylor. Also mentioning that they have 15 Ford engines, to be rebuilt 5 times each over the course of the season.
In the same issue of F1 News was a winter testing update. Don’t forget that in those days, teams were free to test when and where they wanted (well, within Europe I think…).
Autosport, 6th February 1997
Expected completion date of the T97/30 is announced, plus speculation as to which car number will be applied to which driver. And the team manager at MasterCard Lola is now Ray Boulter.
Autosport, 13th February 1997
The date for the launch of Lola’s first in-house F1 team car, the T97/30, is finally announced!!!
F1 News, 19th February 1997
Remember that Bamber cartoon that appeared in F1 News in 1993 above? Well, by 1997, F1 News began having cartoons based in a local pub, The Fox and Fornicator. Here is one from the pre-season featuring MasterCard Lola as the butt of the joke.
This issue began the pre-season preview, and here is the magazine’s team-by-team preview for the two new teams for 1997, Stewart-Ford and Lola-Ford. (Autosport’s previews are below.)
In the same issue, apparently Keith Wiggins is looking to take Pacific back to F1 again.
Autosport, 27th February 1997
The team and the car are finally launched after several years of build-up to the event!
It looks like the left rear has a flat-spot on it? Is that just the photo and subsequent reproduction of the magazine, or was the car really launched on second-hand tyres?! And whose second-hand tyres are they? Arrows? Stewart? Prost? Minardi?
So, the big question is: what are MasterCard Lola’s longer-term plans at this point?
Realistic? Who knows?
F1 Racing, March 1997
I love the first line of this article of an interview with Eric Broadley: “No, I’m not going to tell you what our targets are for this year, because you’ll only come back and tell me I didn’t hit them.” Hmm. And thus the irony of the last quotation at the end! How they thought they could be better than Stewart who had a better Ford Cosworth and longer lead time into the season, I have no idea…
And F1 Racing looked into their “Kristal Baul” for their driver season preview:
F1 News, 5th March 1997
And here is F1 News’s coverage of the team’s launch event at the Park Lane Hilton in London.
Here is an interview from that event at the Park Lane Hilton that Adam Cooper had with Eric Broadley.
A paragraph on Lola’s prospects in the Grand Prix-view (Preview – geddit?!?!?) for the Melbourne race. Their paragraph came at the end of the article – saving the best ‘til last?
In the same 5th March issue, Bob Constanduros began a series of “Bob’s Burning Questions” – a paddock vox pop on a topical subject. In this issue, both Lola drivers were questioned on how they thought Bridgestone would perform. Naturally, they were going to be complimentary about one of the team’s suppliers in the lead-up to the first round, weren’t they?
Autosport, 6th March 1997
The Lola T97/30 has gearbox gremlins in their pre-season test. Plus they broke an engine in their Santa Pod test (as pictured above). Not a great start… (As an aside, I haven’t heard much of this Ray Boulter guy…)
And a fuller pre-season preview of the team’s prospects.
7th to 9th March 1997, the Australian Grand Prix! From the 1997 Australian Grand Prix race programme
Here, to start the weekend’s proceedings of Lola’s debut at the 1997 Australian Grand Prix is the team’s coverage in the race programme.
And here is the timetable for the weekend (again, from the above race programme):
And in case the print is too small to read on your viewing device (the F1 sessions are in red above):
Friday 7th March 1997
1100 – 1200 Formula One Practice Session
1300 – 1400 Formula One Practice Session
Saturday 8th March 1997
0900 – 0945 Formula One Practice Session
1015 – 1100 Formula One Practice Session
1300 – 1400 Formula One Qualifying Session
Sunday 9th March 1997
0930 – 1000 Formula One Warm Up
1120 – 1130 Formula One Drivers’ Parade
1400 – 1545 1997 Qantas Australian Grand Prix – 59 laps including warm-up
You can see that the practice sessions on the Friday and the Saturday are separated by small gaps, so in the results published post-race, the practice times from each day are often combined. I have been unable, as it happens, to not find the Saturday practice sessions listed separated anywhere, and I was only able to list the Friday practice times below separately thanks to midgrid's YouTube videos, so thanks has to go to him for that.
First Friday practice times according to midgrid's video:
It appears to be Pedro Diniz in the second TWR-Arrows that failed to set a lap time in this session.
Times for the second practice session on the Friday that midgrid's video calls FP2 and which formula1.com calls Practice 1:
Pos No Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 5 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:32.496 27
2 4 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams Renault 1:32.910 +0.414s 27
3 7 Jean Alesi Benetton Renault 1:33.255 +0.759s 27
4 3 Jacques Villeneuve Williams Renault 1:33.371 +0.875s 26
5 11 Ralf Schumacher Jordan Peugeot 1:33.437 +0.941s 28
6 6 Eddie Irvine Ferrari 1:34.157 +1.661s 21
7 8 Gerhard Berger Benetton Renault 1:34.271 +1.775s 17
8 10 David Coulthard McLaren Mercedes 1:34.432 +1.936s 21
9 16 Johnny Herbert Sauber Petronas 1:34.593 +2.097s 29
10 9 Mika Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes 1:34.742 +2.246s 19
11 12 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan Peugeot 1:34.777 +2.281s 27
12 14 Olivier Panis Prost Mugen Honda 1:34.927 +2.431s 16
13 1 Damon Hill Arrows Yamaha 1:35.073 +2.577s 26
14 19 Mika Salo Tyrrell Ford 1:36.142 +3.646s 30
15 17 Nicola Larini Sauber Petronas 1:36.223 +3.727s 21
16 21 Jarno Trulli Minardi Hart 1:36.392 +3.896s 16
17 18 Jos Verstappen Tyrrell Ford 1:36.716 +4.220s 24
18 23 Jan Magnussen Stewart Ford 1:37.023 +4.527s 14
19 2 Pedro Diniz Arrows Yamaha 1:38.092 +5.596s 9
20 15 Shinji Nakano Prost Mugen Honda 1:39.652 +7.156s 12
21 22 Rubens Barrichello Stewart Ford 1:40.002 +7.506s 6
22 20 Ukyo Katayama Minardi Hart 1:40.947 +8.451s 7
23 25 Ricardo Rosset Lola Ford 1:41.166 +8.670s 14
24 24 Vincenzo Sospiri Lola Ford 1:42.590 +10.094s 22
What formula1.com calls Practice 2, and are actually the combined Saturday morning practice times:
Pos No Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 3 Jacques Villeneuve Williams Renault 1:28.594 26
2 4 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Williams Renault 1:30.026 +1.432s 23
3 10 David Coulthard McLaren Mercedes 1:30.305 +1.711s 26
4 6 Eddie Irvine Ferrari 1:30.651 +2.057s 26
5 9 Mika Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes 1:30.674 +2.080s 23
6 5 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:30.682 +2.088s 30
7 11 Ralf Schumacher Jordan Peugeot 1:31.071 +2.477s 22
8 16 Johnny Herbert Sauber Petronas 1:31.197 +2.603s 30
9 17 Nicola Larini Sauber Petronas 1:31.281 +2.687s 21
10 14 Olivier Panis Prost Mugen Honda 1:31.303 +2.709s 26
11 8 Gerhard Berger Benetton Renault 1:31.389 +2.795s 21
12 7 Jean Alesi Benetton Renault 1:31.635 +3.041s 27
13 12 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan Peugeot 1:32.027 +3.433s 16
14 20 Ukyo Katayama Minardi Hart 1:32.264 +3.670s 24
15 22 Rubens Barrichello Stewart Ford 1:32.826 +4.232s 16
16 19 Mika Salo Tyrrell Ford 1:33.194 +4.600s 30
17 15 Shinji Nakano Prost Mugen Honda 1:33.415 +4.821s 27
18 21 Jarno Trulli Minardi Hart 1:33.588 +4.994s 29
19 18 Jos Verstappen Tyrrell Ford 1:33.679 +5.085s 30
20 2 Pedro Diniz Arrows Yamaha 1:33.693 +5.099s 18
21 23 Jan Magnussen Stewart Ford 1:33.767 +5.173s 21
22 1 Damon Hill Arrows Yamaha 1:34.640 +6.046s 9
23 25 Ricardo Rosset Lola Ford 1:41.416 +12.822s 5
24 24 Vincenzo Sospiri Lola Ford 1:44.286 +15.692s 8
Autosport, 13th March 1997
So, how did the team fare on their debut? Let’s find out! (As if we did not already know!)
Surely something like this was no laughing matter? Apparently, it was.
The team’s revised prospects for the first few races of the year. At least Eric Broadley is being a bit more realistic than he has been previously…
F1 News, 19th March 1997
On the F1 Rejects podcasts, Jamie and Enoch have previously stated that at the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne, it was often hard to find Reject merchandise. But look! Someone is wearing a Lola hat! Lola had merchandise available at the 1997 Australian GP! Why can’t other reject teams do this?!?!? Lucky son of a biscuit…
Lola features briefly in the race review (one line featured on the following page, so I reproduced the second paragraph in the quotation box below).
F1 News, 19th March 1997 wrote: It was an object lesson for anyone who thinks you can wander into F1 with dreams of glory. Even with facilities and people such as they have at Lola, making it in F1 is playing with the big boys.
F1 News’s post-race team-by-team, driver-by-driver review.
And the magazine’s resident ‘parodyist’, Eff One, takes a look at Lola briefly.
And they feature briefly in Eric Silbermann’s Prix-view to the Brazilian race!
Autosport, 20th March 1997
Lola manage to squeeze in another test of their car! Hurrah! But how do they do?
Autosport review how the Freshers/debutants in Australia performed. Here’s Sospiri’s summary.
Autosport, 27th March 1997
Eric Broadley remains optimistic for Brazil (oh, come off it Eric, you were much more realistic about a fortnight ago!), while Rosset seems a little more realistic…
F1 Racing, April 1997
F1 Racing’s results tables for the 1997 Australian Grand Prix. Interesting to note that F1 Racing sponsor a Bridgestone-tyred team, while carrying Goodyear sponsorship on their results pages… And Lola of course top the slowest-through-the-speed-trap table! (And I still rather like their pictorial of the grid – it gives an idea of the field spread, albeit without how far Lola were off the back of the grid!)
And TWR-Arrows’s Pedro Diniz becomes the first to circumnavigate the 107% rule. But Lola didn’t… This brief news article wonders why!
Autosport, 3rd April 1997
So, with Eric Broadley’s optimism, how did the team fare in Brazil?
Oh dear. So the engine that Al Melling was working on might need a new home then…
And naturally, all this made Autosport’s Top Story that week!
A reader writes in to express their insight into Mastercard’s sponsorship scheme… (My dad equally heard nothing from MasterCard to the best of my knowledge, despite not banking with HSBC, a sponsor of Stewart.)
And a journalist summarises the sorry account to date.
(This issue, 3rd April 1997, seems to be the copy to get for MasterCard Lola fans…)
F1 News, 9th April 1997
Lola have apparently had their credit card revoked! (What’s a credit car?)
The magazine’s editor, Derek Wright, gives his opinion on the Lola situation in his editorial.
You know our Caption This thread? F1 News ran something similar across a double-page spread regularly called, “Scene At.” The Brazilian GP issue ran a photo containing both Lola drivers talking to each other.
And another cartoon featuring the Fox and Fornicator pub.
Autosport, 10th April 1997
Eric Broadley is not ready to quit yet!
F1 News, 23rd April 1997
Although Lola want to return to F1 by Imola, F1 News reckons that this may not be possible.
From the San Marino Grand Prix-view:
Another of Bob Constanduros’s (he of F1 podium Chaaaaaaaammmmmmmaaaaaaaaaggggggnnnnnneeee fame) “Bob’s Burning Question” paddock vox pop articles. This time, it’s “What do you think of Lola’s situation?”
Autosport, 24th April 1997
Lola F1 faces liquidation, just as Keith Wiggins’s Pacific team did!
F1 Racing, May 1997
F1 Racing magazine seem quite sure and realistic as to Lola’s future at this point. There’s no holding back. (Don’t forget that towards the end of 1996, they carried a story of Forti talking of attempting to return to F1 after missing a number of races.)
And there is talk of Rosset jumping ship to replace an underperforming driver at another new-for-1997 team!(As well as an administrative change to the sport as a result of what happened to Lola, and presumably to Simtek, Pacific and Forti too over 1995 and 1996.)
Autosport, 1st May 1997
Lola not only faces liquidation, but goes into liquidation!
Autosport, 15th May 1997
Vincenzo Sospiri tried to save the team, but it wasn’t enough.
F1 News, 21st May 1997
MasterCard Lola has hit the wall, and may take the rest of Lola down with it. And there were only 28 members of staff at the team?!
Autosport, 22nd May 1997
Lola goes into administration.
F1 Racing, June 1997
An approximate break-down of Lola’s expenditure for their F1 entry. Presumably F1 Racing had access to figures, having been a sponsor of the team?
And there is a response to an earlier article on Eric Broadley in the May issue (above) on the magazine’s letters page:
(As an aside, I would have dared to have called Bernie an ‘old man’! Compared to a teenager, as I was at the time, a man beyond retirement age would have been an ‘old man’!)
F1 News, 4th June 1997
Lola into administration. Either Prodrive or a CART team may wish to buy Lola!
F1 News, 25th June 1997
The MasterCard sponsorship is to transfer over to Jordan, using the same crowdfunding initiative, but this time, not as title sponsor.
Autosport, 3rd July 1997
Lola’s former head of marketing, Brett Trafford, is looking to buy Lola Cars.
F1 News, 7th July 1997
No mention of Zoran Stefanovic, and a bit vague, but it’s Lola news, and it’s Vincenzo Sospiri news too.
Autosport, 10th July 1997
Zoran Stefanovic (now without the ‘h’ at the end of his surname, and is Yugoslavian again, rather than Czech…) is apparently buying equipment!
Autosport, 24th July 1997
Eric Broadley will not be buying Lola.
Autosport, 31st July 1997
Zoran Stefanovic, who is now apparently Croatian (!), has bought the remnants from Lola.
F1 Racing, August 1997
Wonder how this was financed? (The MasterCard bit…)
F1 News, 6th August 1997
A big list of names forming a consortium to buy Lola, not many of whom currently ring any bells in my head (apart from Ben Bowlby, he of DeltaWing fame).
Autosport, 14th August 1997
Eric Broadley may actually be in the running to buy a section of the Lola company after all.
Autosport, 21st August 1997
The management buyout of Lola, led by Eric Broadley, has hit difficulties.
Autosport, 11th September 1997
Yet another potential buyer for Lola has entered the ring, the Irish Martin Birrane. Could this be who we have been waiting for?
F1 News, 8th October 1997
Martin Birrane to buy Lola. Elsewhere on this forum, it has been pointed out that a T97/30 appears to be at Mondello Park. Presumably Birrane’s links to the racetrack is the link to explain that?
F1 Racing, November 1997
Al Melling, with his MCD firm, completed the work on the Lola engine anyway, and tried to find a home for it.
F1 News, 5th November 1997
Pacific finally closes down entirely (F3000 and sportscars) and employees are looking to find work at Lola, just as Keith Wiggins did and will do so.
Autosport, 27th November 1997
When discussing BAR entering the sport, Autosport look back at recent successful and not-so-successful recent entries into the sport, including Lola. Wonder how BAR worked out?
F1 Racing, December 1997
F1 Racing’s readers rated the drivers of 1997 in a poll:
And just in case you wondered which drivers could have been placed between the two Lola drivers?
As voted for by readers of F1 Racing:
19. Pedro Diniz
20. Vincenzo Sosperi
21. Jan Magnussen
22. Norberto Fontana
23. Ukyo Katayama
24. Tarso Marquez
25. Shinji Nakano
26. Gianni Morbidelli
27. Nicola Larini
28. Ricardo Rosset
There were just 28 drivers…
Autosport, 4th December 1997
Keith Wiggins’s relationship to Lola is spelt out.
F1 News, 3rd March 1998
Frank Dernie, formerly of Arrows, is to help rebuild the Lola firm.
And another ‘Caption This’/’Scene At…’ gag at MasterCard’s expense…
Autosport, 26th February and 12th March 1998
Keith Wiggins is definitely back at Lola as their US vice-president, and they are rebuilding their ChampCar market.
F1 News, 17th March 1998
This edition of “Bob’s Burning Question” discusses TWR building an entire car package, but this was equally Lola’s intention the season before, so seems relevant here.
F1 News, 5th September 1998
There will be space for a Formula 1 team to use this windtunnel? Two years too late, Lola!
F1 Racing, November 1998
Al Melling was still trying to get his engine company competing in F1. After all, if Brian Hart, Cosworth and Mugen could do it…
Autosport, 10th December 1998
Al Melling had not given up on his idea of running an F1 engine… All hail, the Powertech V10! Wonder what its performance figures were like compared to the Ford engine within the Lola, and compared to other engines from the 1999 season (when this would have run)? Better or worse than the Mechachrome?
Autosport, 17th December 1998
As BAR run their 1999 car for the first time, Autosport consider how other ‘new’ teams compared on debut.
And as a treat (or not if you’re concerned about download limits, in which case I am slightly sorry), some of the pictures/drawing of the Lola isolated/cropped from the above articles, followed by some photos found elsewhere on the internet.
And some extra images from Google search (added 3rd August 2015):
Enoch Law, F1 Rejects website, January 2003 wrote:
ORIGINAL REJECTS PROFILE OF MASTERCARD LOLA
'Be prepared' has maximum value in F1
Modern Formula One is more about professionalism and preparation than ever before, with as little as humanly possible left to chance. The amount of testing that many teams do per year is testament to that. So too, for example, Toyota's entry into the top league in 2002. By the start of the preceding 2001 season, the Toyota engine had already been conceived, and test chassis had been built in readiness for a full year of testing by Mika Salo and Allan McNish. They were then amongst the first teams to unveil their 2002 car, and the level of preparation showed when Salo scored points on the team's debut. When the Stewart team decided to enter Grand Prix racing in the 1997 season, they declared its intention to do so as early as January 1996, and by December that year, a full three months before its first race, the Stewart SF1 had been launched. That gave them a full three months to sort out the teething problems of the car, and to turn it into a reasonably competitive proposition. And, despite the unreliability of the Ford engine in 1997, the Stewarts of Rubens Barrichello and Jan Magnussen ran respectably in the midfield throughout the season.
There may be exceptions to the rule, but generally it holds true that preparation is everything in F1. Now, Stewart was not the only team to enter F1 in 1997. But while the tartan tearaways were a demonstration of the right way to go about things, the other attempt became a cautionary tale of woe, showing exactly how not to mount a Grand Prix challenge. The team in question was none other than the works effort of Eric Broadley's famous Lola marque. On paper, with no little shortage of experience behind the name, it should never have been this way. Lola had been founded by Broadley in 1958, and had been in F1 since the 1960s, building cars for other teams. In 1962, the Lola 4 had been designed for the Bowmaker Racing Team, and John Surtees took the car to pole position in its debut outing, as well as two 2nds, a 4th and two 5ths throughout the season. The cars were then run especially by Reg Parnell's team in 1963 with little success. In addition to F1 cars, Lola also began building machines for F2 racing, with the BMW works team amongst its customers in the late 1960s.
A lengthy association with F1
In 1974 and 1975, Graham Hill's Embassy Racing team ran a Lola chassis, whilst Lolas dominated F5000 in the 1970s. In 1983, Lola had entered CART for the first time with the Newman/Haas team, and by 1988 had become the chassis of choice. 1985 and 1986 had also seen another F1 effort with Alan Jones and Patrick Tambay in the Team Haas cars, before Lola built cars for the Larrousse team from 1987 to 1991, recording a 3rd place in the 1990 Japanese GP with Aguri Suzuki. The make's last F1 chassis for another team had been the disastrous T93/30 for BMS Scuderia Italia in 1993. It had always been Broadley's dream, however, to enter a Lola Grand Prix team in its own right. After a radical chassis for 1994 had never been built, a works Lola effort had been touted since 1995, when an F1 prototype had been built and given some test runs by Allan McNish. And, since Reynard had overthrown the monopoly that Lola once had in F3000 and CART, an F1 team would serve to re-establish the marque in the international motorsport scene. This was the case even though in 1996, when F3000 switched to its present single-make formula, Lola won the contract to build the chassis.
It seemed as though the dream would become reality, when in 1996 Broadley put together a sponsorship deal with credit card giant MasterCard, with the aim of entering the World Championship in 1998. And it seemed like a step in the right direction to get the financial package together first, MasterCard putting in $35 million, not a massive sum by F1 standards but healthy enough to get the team started. An engine deal to run Ford Zetec-R V8s was also put in place. Although this would be several years old, being the engines Sauber ran in 1995, at least it was a reliable enough unit. The MasterCard deal was said to be 'innovative', in that it depended upon using Lola's racing activities to draw in customers to the credit card program. This was never a guaranteed success in the first place, and it meant that cash was only trickling rather than flowing into the team. The situation was made much worse when MasterCard decided in November 1996 that it wanted Lola to race in 1997. This edict meant that the Lola effort was soon fast-tracked on a highway to F1 hell. By the time Stewart was launching their F1 car, Lola was just beginning to design theirs.
Rosset and Sospiri signed to do battle
The T97/30 was quickly penned at Lola's base at Huntington. Despite the rush, Broadley was confident, saying: "We have the experience, the commitment and the desire to succeed in F1. We have knowledge from our composites shop, our engineers cross over from both programs and the wind tunnel work we have done at Cranfield with the Indycar is directly applicable to F1. We have basically worked at lightening components down to F1 needs. We have taken the best ideas from specialists in the wind tunnel, aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics and the like to produce the final machine." But despite all this reference to wind tunnel work, the amazing thing was that the T97/30 never actually saw a wind tunnel - there was just not the time. Yet Broadley still believed that the Lola could defeat the new Stewarts: "If we don't beat them, then we deserve to be given a good kick up the backside. With our experience and back-up, it should be no problem." Furthermore, in response to suggestions that his cars would struggle to meet the 107% qualifying mark, he said: "The 107% rule is actually quite a large margin. If we can't do that, then we really shouldn't be in it."
His words would soon haunt him. A deal was struck to run Bridgestone tyres, and Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset signed on to drive. They had been team-mates in the 1995 F3000 championship, in which they came 1st and 2nd respectively, so they were a capable pairing. But the signs were ominous. With the T97/30 launched on February 20, there was only time for a shakedown and no serious testing before the cars were shipped to Australia for the first round of the 1997 championship. Yet those brief runs were enough to show that the cars were going to be horrendously slow. In addition, there were gremlins with the gearbox, but the biggest problem lay with the aerodynamics. The car just could not generate enough mechanical or aerodynamic grip, and could therefore not get the tyres up to temperature. Amazingly, the drivers reported that the car had too much drag in a straight line, compromising their top speed, but the same package then in turn could not generate enough downforce going through the turns, thereby compromising cornering speed as well. The T97/30 was fundamentally flawed, and the lack of wind-tunnel time had made it even more of a joke.
Way off 107% with little improvement on the horizon
Despite their rather fetching paint-job, the crew had to work around the clock for several days prior to the start of practice in Melbourne just to ensure that both drivers would get some track time. But immediately it was clear that Lola's trip down under would be entirely fruitless. On the Friday both drivers had problems balancing the car, and while the best times dipped into the 1 minute 32s bracket, Rosset had only managed a 1:41.166, and Sospiri a 1:42.590. It was desperately clear that they would have to find a few extra seconds if they were to stand any chance of qualifying the next day. But improvement was simply not forthcoming. On the Saturday morning, instead of going quicker, both cars actually went slower, Rosset recording 1:41.416 and Sospiri doing a 1:44.286. This when virtually all other cars were going quicker, Jacques Villeneuve in the Williams recording the (then) fastest lap ever seen at Albert Park of 1:28.594, some 13 seconds faster than Rosset and almost 16 seconds over Sospiri. People were justifiably asking whether or not the T97/30 could be any faster than an F3000 car.
The writing was well and truly on the wall. Indeed, when Villeneuve put in one of the most dominant qualifying performances in recent memory, recording a 1:29.369 time, some 1.7s faster than 2nd-placed team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen, that left a 107% cut-off mark of 1:35.625. Only 21 of the 24 entries made it below that time, with Pedro Diniz in the Arrows only managing 1:35.972, despite having gone faster than that in practice. After some grovelling by Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw, Diniz was allowed to start, but nothing was ever going to give the Lolas that kind of break. The best that Sospiri could do was 1:40.972, while Rosset blew out to a 1:42.086. Never in anyone's wildest dreams would Broadley's cars be allowed to start. Simply, neither driver had been able to find anything remotely resembling a grip-conducive set-up all weekend. Said Sospiri: "It was always going to be a tough job. We all tried to make it work but we need more track time to find the balance and how to generate more grip." Rosset lamented: "I know that we will be expected to do better for the next race and I do need to show the many race fans at home that we are progressing as a new team."
F1 effort crumbles in debt and their GP sojourn is history
There were indeed new parts and more development planned for the future, as well as a new, in-house built V10 engine, so Rosset would have thought that he had reason to be optimistic after the pathetic showing in Australia. But there was to be no next race. Both drivers went to Brazil, only to read in the newspapers that their team had collapsed. In the space of a few short months, Lola's Grand Prix arm had built up some 6 million pounds in debt, half of which was owed to parent company Lola Cars. The risky sponsorship program with MasterCard had not helped things at all. The MasterCard Lola debacle of 1997 almost spelled the end of the great Lola name altogether. Lola Cars itself went into receivership shortly afterwards, and was only saved when Martin Birrane bought the company from Broadley. Since then, in an upturn of fortunes, with Reynard having folded Lola once again has a monopoly in CART as well as in F3000, and a burgeoning sports car program. However, Formula One looks out of the picture, and the 1997 farce serves as a reminder to anyone thinking of entering the top flight of just how tough Grand Prix racing can be.