With the predominance in Formula 1 of V8, V10 and V12 engines, many engineers turned their thoughts toward the problems of how to extract more power without making the engine heavier or larger. Meanwhile, x-Ferrari engineer Franco Rocchi came up in the mid-80s with the idea of a “W12” format, with three banks of four cylinders each. After struggling for some time to sell his idea, he caught the eye of Italian businessman Ernesto Vita, who suggested forming a Formula One team to showcase the engine.
With limited resources, the team purchased Ricardo Divila’s chassis from the abortive FIRST team – as it had never raced, it was not regarded as a “customer” chassis according to the rules and adapted it to fix some of the safety issues that had led to it failing its crash test in 1989. On driving duties was Gary Brabham, second son of the great Sir Jack.
39. Gary Brabham
Being the son of a triple world champion can come with pressure both to continue the family tradition and to avoid it, and Gary initially set out to be a farmer in rural Wagga Wagga before the lure of racing became too much. By 1982 he set out for Europe and quickly showed his promise, eventually taking 2nd place in 1986 in a new team set up by his father. In 1989 he drove in the inaugural British F3000 championship and won the series, as well as testing for several Formula One teams including Leyton House and Benetton.