CONSTRUCTORS: FONDMETAL F1 SPA

Name: Fondmetal F1 SpA

Gabriele Rumi took over the family iron foundry business in 1961. It was a comfortable living and it enabled him to indulge his passion of motor racing in hillclimbs and later in the single-seater Formula Monza. He came to the sport too late to be a serious contender however, and so gave up racing and concentrated on building up the company. In 1970 he decided to diversify into light alloy, producing parts for automotive engines and in 1972 he started his own alloy wheel business which he called Fondmetal. This became very successful and in 1983 be began sponsoring driver Piercarlo Ghinzani, who was driving for the Osella Formula 1 team. The following year Fondmetal began supplying lightweight racing wheels to Williams, Tyrrell and Ligier.

The link with Osella led in 1989 to Rumi becoming the team's major sponsor and he acquired the entire operation at the end of 1990. He set about reorganizing it under the Fondmetal name, opening a new factory at Palosco near Bergamo and bringing back Palazzoli to manage the operation. Initially driver Olivier Grouillard had to make do with old Osella chassis but after a couple of races Robin Herd's design bureau in Bicester - hastily renamed Fomet 1 - brought out the Fomet-Ford 1. Grouillard still struggled to pre-qualify but when he did he usually made it into the race, his best (only) result being 10th in Belgium.

At the end of the year Grouillard upset Rumi with comments in the French press and was dropped in favor of Gabriele Tarquini.

Rumi was not satisfied with the Fomet 1 chassis and so decided to look elsewhere. He had talks with Tom Walkinshaw Racing but eventually decided to fund the construction of a car by Astauto - Sergio Rinland's design office in Tolworth, Surrey, which was made up of many of the design staff from Brabham.

The 1992 season began with Tarquini and Swiss driver Andrea Chiesa driving Fondmetal GR01s. These were updated versions of the Fomet 1. But in the mid-season the Rinland-designed GR02 appeared for Tarquini and Chiesa's replacement Eric van de Poele. It was the Belgian who scored the best result for the car with 10th in Italy.

Unfortunately, the team proved to be very expensive and, unable to find enough commercial backing, Rumi decided to shut the team down rather than incur debts. After the Portuguese GP the team disappeared.

Rumi maintained his interest in F1 and later joined forces with former Ferrari aerodynamicist Jean-Claude Migeot and bought the Casumaro windtunnel, one of the most advanced in the world at the time. The new company, Fondmetal Technologies, did consultancy work with Mercedes in touring car racing and with F1 teams Benetton and Tyrrell.

In 1996 Rumi was one of the consortium which bought Minardi and at the end of 1997 he became the majority shareholder in the team.

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