MAY 8, 1995

Rinland leaves Forti?

Reports from Italy suggest that Argentine engineer Sergio Rinland has left the Forti Corse F1 team - just a few weeks after he joined the new Grand Prix team.

Rinland is believed to have fallen out with the Forti management over the lack of competitiveness of the FG01-95 chassis. Although officially Rinland had nothing to do with the design of the car, there is much speculation that it was based on the last Fondmetal F1 car, designed by Rinland in 1992. Certainly, the men credited with the car - designer Chris Radage and aerodynamicist Hans Fouche - both worked for Rinland's Astauto design office on the Fondmetal project.

Whatever the case, after three Grands Prix of the 1995 season, Forti Corse is having to face up to the fact that its current chassis is hopeless. The gap between Forti and the frontrunners at Imola last week was around eight seconds - which is not a margin which can be made up with development work. If the team wants any hope of a good result this year, it will have to scrap the car and build a new one.

The team is fortunate in that it claims to have a budget of $17 million for 1995, but it must now decide whether to spend the rest of this year wasting that money on the current car while investing in a better design for next season, or whether to ditch the FG01-95 in the mid-season and find a new designer to produce a chassis which will enable the team to produce some good performances before the end of the year.

The plan with Rinland was for him to establish an English design office for the team as soon as he could. That may remain a possibility with another engineer, but any new designer will probably insist that a new car be embarked upon immediately.

One man who might fit the bill for Forti is American designer Steve Nichols, who was working with Larrousse until that project folded.