Andrea Moda Formula, commonly known as just Andrea Moda, was a Formula One team that competed only during the 1992 season. The team was formed following Andrea Sassetti's purchase of the struggling Coloni team late in 1991, and was named after Sassetti's fashion company, also called Andrea Moda.
The team's existence was brief but eventful. For the first race of the 1992 season, the South African Grand Prix, the team turned up with two old Coloni cars because its own model was not yet ready. The team was not allowed to participate however, as it had not paid the $100,000 deposit required for entry into Formula One. Sassetti claimed that this was still the Coloni team, only under new management, but this fell on deaf ears. Their second race, the Mexican Grand Prix also saw them fail to make it onto the track, this time because the cars were not assembled in time to take part.
The drivers for these first two races were nominally Alex Caffi and Enrico Bertaggia, but neither of them managed to sit in the car at a Grand Prix meeting. After Mexico, both drivers were critical of the team's lack of preparation and progress, so they were both promptly sacked. From the third race of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix onwards, the team employed Roberto Moreno and Perry McCarthy. Unfortunately McCarthy was initially refused the Super License required for participation in Formula One events, and so was unable to take part in Brazil. Meanwhile, Moreno failed to make it out of pre-qualifying, but at least a car had finally made it on to the track.
In the Spanish Grand Prix, McCarthy had been granted his Super License, but in pre-qualifying his car broke down before reaching the end of pit lane. Moreno's car ran, but was unable to pre-qualify again. Sometime around the Spanish GP weekend, Bertaggia approached Sassetti about driving again, having found close to a million dollars in sponsorship. Sassetti was desperate for the money, but the FIA refused another driver change, saying the team was not being honest with anyone. Furious at losing all of that money, Sassetti directed the team to ignore McCarthy's entry, and focus on Moreno's car.
At the Monaco Grand Prix, Moreno managed to scrape through qualifying, and started the race 26th and last. For 11 laps, an Andrea Moda car was actually racing, until the engine blew. The rest of the year was a downward spiral. For the Canadian Grand Prix, the teams had no engines, as Judd had not been paid for previous engines. A motor was borrowed from Brabham, but Moreno was more than 15 seconds behind the other cars in pre-qualifying. In the French Grand Prix, truckers were blocking the major highways in a dispute, but every other team managed to get through, usually by paying a "service fee". The Andrea Moda drivers did not have the money to pay, so they spent the weekend at a blockade point. After this incident, the team lost all outside sponsorship.
At Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, a shortage of tires (because Goodyear had not been paid) meant that McCarthy was sent out on rain tires on a hot, dry day. Moreno missed pre-qualifying by two seconds, and McCarthy on the wets was eighteen seconds behind. At the German Grand Prix, both cars went out, but McCarthy found himself excluded from the weekend by shooting past a weigh-in signal. It turned out that he had never seen the signal before, having driven so few laps that he did not recognize it.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix, the team did not even send out McCarthy until there was only 45 seconds remaining in pre-qualifying, meaning that he was unable to set a time. The stewards notified Sassetti that unless both cars were given equal treatment, the team would be out of F1. And around this time, a night club owned by Sassetti in Italy burned down under suspicious circumstances. Witnesses claimed that several gunshots were fired at Sassetti, as he fled the burning building. No one was ever charged, either for the building fire or the gun attack.
So for the Belgian Grand Prix, both cars were ready and rolling for the start of practice, where the Brabham team had withdrawn, meaning there was no pre-qualifying. But the real drama was off the track, where Sassetti was arrested, and charged with forging invoices, related to repairs on his night club. When the transporter arrived for the following race, the Italian Grand Prix, it was refused entry into the paddock. The FIA had banned the team for bringing the sport into disrepute. One of the strangest and most embarrassing chapters in Formula One history was over.
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