56. Osella FA1 1980

S4851 Osella FA1 French GP 1980 – Eddie Cheever

Osella is one of numerous Italian manufacturer which gave its debut in Formula in the Eighties. Like many of them Osella struggled from the beginning. Especially because of financial problems. And also because the team had to improvise. The decision to step up in Formula One was only made three months before the start of the season. Against the will of teamfounder Enzo Osella. He wanted to continue in Formula Two. But sponsor Unilever who sponsored the team with the aftershave-brand Denim pushed the Italians into Formula One. The first Osella, called FA1, was designed by Giorgio Stirano. It was a nice car but much too heavy. Eddie Cheever therefore had no chance to qualify at the first two rounds in Argentina and Brazil. Only in South Africa at the third round Cheever, who lived in Rome, was able to qualify the car. At that time the FA1 was already 30 kilos lighter. “However”, so Eddie Cheever years after, “the car was still too heavy.” The first race of the FA1 in Kyalami ended in the barriers for the former BMW-junior Cheever. “Babyface”, so the nickname of Eddie, was lucky to escape. He got out of the car with cuts at the toes. And walked back to the paddock barefoot. Cheever never saw the chequered flag with the FA1. Due to many technical problems. The weak points of the FA1 was the gearbox and the suspensions. The best qualifying result was P18 in Germany. It only came better when the new car, the FA1B, arrived at the Italian Grand Prix. Where Cheever was classified 12th in Imola, the only Grand Prix of Italy which did not take place in Monza. But at that time it was already clear that Cheever will leave Osella at the end of the season in favour of Tyrrell.

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