While Lamborghini has created some of the world’s most influential cars ever, the Italian carmaker hasn’t dominated the world of Formula 1. As Drive to Survive on Netflix brings even more new viewers to the sport, many car enthusiasts have begun to notice Lamborghini’s absence on the grid.
While the Italian carmaker might not be competing in 2021, it is no stranger to the sport. According to F1 Technical, Lamborghini competed in the 1990s with a car called the Lambo 291. Despite a powerful V12 under its hood, this car’s short-lived career definitely didn’t go as planned.
Does Lamborghini have a Formula 1 team?
In short, no. Lamborghini has never had its own official Formula 1 team. Despite this, the Italian carmaker did make an entry into the sport back in the early 1990s. According to F1 Technical, this was when the carmaker asked engineers Mauro Forghieri and Mario Tolentino to design a new car. The pair designed the car around the carmaker’s L3512 naturally-aspirated V12 engine.
Part of what makes Lamborghini’s first Formula 1 venture quite odd is that the carmaker didn’t want its name on the car. In fact, F1 Technical reports that the carmaker didn’t want to affect its brand image in the public eye. As a result, the team was named Modena. Despite this attempt to draw attention away, the carmaker still chose to name its car Lambo 291.
Like all F1 cars of the time, the Lambo 291 got a carbon-fiber chassis. The result was a weight of around 1124 lb. All of the power from its massive V12 went to the rear wheels exclusively via a six-speed manual transmission.
Why did it withdraw from F1?
Despite high hopes, Lamborghini’s first Formula 1 car wasn’t a massive success. The Lambo 291 only managed to compete during the 1991 Formula 1 season. Its first hurdle came in the form of pre-qualifying sessions. In these sessions, the car had to set a good lap time to even make it into one of the 16 races that year. Out of these, the car only raced a total of six times.
On its best day, the Lambo 291 finished in seventh place during the U.S. Grand Prix. Despite this one decent finish at the start of the season, UnracedF1 reports that Lamborghini didn’t want to dump any more money into a failing team. Despite high hopes for an eventual return in 1992, the Modena team never returned to Formula 1.
Will Lamborghini ever return to Formula 1?
While anything is possible, Lamborghini returning to Formula 1 is unlikely at best. For starters, just entering the sport costs $200 million. A sum that is equally distributed amongst the current teams on the grid.
Additionally, you’d have to budget the price of building a brand-new car and powertrain from scratch. Unlike competitors such as Ferrari, Lamborghini doesn’t have a history racing program. As a result, it would be too expensive to be viable. Additionally, it seems Lamborghini is plenty happy breaking sales records with its Urus SUV.