F1 cars aren't made by teams. They're not made by automakers, either. They're made by chassis constructors. And few have the kind of experience in the field that Lola has.
The British company (similar to Dallara, Reynard and Panoz) makes a business out of designing and manufacturing racing cars. It makes Aston Martin's Le Mans prototype (among others) and spec racers for various feeder formulae. It made the last Champ Car chassis before the series folded into the IndyCar series, and it makes the SP/300.R track toy for Caterham. For many years, Lola made F1 cars for a variety of teams, too – like the THL1 pictured above, driven by Alan Jones and Patrick Tambay for Team Haas in 1985. And now it wants back in.
A couple of years ago, Lola was one of several outfits vying for a spot on an expanding F1 grid, but was ultimately overlooked in favor of the likes of Team Lotus, Virgin Racing and HRT. Back then, Lola hoped to design and build the chassis for an independent team to race, but now it wants to field its own F1 team. If only the FIA would give it a shot.
It's exactly the thing, say Lola's management, that the company needs to boost its profile. Having lost out to longtime rival Dallara for the new IndyCar contract, it could prove to be just what the doctor ordered. The FIA, for its part, already cleared the way for a 13th team on the grid, but opted not to award the slot to any of the applicants – Lola included. Looks like it's time to start lobbying again.