Life was a Formula One constructor from Modena, Italy. The company was named for its founder, Ernesto Vita ("Vita" is Italian for "Life"). Life first emerged on the Formula One scene in 1990, trying to market their unconventional W12 3.5-litre engine. The team had a disastrous single season, and failed to make the grid in all 14 attempted starts during the 1990 season, often clocking in laps many seconds slower than their next competitor.
Life's W12, or "broad arrow", engine had been designed by the former Ferrari engineer Franco Rocchi, who had been responsible for, among others, Ferrari's 3-litre V8 for the 1970s 308 GTB and GTS. Rocchi's W12 plans dated back to a 1967 single-module W3 of 500 cc (31 cu in) as a prototype for a 3-litre W18 Ferrari engine of a planned 480 hp. After his dismissal in 1980, Rocchi worked privately on an engine in a W12 configuration. Franco Rocchi's W12 was ready in the first half of the 1989 Formula One season. It was the time when turbocharged engines were no longer legal in Formula One and the rules required a normally aspirated motor.
When the new season came, the team had one chassis, one engine, and few if any spare parts. The W12 turned out to be the least powerful engine of the year: its output was 480 hp while others produced 600 to 700 hp. At the same time, the ex-First L190 chassis was one of the heaviest cars in the field at 530 kg. Handling was bad and reliability was poor. As a result, the Life was no faster than a Formula 3 car. Even in Formula 3000, it would have been outclassed.
Initially Sir Jack Brabham's son Gary Brabham was signed to drive with Franco Scapini hired as test driver. When Brabham failed to pre-qualify twice he left the team for good, as the car had coasted to a halt after 400 yards with the mechanics on strike revealing they never put oil in the engine during his second event. Bruno Giacomelli, an Italian veteran who had last raced in Formula One in 1983, was then signed by the team. The car never managed to run more than eight laps without technical problems. At the 1990 San Marino Grand Prix Giacomelli said that he was scared he might be struck from behind as his car was so slow. At the pre-qualifying sessions for that race, Giacomelli completed his run with a gap of nearly six minutes to the second slowest time. For the Portuguese Grand Prix, the team replaced their own engine with a more conventional Judd CV V8, but then found that the engine cover did not fit; it flew off the car on its first lap of Estoril. They withdrew before the final two Grand Prix.
Activity: 1990 Grand Prix: 14 Best Result: Did Not Pre-Qualify Best Grid Position: Did Not Pre-Qualify Fastest Laps: 0 Championship Points: 0