Meet the Footwork-Porsche FA12, a Forgotten Formula One Backmarker
There’s no better period for F1 cars and aesthetics.
Race Service just held its first event since the pandemic ended the social world as we know it. Things are getting back up to speed and I’m glad that Race Service is back to hosting fascinating car gatherings in their gorgeous space; this time for Patrick Long’s collection of cars and an Omaze giveaway. This particular machine is extra special.
- Car: 1991 Footwork-Porsche FA12 driven by Michele Alboreto
- Location: Race Service, Los Angeles, CA
- Photog: Chris Rosales (IG + Twit @Chrishasacamera)
- Camera: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Porsche had a very successful run in Formula One in the ’70s with its engines and a TAG-funded effort for McLaren in the ’80s. Porsche had a reasonable winning record in F1, with winning teams. Deciding to return to the sport, Porsche inexplicably teamed up with backmarker Footwork Arrows to make a V12 engine to suit the 1991 regulations, designed by none other than Hans Mezger.
Arrows was a skint but effective outfit before investment from Japanese businessman Wataru Ohashi of Footwork Express Co., a logistics company. Ohashi-san previously sponsored a Formula 3000 team, and spent lots of money in the Arrows team, with the stipulation that the cars carry the Footwork name. In 1991, Arrows officially became Footwork Arrows, more commonly as just Footwork.
With a decent bit of money and a works Porsche engine, Footwork seemed to be destined for some good results. History has looked poorly on the collaboration, with the novel design of the Porsche 3512 80-degree V12 engine making it 50 pounds heavier than the Honda V12 and 100 pounds heavier than the Ferrari V12. It was rumored to be two of the earlier TAG V6 engines put together, a classic Metzger trick from the 917s engine, and even took power from the center like the 917. Oil pressure issues plagued the engine, causing hideous unreliability.
Even with that extra weight, durability was poor, with Footwork failing to qualify and retiring from six races until they pulled the plug. After the French Grand Prix, a Cosworth DFR V8 was installed to similarly poor results.
Patrick Long owns this particular FA12 chassis and is working on getting the Porsche V12 working again so he can drive it on a track once more. I wish him the best of luck and godspeed. I want to be there to see it roar again. Just look at it. There’s no better period for F1 cars and aesthetics.
As big as we could get it: