Equipe Gauthier is a racing organisation formed by former French Formula 1 driver Guillaume Gauthier. The team competes across several categories, including F1RWRS, the Siemens Ausdauer Reject Series, the Rejects Rallycross Championship, as well as the now-defunct F1 Rejects Grand Prix 2 Championship, from where the team's origins are traced.
Equipe Gauthier was formed during the 1996 F1RGP2C off-season, as the struggling Tyrrell team sought to off-load their operation there as it was a big financial drain on the organisation as a whole. Guillaume Gauthier, having retired from full-time racing after the close of the 1995 season, acquired backing from some major investors to finance a takeover of the team, with him taking the team principal position and a plurality shareholder stake. Gauthier moved to have the team renamed in light of the change of ownership, however, this was blocked by the mercurial Andreas Stefano, team principal of Ferrari's F1RGP2C effort. The team hired Samael Meerwick and Lawrence Tucker to drive for them, both of whom carried a fair amount of sponsorship money. However, both drivers failed to do anything of note, and were both sacked after 5 races. Thanks to some underhanded contract wrangling, Gauthier was able to keep a large portion of the sponsorship money from both drivers, and set about looking for a new pairing to finish out the season.
Robert Anderson was eventually hired, and with a large amount of backing from British-American Tobacco, which enabled Gauthier to sign a more talented driver to lead the team - he eventually settled on Martin McFry. While Anderson's backing was signficant, his pace was not - he failed to qualify in half of his outings for the team, and while McFry was quicker than anyone else who drove the car that season, he regularly wound up making driving errors and crashing. Anderson's lack of pace would spark a feud between the Brit and team boss Gauthier, which eventually came to a head with Anderson's infamous actions at the Belgian race, where he collided with title-contender Tom Douglas, arguably costing Douglas the championship, proceeded to set his car on fire, and then assaulted journalists after the race. He was promptly fired and sued by Gauthier, with the full amount of his sponsorship money being paid to the team by BAT in an out-of-court settlement.
The team quickly replaced him with Plinio Vida for the Italian GP, before lining up Frédéric-Maxime Voeckler and Tracey Windham to finish the season. Gauthier however ran out of patience with McFry, and the two mutally agreed to part ways following Italy, with Johan Gustafsson finishing out the season in McFry's car. By the end of the season, the team wound up 13th in the Constructors' Championship, ahead of only the recalcitrant Lola team. The horrendous lack of pace, revolving door driver policy, and just Robert Anderson in general also guaranteed Gauthier the Reject of the Year award for 1997. However, thanks to his underhanded and shady contracts, he had amassed together enough money to buy out most of his fellow shareholders, and move the team's base of operations from Ockham, UK to La Crau, near Guillaume's hometown of Toulon. With uncontested control of the team, a new base from which to grow and expand, and a fairly healthy budget given the team's struggles, things looked more promising for 1998.
For the 1998 season, the team acquired the services of Johan Gustafsson and Frédéric-Maxime Voeckler - the Voeckler signing bringing a very lucrative sponsorship deal with Alstom, as well as signalling the beginning of a friendly business relationship between Gauthier and the Voeckler family. From the off, however, all was not well. The new GF1.01 was merely an evolution of the Tyrrell 025 used to contest 1997, and it showed as the team struggled to qualify all season long - racking up a total of 11 DNQ's across the season. Gustafsson didn't help matters - although he showed flashes of brilliance in his 2 race starts at the end of the 1997 season, he was regularly outpaced by Voeckler, who himself was picked up after the Canadian GP by Williams to replace the sacked Daniel Moreno.
The team's test driver, Emanuele Nicchi, replaced Voeckler, and immediately impressed, scoring his and the team's first ever point on his debut in the British GP, while Gustafsson picked up his 5th DNQ. This signalled the end of Gauthier's patience with the Swede, who was given 3 races to not DNQ if he wanted to keep his seat. The US GP saw Gustafsson make it through when Nicchi's car encountered an early issue which prevented him from setting a fast time, he was unable to replicate this for the French round, and was subsequently sacked in favour of Life GP and Rejects-1 star Vic Sunset.
Although Sunset initially struggled to acclimatise to F1RGP2C, once he did he was much quicker than Gustafsson. This, combined with Nicchi's performance, resulted in the team's best result at the time at the Belgian GP, where Nicchi scored a second point by finishing 6th, with Sunset backing that up with his best finish that year of 8th. Despite the relative lack of pace, these points helped Gauthier secure 9th in the WCC, marking how much the organisation of the team had improved from 1997.
Following the move of DGNgineering to Formula One, a team slot opened up for a new F1RWRS team - after presenting an ambitious but ultimately grounded proposal, Gauthier won the berth and set about expanding and updating their facilities to cope with the needs of a full-fledged F1RWRS operation. They purchased Aeroracing Engineering's 2015 chassis, which Guillaume's son Arnaud Gauthier set about updating for Gauthier's needs in 2016. A 3-year works deal with PURE-Hart was signed, on the basis of the engine's tremendous qualifying package which would enable the team to be competitive in pre-qualifying from their first race. Finally, Jesus Plaza and Hansuke Shioya were both signed to drive for the team, with Benoît Voeckler and Calvin Brooks in the test driver roles, Voeckler bringing significant backing from Alstom.
The team did not get off to the best of starts at the Australian GP, as both Plaza and Shioya collided in pre-qualifying. They finally passed pre-qualifying at the British GP, and while Shioya retired from the race, Plaza held steady to record the team's first finish with a 9th. Although Italy would yield nothing but 2 DNPQ's, a superb performance in pre-qualifying for the Austrian GP saw the team exempted from pre-qualifying at Canada. Although Shioya failed to make the qualifying cut, after that, the team did not record another DNQ, and did not fall back into pre-qualifying. In the race, Plaza recorded another finish, this time improving with an 8th, but this was merely a build-up to the team's first taste of true F1RWRS glory.
Hansuke Shioya placed his car 9th on the grid for the next race, the Canadian GP, and in what turned out to be a major race of attrition, he held his nerve, and the car held together, enabling him to take a fantastic second place finish. Although Gauthier would fail to score again, as reliability would turn out to be a major issue, the points from the podium vaulted the team up the WCC, and gave the whole team a major morale boost.
However, it was not enough to alleviate all of the team's financial concerns, and so, following the Belgian Grand Prix, the team replaced both Plaza and Shioya with Danny van Rijkens, who had become increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress at CR Motorsport, and F2RWRS driver Gregor Pascal, both of whom brought additional sponsorship to bolster the team's budget. This sponsorship enabled Gauthier to acquire CR's chassis in time for the Argentine Grand Prix. Combined with the powerful PURE-Hart, this enabled van Rijkens to place the car on the front row, and the South African looked like a sure bet for points before the engine expired fairly early on. This was a theme that would continue through the last 2 races, but it was enough to convince Gauthier and van Rijkens to continue their partnership into 2017.
For 2017, Gauthier will continue to run Danny van Rijkens, who will be joined by Tomo Kazama, winner of the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix. The team will run an updated version of the CR PP-A chassis they ran at the end of 2016, dubbed the Gauthier G2.17.
Complete F1RGP2C Results
|1997||Tyrrell 025||Ford EDM4 3.0 V8||AUS||BRA||ARG||SMR||MON||ESP||CAN||USA||FRA||GBR||GER||HUN||BEL||ITA||AUT||JPN||0||14th|
|1998||Gauthier GF1.01||Ford JD Zetec-R||AUS||BRA||ARG||SMR||ESP||MON||CAN||GBR||USA||FRA||AUT||GER||HUN||BEL||ITA||JPN||2||9th|
- While Robert Anderson was retroactively disqualified from the 1997 F1RGP2C season following his actions at the Belgian GP, Gauthier Team Tyrrell were allowed to keep his results in the WCC.
Complete F1RWRS Results
|2016|| Gauthier G1.16
|Danny van Rijkens||15†||Ret||12†||Ret|
|Current F1RWRS Teams|
|Defunct F1RWRS Teams|
| Acuri - AMR - ARC - Bangelia - Calinetic - Dagnall/DGN - FAT Turbo - Flying Fish Motorsports - GRM - Hemogoblin - Horizon - JLD - KQ |
Lotus - MAN - Minardi - Mitie - O'Lauchlan - Pacchia - Phoenix - Rosenforth - SOTL - Tropico - Trueba - Virgin - West Cliff - ZimSport