Onyx Grand Prix


  • Onyx Grand Prix Official Name
  • Westergate House, United Kingdom Base
  • 1989 F1 Debut
  • Mike Earle / Greg Field Team Boss
  • Alan Jenkins Technical Chief
  • 0 World Championships

Onyx Grand Prix was a British Formula One constructor that competed in the 1989 and 1990 seasons. The team’s standout achievement was Stefan Johansson’s third-place finish at the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the team ceased operations midway through the 1990 season due to financial and management problems.

Notable Team Members and Drivers

Stefan Johansson: Driver who achieved the team’s only podium finish at the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix.

Jean-Pierre Van Rossem: Owner of Moneytron, who later acquired majority ownership of Onyx.

Peter Monteverdi: Swiss businessman who purchased a 50% stake in the team in 1990.


Onyx Grand Prix was established in late 1978 by Mike Earle and Greg Field, who had previously collaborated on the LEC racing team. Founded by David Purley, LEC competed in Formula Atlantic, Formula 2, European Formula 5000, and a few Formula 1 races. Earle also brought his experience from managing Church Farm Racing in Formula 3, Formula 2, and Formula 5000.

Formula 1

Onyx’s time in Formula One was brief. Despite a promising first season, the team faced severe management and financial issues during its second season, which led to the abrupt shutdown of the team in 1990.


At the end of 1988, a majority stake in Onyx Grand Prix was sold to Paul Shakespeare, and the team secured a sponsorship agreement with Marlboro, providing the necessary funding to enter Formula One. Stefan Johansson and rookie Bertrand Gachot were hired as drivers, with Gachot bringing additional sponsorship from Moneytron. Later that year, Moneytron owner Jean-Pierre Van Rossem acquired Shakespeare’s share in the team.

Under the guidance of Alan Jenkins, a former McLaren engineer, the Onyx ORE-1 was developed. The car was completed just in time for the first race of the season in Brazil, leaving no opportunity for testing or fine-tuning. Consequently, the car was the slowest in the field, and neither driver managed to pre-qualify for the race.

The team’s troubles compounded when one of the chassis was destroyed during a testing session following the first race. Another car suffered significant damage when Johansson attempted to pre-qualify for the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix.

Despite these setbacks, the team made progress with the car. Johansson qualified for the 1989 Mexican Grand Prix, although his transmission failed during the race. He also qualified for the 1989 United States Grand Prix but experienced a suspension failure.

During this period, Greg Field rejoined the team, replacing Martin Dickson as team manager.

Johansson qualified for the 1989 Canadian Grand Prix but was shown the black flag and later disqualified for dragging pit equipment out of the pits after his second stop.

Gachot failed to qualify for any races until the 1989 French Grand Prix, where he scored the team’s first championship points. Johansson finished fifth from 13th on the grid, earning two points. This would be the only race in which both cars completed the race distance.

The team’s high point came at the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix, where Johansson secured a podium finish, the first and only in Onyx’s history. However, by this time, Gachot had been fired after the 1989 Belgian Grand Prix for criticising the team’s lack of testing and his boss’s erratic behavior.

Van Rossem, despite claiming to invest in a Porsche engine project, grew increasingly unhappy with the costs of running the team. During the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, he made controversial comments to the Belgian media, allegedly referring to F1 management CEO Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre in derogatory terms. Although he denied these allegations, he was banned from attending future Grand Prix events by Ecclestone.

Rookie JJ Lehto was brought in to drive the second car. Despite having only tested for Ferrari that year, Lehto managed to race in two late-season events, while Johansson failed to qualify for any further races that year.


The off-season proved challenging for Onyx Grand Prix. Financial resources quickly dwindled, and personal conflicts with Jean-Pierre Van Rossem led to the departures of both Mike Earle and Greg Field. Alan Jenkins stepped in to lead the team, appointing Peter Rheinardt as the new team manager. However, after failing to secure an engine deal with Honda or Porsche, Van Rossem abandoned the team, terminating the Moneytron sponsorship.

Peter Monteverdi purchased a 50% stake in the team, with Karl Foitek and Brune Frei splitting the remaining 50%. The financial situation was so dire that Foitek had to pay the team’s outstanding 1989 tyre bill before Goodyear would supply tyres for the 1990 season.

Following the change in ownership, Earle was rehired, but Jenkins was dismissed shortly after due to his refusal to work with Earle. This proved to be inconsequential, as Earle, Rheinardt, and many other experienced team members left before the season began.

JJ Lehto was retained for the 1990 season to race alongside Gregor Foitek, Karl Foitek’s son. However, due to a prior contract with Brabham, Gregor could not race for Onyx in the first two races of the season. Stefan Johansson drove in these races but later sued the team for breach of contract after being replaced by Foitek.

At the start of the season, neither driver managed to qualify for a race. Financial constraints forced the team to run the 1989 car, and Johansson’s incidents resulted in the destruction of two chassis.

Once Gregor Foitek took over, the team introduced a slightly updated ORE-1B chassis, which showed marginal improvement. At the 1990 Monaco Grand Prix, Foitek was on track to secure one point for a sixth-place finish but collided with Éric Bernard late in the race, dropping to seventh, which became the team’s best finish that year.

In July, the team relocated to Switzerland despite an attempted court injunction by Johansson and Jenkins. Under the majority ownership of Monteverdi, the team was rebranded as Monteverdi Onyx Formula One.

As finances tightened and many experienced team members departed, rumours of dangerous practices began to surface. These included welding together broken suspension parts and using spare components from Monteverdi’s personal sports car collection. The team was also accused of incorrectly installing the driveshaft on Lehto’s car.

Fearing for his son’s safety, Karl Foitek withdrew his funding and pulled Gregor from the driver lineup. The team was subsequently shut down after the 1990 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Onyx Grand Prix Legacy

After his experience in Formula One, Mike Earle founded Arena International Motorsport in 1999. The team competed in touring car and sports car racing until it was sold to Capsicum Racing, which operated it until its closure in 2012.

Earle then attempted to re-enter the racing scene in the 2014 World Touring Car Championship under the Onyx name with a Ford Fiesta. However, these plans were quickly abandoned due to a lack of support from Ford. Subsequently, Onyx focused on building the Ford Focus ST for the 2015 TCR International Series. Unfortunately, the car proved to be uncompetitive, and the team’s assets were eventually sold to Formula Racing Development.

Onyx Grand Prix Formula One World Championship Records

First entry1989 Brazilian Grand Prix
Races entered26 (17 starts)
Constructors’ Championships0
Drivers’ Championships0
Race victories0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
Final entry1990 Hungarian Grand Prix

Entrant Names

1989Moneytron Onyx Formula One
1990Monteverdi Onyx Formula One

Onyx Grand Prix Constructors’ Championship Results

1989ORE-1Ford Cosworth DFR 3.5 V8Goodyear36Stefan JohanssonAll610th
37Bertrand Gachot1–12
JJ Lehto13–16
Ford Cosworth DFR 3.5 V8Goodyear35Stefan Johansson1–20
Gregor Foitek3–10
36JJ Lehto1–10

Source: Wikipedia.com

Onyx Grand Prix Drivers

Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
Swedish Footwork Arrows 1980 Argentine Grand Prix Retired