The excitement, the passion, the thrill of battle on a hot track — no wonder Formula 1 is one of the most attractive sports in the world.

Unfortunately, it sometimes means that anyone with a workshop, a couple of spanners and a copy of F1 Racing magazine thinks they can have a go.

That was the case back in the late-1980s when Ernesto Vita decided he wanted to be the next Enzo Ferrari and produce a Grand Prix car that would take on the big boys. Sadly, the only thing Ernesto and Enzo had in common was that they were both Italian and had a base in Modena.

Despite that, Vita set up an F1 team, called it Life (a translation of his name) and even found a former Ferrari engineer, Franco Rocchi, to provide him with an engine.

Rocchi was bit like that mad bloke in films who has been sacked after his boss had rejected his “brilliant” design and was now determined to show the world what he could do. Vita fell for it and bought the W12 unit.

Then he did a deal with First Racing for a car that had not made it on to the circuit a year earlier and was described by its designer Richard Divila as “an interesting flowerpot”, presumably because it was highly breakable and full of manure.

The combination was christened the Life L190 and entered into the 1990 F1 season.

The car became the object of ridicule.

Its power output was 450hp compared to about 650hp for its rivals, while the car was the heaviest in the field. The Life was actually barely faster than a Formula 3 car. It was like racing a Lada against a Lotus.

Driver Gary Brabham bailed out (literally) in his second race qualification when the car coasted to a halt after 400 yards. The crew had refused to put any oil in the engine as they had gone on strike.

Italian veteran Bruno Giacomelli replaced him, but the car still never managed more than four laps before exploding.

Realising the engine was a pig in a poke, the team replaced it with a Judd V8. But the bonnet didn’t fit.

In 14 attempts, the L190 never qualified for the final race. At Imola, the car was so slow it was more than seven minutes short of the eventual pole time, meaning it could have been overtaken four times on the first lap.

No car was entered for the last two races and Life was never heard of again.