The story of Subaru in F1 involves a number of players. Among them were:
- Yoshio Takaoka – team president
- Enzo Coloni – team owner/manager
- Carlo Chiti – engine designer
- Bertrand Gachot – driver
Director of the 12-cylinder F1 engine project for Subaru, Takaoka was no stranger to motorsports. He was a rally racer until 1985 and had scored the best results to date for a Japanese driver in the World Rally Championship, finishing 5th overall and winning in Group A in the 1983 East African Safari Rally.
A team owner since 1987, Coloni also had been a professional driver, when he had the nickname, “The Wolf.” Winning the Formula 3 Italian Championship was part of his resume. Then, as a Formula 3/Formula 3000 team manager, he also won the European championships.
When F1’s sanctioning body announced that turbochargers were to be banned starting in 1989, Coloni chose to enter the fray with the Enzo Coloni Racing Car Systems team. From 1987 through 1989, Coloni attempted to compete in 82 F1 races, but only qualified for competition in 14 of them.
When Fuji bought the team, Coloni continued as vice president.
In the early 1950s, Carlo Chiti began his career working for Alfa Romeo in its competition department. Involved with competition cars and engines, Chiti’s resume also included Ferrari, Autodelta (which prepared competition cars), and the F1 team Minardi. In 1984, Minardi helped fund Motori Moderni SpA (which employed Chiti) as the engine builder for its team and others, but Motori Moderni had limited success.
In 1988, Chiti began designing an engine that followed the rules change in F1 requiring normally aspirated engines. It was a Boxer 12-cylinder, commissioned by Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Subaru).
Twenty-seven years old, Belgian Bertrand Gachot seemed to be an up-and-coming F1 driver. He began racing in the Marlboro Europe Challenge in 1984, then competed in the English Formula Ford 1600 Championship in 1985. He also drove successfully in British Formula 3 and Formula 3000.
In 1989, Gachot drove for the Onyx-Ford team in five grands prix, finishing as high as 12th.