Ouch! This is going to cause one mother of a cat fight!
The FIA has announced only 12 teams on its final entry list for the 2010 season, effectively ruling out the aspirant Stefan GP’s ambitions of joining the grid at the eleventh hour.
The final make-up of the 2010 grid has been subject to weeks of speculation, with two of the debutant teams, Campos and USF1, looking highly likely not to be able to join the 13-team field at the season-opening Bahrain GP.
With Campos having been bought our and rebranded to Hispania Racing, it looks to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and its future is, seemingly for now, secure.
USF1, as we all know, has now suspended its operations and is awaiting the FIA’s approval for its request to defer its entry until the 2011 season – by which time, hopefully they will have built a car!
All of this occurred with the aspirant Stefan GP team waiting in the wings for either to stumble, in the hope that it could secure a berth to the 2010 grid at the eleventh hour.
Owned by Zoran Stefanovic and with considerable backing from the Serbian government, Stefan GP had secured a technical collaboration with the remains of the Toyota F1 team and had agreed with the Japanese manufacturer to be supplied its 2010 chassis’ and engines for the season.
The team also looked to have signed former Williams river Kazuki Nakajima and was on the verge of signing former champion Jacques Villeneuve. It had also sent a shipping container of equipment to Bahrain in readiness for a last-minute approval to allow it to compete.
By all accounts, Stefan GP has looked a far more serious prospect at securing an entry, but its fate lay in the hands of the FIA being willing to approve its last-minute entry request.
Stefan GP had also done itself no favours by repeatedly criticising the FIA’s selection process – not a wise thing to do when you’re trying to curry their favour! – and then criticising the USF1 operation for scuppering a merger bid with it.
The FIA has, perhaps, had the final laugh and published a final twelve-team entry list for the 2010 F1 season.
The USF1 team’s entry has been removed, with a notation at the bottom stating the team had “that they will not be in a position to participate in 2010".
Furthermore, the FIA added that no replacement could be considered so close to the start of the season.
"Having considered the various options, the FIA confirms that it is not possible for a replacement team to be entered for the Championship at this late stage," the FIA said.
"In the coming days the FIA will announce details of a new selection process to identify candidates to fill any vacancies existing at the start of the 2011 season."