With the three contenders – Epsolin Euskadi, Villeneuve/Durango and Stefan GP – for the final spot on the 2011 F1 grid having made their pitches to the FIA, now the waiting game begins.
And news – or in one case, a lack of it – seems to give hints as to the prospects of each of the three candidates. Here’s our look at the respective teams’ chances for 2011…
According to the latest reports from Spain, it looks as though Epsilon Euskadi may have a back-up plan in the form of a technical collaboration with the Hispania Racing Team.
Local news agency EFE has claimed that Epsilon Euskadi’s chief Joan Villadelprat is weighing up a merger with the debutant backmarker outfit, and has apparently been in talks with HRT owner José Ramón Carabante.
It is alleged that Villadelprat – whose team owns one of the most advanced infrastructures for motorsport construction by dint of its involvement in the Le Mans Series – has asked Carabante “what Hispania needs, what Epsilon can offer and if there is the possibility of collaboration”.
HRT is in its own state of flux having split from chassis builder Dallara and allegedly in talks over a technical collaboration with Toyota to use its 2010 TF110 chassis, widely rumoured to be very quick, despite never having been raced.
The Pros: Villadelprat is a seasoned F1 pro and his team seems the best organised and funded of the bunch.
The Cons: Could they feasibly throw a project together in the space of a few months if given the green light to go it alone?
Our Rating: 6 out of 10
Villeneuve / Durango
Former champion Jacques Villeneuve’s collaboration with the Durango GP2 outfit was announced very recently, and generally little is known about the operation.
What we do know is that Villeneuve has had a lengthy association with the team’s bosses since his junior days in the Italian F3 championship, and that the team is also seeking the use of the Toyota TF110 chassis/engine package.
More curious rumours have emerged about the outfit, with one being that the son of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, Al-Saadi al-Gaddafi, is reportedly one of the outfit’s backers. Other rumours have suggested that the team could also have the involvement of disgraced Renault figures Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds.
The one major stumbling block for Durango is that it quit this year’s GP2 championship citing a lack of funds. Quite how it thinks it can seriously compete on the considerably more expensive stage that is F1 remains to be seen…
The Pros: The involvement of Jacques Villeneuve, who adds a publicly recognisable face to this outfit.
The Cons: The involvement of Jacques Villeneuve, who is attempting yet another comeback. The lack of detail around its funding, and the shadiness of the characters supposedly involved…
Our Rating: 5 out of 10
The outfit that created huge waves and achieved little during the 2009-10 off-season is set to have another crack at making the F1 grid, but this time it’s actually trying to go about it the right way by lodging an application first.
After its last-minute attempt to join the F1 grid with the Toyota chassis/engine combination failed, Stefan GP engaged in a hostile war of words with failure F1 failures USF1, and the sport’s governing body, the FIA.
Waging war against the very power that holds all of the cards is not smart, and team boss Zoran Stefanovic (pictured) created plenty of ill-will within the paddock when he also announced the signing of disgraced McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlin to the team (who was later edited out of the team’s photo via some dodgy photoshopping!).
In the wake of its rejection, the team revamped its website and proclaimed it had made contact with no less than twelve drivers as possible candidates for the team, although this was discredited by several drivers who refuted having ever had contact with the team.
Aside from redesigning its logo, the website hasn’t had an update since May, and little had been heard from its Serbian HQ of late…
The Pros: There’s certainly no lack of enthusiasm and plenty of investment from the Serbian government.
The Cons: The lack of detail in the entire operation. It also seems to have burned its bridges with almost everyone in the establishment, which won’t help its chances…
Our Rating: 2 out of 10