The race for the 2011 grid has already started

April 28, 2010

USF1 are unlikely to be a 2011 contender

Although it seems like the 2010 season has only just begun, the teams will already be pulling together plans for their 2011 cars. Some of these may already be fairly well advanced, others may be just beginning to look at some core parameters and targets relating to weight, centre of gravity, aerodynamic downforce, drag etc. This also means that if any new entrants are to successfully start the 2011 season, they also need to have, not only the funding in place pretty soon, but also the people and systems to begin the process of designing and manufacturing an F1 car. Now of course there could be one or two shortcuts – such as acquiring cars/designs already produced like the 2010 Toyota designs and even those of the stillborn USF1 Team, who had a place on the 2010 grid but were unable to produce a car in time to race, despite spending something in the order of USD 20 million, much of it coming from YouTube founder Chad Hurley.

With the demise of USF1 the FIA are now inviting new bids to take the 13th place on the grid and also for the position of the reserve 14th place, should anyone else leave F1 – it begs the question as to who in their right mind would want to go to all this effort, just to be put on the reserve list? However it is worth reflecting on the possible candidates based on what happened last year. First can we assume that all current 12 teams will still be on the grid in 2011? Well in general terms the answer has to be yes, although HRT only managed to scrape together a deal at the eleventh hour. For the new entrants for the 2010 grid, the FIA had initially identified nine potential candidates from 15 applicants, these were then reduced to three teams which were included in the FIA entry list published on 12 June 2009, these were Campos (who became HRT), Manor (who became Virgin Racing) and USF1 (who didn’t become anything). However the FIA had said that further due diligence was continuing and in September it was announced that Lotus had been granted the 13th grid place and had therefore become the fourth new team. At that time BMW Sauber had been unsuccessful in getting a place – as BMW had formerly withdrawn and not signed the Concorde Agreement. However following the withdrawal of Toyota at the end of 2009, the FIA had allocated Toyota’s place to BMW Sauber thereby allowing the team to continue in F1.

So for the 2011 grid the FIA had asked for expressions of interest by 15 April 2010, it is not clear as to how many they received, but we do have some public statements by a number of organizations to give us a better sense of the situation. The ubiquitous Stefan Grand Prix have announced their bid for a place on the 2011 grid, the Serbian team will be using the 2010 Toyota cars as a basis for their bid. Both Prodrive and Lola have announced that they will not be putting a proposal forward for 2011. Prodrive cited other priorities (a rumoured World Rally programme involving the new Mini) and Lola stated that they felt there was not enough time for them to put together a competitive entry – which serves as a reminder of the challenge which any start-up would face. Amongst the other hopefuls from last year this leaves Formtech GmbH who were planning to use the Brabham name and the old Super Aguri facilities in Leafield, Oxfordshire, and the Spanish operation Epsilon run by former Tyrrell manager Joan Villadelprat. It must be very unlikely that the USF1 bid will be able to pick itself up again – but stranger things have happened in F1. Whether there are more credible entries that have been received by the FIA remains to be seen. But the one thing that is certain is that the clock is now ticking for 2011 and any new entry needs to start working on their 2011 car pretty soon.

One Response to “The race for the 2011 grid has already started”

  1. Says:

    Don’t forget that Stefan GP would hire Mike Coughlan and Dave Ryan, and some months ago, during Spanish testing in Spain, it was romoured in the paddock that Ferrari would not have accepted the entry :-S

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