Archive for the ‘Teams’ Category

Ferrari hints at a return to Le Mans

June 13th, 2009 No comments

Ferrari F430, Le Mans, 200960 years after the first Ferrari won Le Mans, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo waved the French tricolour to start the 77th Grand Prix of Endurance at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

In 1949, Luigi Chinetti practically single handedly won the race behind the wheel of a Ferrari 166 MM, Spider/Barchetta Touring, driving for 22 out of the 24 hours.

It is a race Ferrari won 9 times between 1949 and 1965 and this year there are 10 Ferrari F430 GTs competing in the GT2 category (the biggest number of cars of the same make) – but no works Ferraris.

Naturally, with such a historic connection to Le Mans and all the talk of Ferrari withdrawing from Formula One, people are wondering about a return to the 24 Heuers Du Mans for Ferrari.

Di Montezemolo spoke to the press after a lap of the circuit in a Ferrari California with Jean Alesi behind the wheel:

A Ferrari at Le Mans? Why not?  If we should not race in Formula 1 anymore this would be an option: obviously not with a car with a Diesel engine, but maybe with a hybrid, who knows.

In this race you can really see the values of competition in the areas of sports and technology, but I have to say again that the life, the heart and the soul of Ferrari are with Formula 1.  This year, also because of the rules we can call “grey”, it doesn’t go too well, but we will never give up.

Where we will be in 2011? For sure this situation will be resolved somehow: we will race in a Formula 1 with characteristics we want to keep or there will be some sort of alternative.

It’s true that many years have passed since the last overall win of a Ferrari in this race and I have a dream, which is also a wish, to see sooner or later an official car starting in the race.

Image: Ferrari

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New Formula One Teams

June 8th, 2009 No comments

Jack Brabham getting airborne at the Nurburgring's FlugplatzBrabham has become the latest hopeful to submit an entry for the 2010 Formula One World Championship.

Last Thursday, the new team released a statement announcing its application as a ‘cost cap Formula One team’ for 2010.

This brings to 10 the number of new teams that have announced their intention to compete in the Championship next year.  Of the current F1 teams only Williams and Force India have signed up unconditionally while the other FOTA teams submitted a joint application with a number of conditions attached.

The FIA is due to announce the approved list of competitors for 2010 on June 12 and with space on the grid for only 13 teams next year not everyone who wants to race is going to make the cut.

Here’s a quick rundown on the new entries.


The new entry using the famous Brabham name is not the same team that Australian Jack Brabham founded in 1960 and went on to win 2 Constructors’ Championships and 4 Drivers’ Championships.  In 2008, German tool company Formtech bought the assets of Super Aguri when it went into administration.  Formtch’s owner, Franz Hilmer, intends to run the new team from Super Aguri’s old Leafield facilities.

Hilmer claims he owns the rights to Brabham Grand Prix Limited, a claim that seems to be disputed by the Brabham family.  A statement issued by Brabham Enterprises Limited says:

Sir Jack Brabham and the Brabham family have expressed their surprise at the recent news reporting that an entry has been submitted for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship by Formtech with the intention of operating as Brabham Grand Prix Limited.

The family would like to make it clear that they are in no way involved with Brabham Grand Prix Limited and received no consultation regarding the company’s plans to resurrect their historic name in Formula One.

The family is taking legal advice and will take necessary steps to protect their name, reputation and its goodwill.


Founded in 1984 by David Richards, Prodrive started out running rally cars for Porsche, MG and BMW.  In 1990 Prodrive began a successful partnership with Subaru going on to win three World Rally Championships.  Prodrive has also been successful in sports car racing, first with Ferraris and later in collaboration with Aston Martin.

David Richards has previous Formula One experience as team principal of the Benetton and BAR Formula One teams and in 2006 Prodrive was selected to compete in the 2008 Formula One World Championship, however a protest against the team’s planned used of customer cars resulted in Prodrive pulling out of Formula One.

It is expected the team will rebrand as Aston Martin in 2012.


Lola is another team with a long racing history.  Started in 1958, Lola was one of the top chassis suppliers for sports car racing in the 1960’s.  In the 1980’s and 90’s Lola built cars for the Group C racing series and also produced cars for Le Mans-style racing.

Lola’s first entry into Formula One was in 1962, supplying the Mk4 to the Bowmaker-Yeoman Racing Team.  In 1997 Lola entered Formula One as a constructor in their own right.  Pressured into competing a year before they were ready, the team only turned up for two Grands Prix and failed to qualify at either.  Lola went into receivership shortly after and was bought by Irish millionaire Martin Birrane.  Since then Lola has produced chassis for IndyCar, Formula 3000 and A1GP.


There had been rumours about a new US based F1 team for some time before USF1 was officially announced in February.  Run by engineer Ken Anderson and F1 journalist Peter Windsor the team is based in Charlotte, North Carolina with a second European base in Spain.

USF1, or USGPE, plans to promote itself as ‘Made in America’ using American technology and, if possible, American drivers.

In April, Windsor revealed that the team are looking at using the standard Cosworth V8 engine.

N. Technology

N.Technologywas created to manage the worldwide official sporting activities of the Fiat Auto Group, designing, manufacturing and racing touring cars.  The team finished third in the World Touring Car Championship in 2005, 2006 and 2007 with Alfa Romeo.

N.Technology also designed and produced the Formula Master single-seater.

Team Superfund

Experienced F1 test driver Alex Wurz will become principal of the new Team Superfund.  Wurz drove for Benetton for three seasons before becoming McLaren’s third driver.  He replaced Juan Pablo Montoya due to injury in the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix where he finished fourth, eventually being promoted to third when both Honda drivers were disqualified.  He returned to a full-time race seat in 2007 with Williams but retired at the end of the year and is currently test driver for Brawn GP.

On the move into management, Wurz told Autosport:

I was always interested in going into team management, even when I was racing in F1.

Team Superfund is financed by the investment company’s Austrian owner, Christian Baha, and it is understood the team would prefer to align themselves with an existing team, based in the UK, rather than build everything entirely from scratch.  Wurz:

While personally I wouldn’t want to end up as a pure customer team for years to come, we would prefer to work with an existing team to begin with.

The team plan to use the spec Cosworth engine.

Epsilon Euskadi

Spanish racing team, Epsilon Euskadi is the only major motor sport team from the Basque Country.  Team principal Joan Villadelprat has been involved in Formula One for over thirty years, working with teams such as McLaren, Ferrari and Benetton.

BMW Sauber driver Robert Kubica won the World Series by Renault Championship with the team in 2005.

Villadelprat says the team’s F1 entry for 2010 is different from those of the other new entrants:

The difference between ourselves and other people is that, first, we have a project that’s different from everybody else’s, with a social output, which is what Max Mosley is looking for. We have the mechanics’ school, the engineers’ school, the lower categories, from karting, Formula Renault 2.0 and the World Series.

I’m not sure if Formula One needs a training company (isn’t that what the junior formulas are for?) but the team has financial backing for four years and they are planning to build their own chassis.  Villadelprat:

We are building everything in-house. We have made the investment, something not everybody has, to be able to build everything in-house. This is a new team, built from scratch. I just want the opportunity to be able to produce a good programme.

Campos Meta 1

Spaniard Adrian Campos raced for Minardi in 1987 and 1988, contesting 21 races but only finishing two.  He had more luck in Spanish Touring Cars, winning the Championship in 1994 before going on to form the Campos Grand Prix team.  Fernando Alonso raced for Campos in the 1999 Spanish Euro Open MoviStar by Nissan series.

Campos entered GP2 when it was launched in 2005 and in 2008 won the Teams’ Championship before Adrian Campos sold his stake in the team which was then renamed to Barwa Addax.  Campos Racing is also involved in Spanish Formula 3.

The team haven’t revealed much detail about their F1 application but Spain’s Marca paper has reported that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is involved.


British Formula Three team Litespeed has announced a deal with current Lotus owner, David Hunt, to use the historic Lotus name if their F1 application is successful.  Litespeed team principal Nino Judge said:

Team Lotus is synonymous with great British engineering and formula one innovation, which easily demonstrate why ex-Lotus personnel would want to bring this championship-winning name back.

The ex-Lotus personnel he refers to include former Lotus driver Johnny Herbert.  Ex-Force India Chief Technology Officer, Mike Gascoyne, is also involved in the new team.

Like Brabham, though, the new Team Lotus won’t be the same team started by Colin Chapman in the 50s and went on to win 7 Constructors’ and 6 Drivers’ Championships.


March Engineering was founded in 1969 by Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd.  The team was only moderately successful in Formula One, claiming three victories in 207 races, but managed to win the Indianapolis 500 five times in a row from 1983 to 1987.

March also saw success in Formula 2, Formula 3 and sportscar racing before it was wound up in the 1990s.  The company is now owned by the chairman of Swindon Town Football Club.

According to Autosport, the team has nominated Cosworth as its engine supplier.

Aston Martin to enter F1

May 29th, 2009 No comments

Aston Martin LMP1There are reports that David Richards’s Prodrive team will lodge an application today to race in the 2010 Formula One World Championship.

Initially racing as Prodrive, the team will become Aston Martin in 2012.  The last time Aston Martin competed in Formula One was in 1960 where the team raced the beautiful but uncompetitive DBR4.

The new team is expected to have close links with McLaren.  Prodrive had intended to compete in the 2008 World Championship using a chassis supplied by McLaren but a legal challenge from Williams which banned the use of customer cars meant their entry for 2008 was withdrawn.

With room for 26 cars on the grid in 2010, it looks like there will be more team applications than places available.  USF1 and Campos Racing have lodged applications already and a number of other teams are also expected to apply.  It will then be up to the FIA to decide which teams will compete next year.

The Prodrive application is a strong one, though.  They have funding from Middle East backers and Richards has previous experience as team principal of the Benetton and BAR Formula One teams.

Update: Prodrive have submitted their application.  In a press release on the team’s website, David Richards says:

We are very appreciative of the support we have been given in putting together our entry, not least by both the FIA and FOM. With the help of Dar Capital, in raising the finance, coupled with our understanding of the latest proposals to assist new teams, we now feel the conditions are right to formally request the FIA for an entry.

The level of next year’s cost cap has risen substantially since we originally considered entering. However everyone appears committed to major reductions in future years and when one takes into account the transition proposals for new teams we are confident that we now have the opportunity to be both commercially viable and competitive. As we have said all along, we don’t want to be in Formula One just to make up the numbers.

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Williams suspended from Teams Association

May 28th, 2009 No comments

Patrick Head and Sir Frank WilliamsTen months.  That is how long the unprecedented unity among the teams in Formula One lasted.

A series of meetings in Monaco over the weekend culminated in a letter from FOTA to FIA president Max Mosley asking for the new 2010 regulations to be revoked.

The letter claimed all the teams were unified in asked for the existing rules to be retained and for the teams to work on further cost reductions next year, as Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali explained:

What we have asked is basically to go back to the rules of this year, the 2009 rules, and then see together what we can do in order to make changes for next year.

Then on Monday morning, Williams announced that they had lodged their application with the FIA to race in the 2010 Championship.

On Wednesday, the Teams Association decided temporarily to suspend Williams F1 from membership of FOTA.

It’s not really surprising that Williams has decided to commit to 2010.  Unlike teams such as Renault and BMW, Williams is a true independent racing team.  Formula One is their whole reason for existence.  They aren’t bank rolled by a billionaire like Force India or Red Bull / Toro Rosso, either.

Team boss, Sir Frank Williams:

As a racing team and a company whose only business is Formula One, with obligations to our partners and our employees, submitting our entry to next year’s championship was unquestionable.

Sir Frank also highlighted a contractual obligation which seems to be what Bernie Ecclestone was hinting at when he said he expected Ferrari to honour their contract:

In addition, we are legally obliged under our contract with FOM and the FIA to participate in the world championship until the end of 2012.

The deadline for applications to be received for the 2010 Championship is Friday with the FIA due to release details of the entry list on June 12.

So far only Williams, USF1 and Campos Racing, to be known as Campos Meta 1, have lodged applications for 2010 but it is starting to look likely that a compromise deal will be done where a budget cap of €100m will be introduced in 2010, falling to €45m in 2011.

Image: Williams

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Honda is saved

March 6th, 2009 No comments

Brawn GPAfter months of speculation, rumour and no comment an official announcement has finally been made that the Team Formerly Known As Honda has been sold to Ross Brawn and will be named Brawn GP.  The name is still subject to approval by the FIA but at least there is no ‘F1’ in the name so Bernie shouldn’t object.

As suspected, the team will use Mercedes-Benz engines and will retain Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello as drivers.  Bruno Senna, the nephew of three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna, had been rumoured to be signed by the team but with so little time before the first race in Melbourne Ross Brawn clearly wanted two experienced drivers:

I am delighted that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will form our race driver line-up for the 2009 season.  The vast experience and knowledge that both drivers bring to our team will prove invaluable as we aim to get up to speed in the shortest possible time to be ready for the first race of the season in Melbourne on 29 March.  In what will be their fourth season together, their experience with our team in Brackley, our systems and our engineers, will prove a real asset.

Brawn GP are scheduled to conduct a shakedown of the new car on Friday before testing  in Barcelona between 9-12 March and in Jerez from 15-17 March.

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