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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.

Brabham

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.

Prodrive

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

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.

USF1

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.

Litespeed

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

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.

USF1 is now USGPE

March 5th, 2009 No comments

Bernie EcclestoneAfter the rumour, hype and, finally, launch of new American Formula One team, USF1, Bernie Ecclestone has suddenly remembered that he thinks he owns the trademark on ‘F1’ and has forced the team to change their name.  USF1 will now be known as US Grand Prix Engineering or USGPE.

This is despite the fact that in 2007 the UK Trademark Registry refused to grant Formula One Licensing exclusive use of the term ‘F1’ as it considered it a generic term.  In fact the only official trademark they own is  ‘FIA Formula One World Championship’.

This is crazy.  Aparently the fact that Bernie owned the trademark to ‘F1’ must have slipped his mind while he was helping the team get off the ground.  He also doesn’t seem to mind other teams using ‘F1’ in their names; Williams Grand Prix Engineering goes under the trading name of WilliamsF1.

But Bernie didn’t stop there.  Not content with going after teams that use ‘F1’ he also wants to own anything that might look like ‘F1’.  It seems if you squint really hard the Force India ‘FI’ logo sort of looks a bit like ‘F1’.  And of course Bernie owns that so it has to change.

Neither of these teams could afford any kind of legal challenge so they have little choice but to cave in to Ecclestone’s demands but this kind of thing does more harm to the F1 brand than good.

I’m not sure which is worse, Brawn Racing or USGPE…

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

USF1 is official

February 24th, 2009 No comments

USF1Officially announced, that is. The much-rumoured new American Formula One team, USF1, was announced today at a press conference on speedtv.com.

There wasn’t much new information to be had and the team is obviously at a very early stage but it definitely looks like it’s going to happen. They have a budget and everything!

Despite earlier rumours, they haven’t made any decision on drivers yet but do intend to have an all American line up even if they would be “relatively inexperienced and rusty”. Two names that were mentioned were Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal. In fact they got Mario Andretti on the phone to plug his grandson Marco saying he would love to see him in an F1 car.

On being based in Charlotte, the team don’t see it as a problem. As Ken Anderson said, a lot of the technology that is used in NASCAR can be directly applied to F1; a wind tunnel doesn’t know if it being used for NASCAR or Formula One and not having a home race shouldn’t be a problem either as they plan to “take the US to F1” rather than try to convert millions of Americans to F1.

As for engines, the team plan to send a proposal to all the manufacturers currently in Formula One with no preference for a particular engine supplier. This seems to go slightly against the all-American, made in USA theme.

So USF1 is here. In name, at least. Now all they need to sort out are drivers, engines and sponsors…

The speedtv videos are embedded below.

USF1 Announcement

USF1 Q&A 1

USF1 Q&A 2

Categories: Teams Tags: ,

USF1 wants Danica Patrick

February 16th, 2009 No comments

Danica PatrickLast week I suggested that IndyCar driver Danica Patrick could be in the running for a seat with the new USF1 team.

The 26-year-old became the first woman to win an IndyCar race when she won at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi in 2008.

Now, according to an Associated Press report, it seems USF1 technical director Ken Anderson is interested in testing her.

To be honest, I would be surprised if they didn’t test her.  She has shown she can win, although winning in one series doesn’t necessarily translate to winning in F1,and the publicity she would attract from being the only woman on the grid would be hard to ignore.

Speaking to the AP in a telephone interview, Anderson said:

She’s great. She gets a lot of press.  I don’t know if it’s something she wants to do. We’d certainly love to test her and go from there.

So it doesn’t sound like Danica is the one driver USF1 are “close to signing” but it definitely puts her in the running.

Image: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Categories: Drivers Tags: ,

USF1: Wild speculation!

February 12th, 2009 No comments

Danica PatrickA formal announcement from the rumoured new Formula One team, USF1, is expected later this month according to the Charlotte Observer.  The two principals behind USF1 are Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor and they plan to promote the team as “Made in USA.”  The car will be US-built and be driven by American drivers.  According to Anderson, the team is already close to signing one driver.

The fact that there is very little information about USF1 (the official website has just a logo and an email address) naturally leads to speculation.  Is now the best time to be starting a new team?  Why start from scratch when you can have Honda for £1?  Why limit yourself to only using American drivers?  And do Americans even care about Formula One?

Assuming the team is on the grid in 2010 what kind of car might we see and who could be piloting it?

The car

The team will be based in Charlotte, North Carolina which has a big NASCAR industry and, according to Anderson, “90 percent of the technology that exists in F1 comes from the U.S. anyway.”  But what about the engine?  I suppose Cosworth would be the most likely choice, possibly badged as Ford.  I can’t see any of the US car manufacturers wanting to develop a new F1 engine in the current economic climate and while Cosworth was originally a British company, it is now owned by the Champ Car World Series owners Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven so it would probably satisfy the “Made in America” requirement.  A Cosworth V10 powered Ford’s Jaguar team before it was sold to Red Bull in 2004.

The Driver

The choice of driver could be controversial.  Americans haven’t made much impact in Formula One since Mario Andretti won the 1978 Championship.  Scott Speed had a largely unsuccessful time at Toro Rosso but he would have to be considered as he is the only American driver with recent F1 experience.

There are other young drivers in the American open-wheel series that are possibilities: Graham Rahal, son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and Marco Andretti, son of 1991 IndyCar World Series champion Michael Andretti and the grandson of  Mario Andretti.  Andretti finished second in the 2006 Indianapolis 500 in the second closest finish in the race’s history.

But a more interesting choice could be Danica Patrick.  Patrick was named the Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season and she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi in 2008.

Patrick has had some criticism of her driving ability and the fact that, like other female athletes, she has been willing to be marketed on her looks.  But Former IRL Champion Tony Stewart thinks she’s got talent.  She can obviously win races and was actually scheduled to test with Honda at the end of last year.   She has said she is keen to move to F1 and after those superbowl ads no team should have trouble attracting sponsorship with her on-board.

Will it happen?

A lot of people doubt whether anything will come of the rumours but I think there’s a good chance the team could be on the grid in 2010 although, if they are,  I’m not so sure whether they will keep the “Made in America” theme for more than the first year.

Image: Sports Illustrated

Categories: Opinion, Teams Tags: ,
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