FIA opens up new F1 entry process for 2016-’17

The FIA has opened up an F1 entry process inviting new teams to participate in the World Championship as early as 2016.

The move comes on the heels of the recent F1 Strategy Group meeting after which the governing body referred to the sustainability of the sport, which meant trying to ensure that there are enough teams around in the future.

Usually a “call for expression of interest” comes in response to the existence of a genuine candidate who has already been in contact, as was the case with Haas, when a process was opened on December 13th 2013. That also attracted the Romanian FRR/Forza Rossa project, which subsequently stalled.

This time the deadline for expressions of interest is June 30th, with full applications due by September 1st and a result by September 30th. That schedule is some seven months later than last time around.

It’s obvious that in normal circumstances such a timetable would make it absolutely impossible to compete in 2016 – assuming that teams are building their own cars from scratch. Thus it remains to be seen what the FIA’s intentions are in this case, and whether this is actually a first move towards customer cars. If so then the schedule could probably just about be achieved, especially if it involved an existing team from another area of motor sport.

An alternative is that someone is planning to “do a Haas” and get as close as possible to a customer car under the current rules, which means buying everything from another team but making their own chassis and bodywork. If that is the case the planning must already be well under way.

It’s worth noting that Ron Dennis was behind the push for customer cars in the Strategy Group meeting, and that McLaren recently asked ART’s GP2 team to switch to a livery that matched the F1 cars. ART is currently running McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne, and Honda protege Nobuhara Matsushita.

After the customer car plan emerged co-owner Nicolas Todt recently told this writer: “I don’t have any particular comment to make regarding what has been announced. Entering F1 is however something that ART could consider, but only if it makes real sense to us, and therefore if all the pieces of the jigsaw are there.”

The FIA statement said: Having due regard for the sustainability and future success of the Formula One World Championship, the FIA has opened a new selection process to identify a candidate team to participate in the Championship from the start of the 2016 or the 2017 season.

The overall long-term interests of the Championship will determine which candidate is selected.

The precise terms of this selection process, together with the applicable selection criteria, deadlines, legal requirements and other conditions, will be communicated to candidates who have registered a formal expression of interest with the FIA’s Secretariat before 5pm CET 30 June 2015.

The application process will commence with those who have registered an expression of interest before the aforementioned deadline (late applicants will be admitted only at the FIA’s discretion).

All applicants will be expected to undergo thorough due diligence. By way of indication only, the applicable selection criteria will include:

a) the technical ability and resources of the team
b) the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the Championship at a competitive level
c) the team’s experience and human resources
d) the FIA’s assessment of the value that the candidate may bring to the Championship as a whole.

By way of indication only, the FIA anticipates that full applications will need to be submitted by 1st September 2015, leading to a decision on 30 September 2015.

In the event that no applicant is considered suitable by both the FIA and the commercial rights holder, no additional team will be selected.

The last F1 entry tender was in 2013:


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Helmut Marko: Verstappen was “fantastic” in Monaco

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has praised Max Verstappen’s performance in Monaco, and says that Romain Grosjean was also at fault in the collision that ended the Dutchman’s race.

Monaco rookie Verstappen was badly delayed by a long pit stop, but he was still able to show real savvy and aggression with some good passing moves before the controversial incident with Grosjean earned a grid penalty for Canada.

“Max was fantastic,” Marko told this writer. “Unfortunately he had this bad pit stop. It was good when he followed the Ferrari [of Sebastian Vettel] and overtook Bottas. You saw what potential is there.

“I would say the crash was a racing incident, and Grosjean was involved as well, he was moving over when he already saw that Max was there.”

Marko was also pleased to see RBR drivers Dany Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finish fourth and fifth, especially after such a frustrating start to the season for the Russian.

“Both drivers did very well. It was a good co-operation for Kvyat to let Ricciardo past, and then he gave it back when he couldn’t get by. I think Ricciardo would have needed two more laps and there was a chance on Hamilton.

“It was the first weekend without any troubles for Kvyat, and there he showed what he can do.”

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Lotus: Verstappen was “silly” in clash with Grosjean

Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane is adamant that Romain Grosjean did nothing wrong prior to being hit by Max Verstappen at Monaco’s Ste Devote corner.

The stewards decided that the Dutchman was at fault, handing him a five-place grid penalty, but he has since claimed on Twitter that he was “brake tested” by Grosjean.

“It was fairly clear,” Permane told this writer. “Verstappen did a bit of a brainless move. It was very obvious from the video. Romain doesn’t move, or he moves a little bit, and you are allowed to move a little bit, but it’s not like he’s wavering all over the track. He’s not braked early or anything like that. It’s very clear that Verstappen’s just been silly.”

Permane has that Grosjean braked 5m later than on the previous lap, and that the stewards acknowledged that evidence when penalising Verstappen.

Although Grosjean was able to continue his subsequent pace was compromised by the incident: “It damaged the floor a little bit, but he was hit fairly square-on on the wheel, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. He was also on very worn soft tyres that had cooled down after the safety car.”

Another disappointment for the team was the early retirement of Pastor Maldonado, who had made Q3. The Venezuelan was in brake trouble even before Verstappen’s successful pass at Ste Devote.

“Pastor had a hydraulic leak, which manifested itself straight away as braking problems, and we retired him because we were worried about the safety of the braking system. He was having to brake very early and had a very long pedal.”

Meanwhile Permane believes that both Canada and Austria will play to the strengths of the E23.

“We should have had both cars in the top 10, we thought we would struggle a little bit more than that. We should have come away with a point and a bit of damage limitation, but we’re pretty confident that the next races will be pretty strong.

“Canada is about straightline speed, which we have in abundance, and it looks like we have good slow speed. The engine performance will help us in Canada and Austria. I think we can be reasonably competitive everywhere.”


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Max Verstappen: “Next time we will get those points we deserved…”

Max Verstappen says he will come back stronger after the frustration of his Monaco accident and the subsequent five-place grid penalty for the Canadian GP.

The Dutchman took to his Instagram account tonight to tell his side of the story.

“Was an eventful race last week,” he wrote. “Showed good pace during the race with some overtaking in Monaco! After an unlucky pitstop I was charging through the field before I got brake tested and had a hard crash into turn1!

“Anyway those things happen and will make me stronger! Next time we will get those points we deserved… Even though we have a penalty. I know what to do for the upcoming races…”

He then added: “Just came back from the physio. Everything back in place and ready to go again. Canada will be great for some overtaking again.”


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Eric Boullier: “It’s good to get points on merit…”

Jenson Button’s eighth place in Monaco was a small but significant landmark for McLaren Honda as it represented the first points for the team after its difficult start to the 2015 season.

Team principal Eric Boullier said it was a boost for the staff but conceded that there is a long way to go.

“It’s just a reward for the hard work for the people of McLaren Honda,” Boullier told this writer. “It’s good to get points on merit. Obviously Monaco was a track that suited us, so there’s nothing to get excited about, but it’s showing some progress.

“Obviously I would have loved to have had both cars in the points, which was possible, and that would be even better, so there’s an investigation to understand what happened to Fernando. There are some positives out of the weekend, even if we are not where we want to be, it’s always the same story. But one milestone done, which was to get the points.”

Boullier admitted that reliability remains a concern: “We are pushing hard, so that’s why.”

The Frenchman believes that after Montreal – where straightline speed is paramount – the latest updates will start to pay off.

“We keep pushing, we keep improving every race. There is now more visibility about the performance coming for the next races, so it’s just encouraging. I think Canada will be a difficult one, but from Austria is should be better.”

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Nico Rosberg: “I was sure that he would win it…”

Nico Rosberg says he believed that Lewis Hamilton would still win the Monaco GP even after his late pit stop dropped him to third.

Before the restart the German assumed that Hamilton’s fresher tyres would enable him to get by both Sebastian Vettel and himself over the closing laps of the race.

“At that time I still thought Lewis would win,” said Rosberg. “Because coming out with fresh supersofts, [while] we were on stone cold, 40 lap old or whatever hard tyres, which was going to be a massive mission not to hit the wall with after the restart, because it felt treacherous out there. So I still felt he was going to come through, and it was going to be a big battle I thought, and I was sure that he would win it. But f course I went for it, the temperature came back quick, and I could do some good lap times, so I was just pushing.”

Nico admitted that initially he didn’t realise what was going on when Hamilton pitted.

“For me stopping wasn’t really on my mind at all, because it was just a couple of laps to go, so I didn’t consider that at all. I was then very surprised to see the safety car and not see Lewis, it was a big surprise for me, I was like where the hell did he go?

“Then I saw wheelbanging [in my mirrors]. It seemed to be like wheelbanging under a safety car fighting for position behind me, between a Mercedes and a Ferrari. I’m like what the hell is going on there? Until I figured out what was going on.”

He admitted that he had mixed feeling about winning the race through a team mate’s misfortune.

“It’s mixed, it is the way it is. Lewis did a great job, he deserved to win. I’m very well aware of that. I feel for him also, because it’s a horrible way to lose a race like that. On the other side a win is a win, and I’ve learned that in sports it’s such a big factor is luck, and all these things play a role. I’ve learned t just take it, because winning Monaco is winning Monaco, and it’s just awesome.”

Asked about his gracious attitude to his team mate he added: “It’s just how I feel. I have a lot of space for empathy towards him, because I know how horrible the day is for him after such a strong weekend for him, and then to lose it right at the end like that, that really sucks. So I have a lot of capacity for that, so I do feel that.”

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Toto Wolff: “We got the maths wrong…”

Mercedes has admitted that it simply got it wrong when it brought Lewis Hamilton in for a late pit stop in Monaco, handing the win to team mate Nico Rosberg.

The situation developed after Max Verstappen’s accident triggered a safety car, which was quickly changed into a real safety car.

Watching a big TV screen, Hamilton thought that his pursuers Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel had pitted behind him, when it fact they hadn’t. Assuming that they would have fresh rubber and be right with him at the restart he expressed his concerns about his own tyres to the team.

The strategists were guided by data that told them there was a big enough gap for Lewis to pit and get out still safely in front, but the numbers were wrong by a few seconds – and that proved to be the crucial difference for Lewis.

“The simple answer is we got the maths wrong,” said Toto Wolff. “We thought we had a gap which we didn’t have when the safety car came out, and Lewis was behind the safety car and the calculation was simply wrong.

“It was the team’s decision. We are all in this together, we make decisions together and it is not one person to blame and we win and lose together and that is clear. In Monaco you have no GPS and this makes the whole exercise more difficult, so this is why we got it wrong when we switched from the virtual safety car to the safety car.”


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