Villeneuve awaits news on Stefan GP

Three weeks from today the F1 teams will be packing up in Bahrain and preparing their freight for the trip to Melbourne. And yet still we don’t know the exact composition of the entry list for that race.

We do at least know now that Campos Meta will be there, albeit with a pair of Dallara-Cosworths that are likely to be finished in the Bahrain pit garage, and will thus run for the first time on the Friday of the race weekend.

Fortunately all the FIA crash tests were completed in November, so that’s not an issue.  We still await confirmation of the drivers, and it remains to be seen whether Bruno Senna’s meeting with Colin Kolles today leads to an announcement.

Meanwhile the US F1 saga rumbles on. Ken Anderson told the New York Times that he’s still hoping that the FIA will allow his team miss the opening four races and show up for the Spanish GP, but it seems like another desperate attempt to buy time, and the team has had plenty of opportunity to get its act together.

It seems unlikely that the FIA – which recently denied suggestions that teams can miss three races – will waive its own rules. Having said that, the FIA approved the entry, after US F1 passed all tests of due diligence, so there perhaps will be some loss of face if it fails completely. Not to mention a few comments from those whose entries were rejected last June.

The question is at one point does the US F1 entry pass the point of no return? When will Bernie Ecclestone (or Jean Todt) make a call and take appropriate action?

Zoran Stefanovich continues to put his plans in place, but logic suggest the only way he will get in is if Stefan GP formally takes over the US F1 entry and paperwork, rather than slips into a vacancy created by the American team’s failure or withdrawal. The legal fallot of the latter scenario will be extremely complex.

Stefanovich has finally confirmed Kazuki Nakajima’s role in the project, and of course his presence keeps Toyota happy. Jacques Villeneuve says he’s interested, but contrary to what the team boss is saying, he insists that he is far from doing a deal. JV says that most of the talking has been done by third parties.

“I had a chat some time ago with Stefanovich just to find out where everything was at,” he told me on Saturday night. “It was not about everything that has been written recently, it was prior to that. I’m not involved directly with anything.”

However, he admits that the seat could be a competitive one: “If it happened I would be very interested because it looks like a serious outfit. If they are allowed in, seeing how he’s been talking and moving forward even though he didn’t have an entry, he is quite serious in getting the thing going. He’s done more than some teams with licenses.

“The Toyota car wasn’t a bad car last year, and it has been developed. It would definitely be ahead of all the other new cars. Now the problem is they won’t get any testing, they won’t get anything, which is a bit problematic. But a good base is always a good base. So it wouldn’t be a bad proposition – it would be exciting enough to work on.”

Stefan certainly has a strong hand at the moment, and the fact that two cars are sitting in Cologne and waiting to run cannot be ignored. However most of the key Toyota technical guys have left – many of them for Lotus – and that suggests that the package might not have much long term value…

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Villeneuve awaits news on Stefan GP

  1. Jonathan

    With less than 3 weeks to the beginning of the season and no testing allowed thereafter it seems a really long shot to do any damage, even for the x-toyota Stefan……Not sure why they are bothering as it’s likely that they will be hopelessly unreliable, short on parts and probably way off the pace.
    For sure none of the new teams, save for Lotus and perhaps Virgin are gonna make F1 look good.

  2. Gosh, its so bleak – this blooming “fia due diligence” is being made to look so stupid. ” out 2 out of the 3 teams given the original go ahead are looking hopelessly out of their depth!!
    The fact Campos had to bring in a hired hand in kolles says everything.

    Someone just has to make the tough decision and put US and USF1 out of its misery!! its a lame entry. I mean have you seen the speed interview with Anderson and Hurley… Anderson is almost catatonic. no get up and go in him.

  3. Dave

    I think it’s becoming more clear cut that US F1 won’t make the grid in 3 weeks time, so I think the point of interest will be if the FIA manage to negotiate Stefan’s entry in time. Be a shame if Stefan don’t, they have the infustructure, funding and facilities to provide a formula one team that will at least be of the standard of Virgin/Lotus. I don’t think they’ll be slower than those two despite not testing, due to the fact they have Toyota’s data. Having said that, I don’t think Villeneuve will exactly set the world alike, he didn’t ever do that well at BMW Sauber. Be better of trying to steal Lopez off of USF1/Campos, he’ll bring in extra funds as well..

  4. jim

    Any word on how far USF1 has actually gotten?Windsor said @ the 10:40 mark in an interview here:

    http://www.formula1blog.com/2009/11/09/f1b-downshift-6-exclusive-usf1s-peter-windsor/

    that they were starting to build the chassis and suspension parts. That was early November. Any truth to that, or was he full of it even that early on???

    I remember Anderson saying they’d have a roller in November. Did they even get that far and have they done any testing at Windshear?

    If they were lying back then, I could see no reason to think they’re being honest now.
    If they were telling the truth, then how the hell could they not make it?
    Hurley seems willing to invest more $$$ within the sport, so I’d assume he’d have been willing to help out if a sponsor bailed on them.

  5. Jean-Luc

    Lets assume the merger will happen: weren’t all new teams supposed to use Cosworth engines? Stefan intends to use a rebadged Toyota instead. What will be the reaction of those who do use the Cosworth, and those who didn’t get an entry because they didn’t intend to use that engine like Prodrive, N-Technology (and Stefan)?

    • That’s a very good question, and one assumes that whichever way things go, the teams that didn’t get an entry will have something to say about it. We await developments with interest…

  6. scott

    a comment to your tweet, Vitaly Petrov is also not listed in the drivers section of the FIA website……

    • That’s a good point too. I understand the FIA may be producing an entry list as early as tomorrow. I’m not saying that the timing is any more than a co-incidence, but I do know they have seen my Tweet! I believe that discussions over Sauber have been the cause of the delay…

  7. Jean-Luc

    Can you imagine Frank Williams (and others) accept a competitor that uses a former Toyota engine which has had several months of development as Toyota is not under the Concorde Agreement and Fota rules anymore, and Stephan GP isn’t yet?

    • I doubt whether Toyota has done anything outside the freeze in terms of the engines, but certainly the exisiting teams will have plenty to say about the Stefan saga. That may be why nothing seems to be happening at the moment…

  8. Tom Baker

    Awhile back there was a photo circulating of Toyota’s 2010 chassis. I couldn’t tell if it was full sized or a wind tunnel model, but it looked very impressive. Red Bull-esqe noise, beautifully sculpted sidpods…It would be a shame for that car never to see the track.

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