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…