Zoran Stefanovich has told the German media that negotiations between Stefan GP and US F1 have broken down, which goes some way to explain why his website launched an amazing rant against the American team on Friday night.
As we reported yesterday, Chad Hurley wants to do a deal to safeguard his investment, but Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor have refused to play ball. One assumes that they all now risk being left with a heap of nothing if – as is entirely possible – the FIA goes ahead and cancels the team’s entry next week.
A deal would seem to have been the most obvious way for Stefan and US F1 to make the grid in Bahrain, although clearly to make it work there would have to be serious compromises on both sides.
Yesterday a source who has been in close contact with both camps in recent months confirmed that discussions had been ongoing.
“There is stuff going on between Stefan and US F1,” he told me. “Whether it happens or not… It’s quite complicated. I think you’ll find at the moment that the likes of Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor are trying to block it. That seems to be the stumbling block. If that was clear I think you’ll find that Chad Hurley would reach an agreement with Stefan almost immediately. You don’t know what Anderson and Windsor are telling Chad. They are the guys who are preventing anything from going forward.”
He confirmed that it was not impossible that the Charlotte facility could still have a future use in any Stefan/US F1 link-up. As noted yesterday, a move away from relying totally on Toyota in Cologne could have made sense for Stefan, not least because TMG is not going to design and build a 2011 car for a bargain price.
“That could well happen,” said my source. “It’s all a bit hypothetical at the moment. I think the American base would stay and be used for some things. They’ve got huge manufacturing capability. They’ve got the latest Haas CNC machines. They have got limited composite facilities – they’ve got a small autoclave, not a big one – but it could do stuff, for sure. The one thing that impressed me about US F1 is the resources they’ve got around and about where they are, and which are untapped compared to European suppliers, so to speak.”
It seems that Anderson and Windsor have prevented that from happening.
The next move is probably in the hands of the FIA. Charlie Whiting’s report from Charlotte has by now been digested in Paris. Will the US F1 entry be cancelled on the basis of that report confirming that there’s no tangible evidence of a car – and if the entry process is re-opened, will it be for 2010 or 2011?
In last night’s website rant Stefan said: “If case we don’t receive the chance to compete in Bahrain, and also when some of the teams fail to show up, somebody should be in a trouble explaining what is happen to all of us.”
Allowing for some dodgy grammar, that was a clear dig at the FIA. We now know why Stefanovich had a go at US F1. So has he already heard from the FIA that there won’t be an open spot for 2010, even if US F1 fails?
If he hasn’t been told that, he may well have shot himself in the foot, and that rant won’t have helped his cause.
Meanwhile when I spoke to him yesterday Jacques Villeneuve seemed to be as eager as the rest of us to find out what was going on. He’s continuing his training regime in Austria this weekend with long time physio Erwin Gollner, so he’s ready to rock if the thing goes ahead.
Roll on Monday…