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How the three new F1 teams were chosen
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How the three new F1 teams were chosen
Posted By:   |  12 Jun 2009   |  3:30 pm GMT  |  21 comments

“With the financial reforms to lower the barrier to entry to realistic levels it is good to see such a strong market for new teams, ” said the FIA this afternoon in a second official statement, following on from the announcement that F1 will have three new teams on the grid next season.

“This exercise has demonstrated that the only reason there have been vacancies on the F1 grid for many years was the excessive cost of participation. ”

This is what the FIA has maintained all along was it’s main motivation for introducing dramatic cost reductions and even the budget cap. Judging from the extensive comments on this site over recent weeks, it seems that a lot of people welcome the idea of fresh blood in F1, provided it is stable and has a strong chance of surviving more than a few months in the bear-pit of F1.

The FIA revealed that there were 15 applications for the championship from new teams, some of them were chancers, others deadly serious. From the chatter I’ve heard in racing circles, they have picked ones who have got their ducks in a line, namely Campos and USF1, the only slight surprises for me are the absence of Prodrive and the inclusion of Manor Motorsport, who will operate in partnership with Nick Wirth, formerly with Simtek and Benetton.

FIA consultant Tony Purnell

FIA consultant Tony Purnell

Each team went through a due diligence process overseen by the FIA’s Tony Purnell, the ex Jaguar F1 boss who has been advising Max Mosley on the technical side.

The primary concern was to ensure that adequate funding was in place. USF1 has raised around $60 million of start up capital from US investors in Silicon Valley. There are rumours that one of the founders of You Tube has put money in.

Adrian Campos has always been very good at raising money in his GP2 ventures and he has run a successful team. The team, now called Barwa, is leading the GP2 championship at the moment with Romain Grosjean at the wheel. Campos is also the man who discovered Fernando Alonso, so his credentials are pretty respectable.

So how did the due diligence process work? “We have requested documentary evidence to support all the new teams’ assertions, in particular with regards to funding,” says the FIA statement. “Thus we have been provided with accounts, contracts, multi-year business plans and other supporting material. On the technical side we have asked for a thorough description of their capability, key staff, project plans, capital assets (present and planned for), organisational charts, and so on.

“We have asked to see contracts and letters of intent. This extends to the sponsorship side, where plans and any descriptions of existing relationships are required. In all these aspects we have requested evidence that substantiates any claim in the teams’ plans.

In the background to these evaluations, where key individuals were identified on the funding side, our forensic accountancy advisors have run reputational checks, alongside the checking of factual data supplied.

“Once we had formed an opinion of the serious contenders we asked them to come to London to be questioned face to face by the due diligence team. Then a short summary report on the top five was sent to the FIA President.

The process was conducted with the professional assistance of Deloitte.

Prodrive boss David Richards was surprised and probably rather embarrassed not to have had his entry accepted. Of all the proposed entrants he is the one with the most senior F1 experience and his Prodrive company has succeeded at the highest levels of motorsport in sports cars and rallying. He also has wealthy backers from the Middle East.

But DR has not given up yet. As long as the FOTA teams’ entry remains provisional and a chance remains that one of the teams will not enter, there is a chance that the FIA will go down the reserve list to fill the grid.

“We are naturally disappointed by the FIA’s decision not to include Prodrive in the preliminary entry list for 2010, ” said Richards. “As we believe we have the resources and set-up to be competitive in Formula One and would make a positive contribution to the sport.

“We will wait to see how things develop in the next week, up to the 19th June deadline set by the FIA and we remain prepared and ready to implement our plans should the circumstances allow. As we have seen before, there are quite often many twists and turns in Formula One.”

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21 Comments
  1. howard hughes says:

    How bizarre that Prodrive weren’t included. And what of Brabham, Lotus et al? Something very arbitrary is going on…

    If I were Dave Richards I’d be asking myself why I’m continually trying and failing to get into the party that’s currently the noisiest, and instead start cosying up to the people inside the party who are getting tired of it, and are talking about starting a new one across the street…

  2. PaulL says:

    I am not disappointed that Mr Richards’ team was not granted a place in F1.

    Having won the tender for 2008 ahead of other willing and organised teams, his team let down the sport by failing to organise the resources necessary to compete and withdrawing.

    Campos and USF1, good choices. Now I’d like to see the budget cap eradicated and F1 to remain a survival of the fittest and best. No contrived successes at this level hopefully.

  3. Adrian says:

    James,

    Do you know how things work with Cosworth vis-a-vis the engine freeze. What’s to stop Cosworth coming up with an absolute belter of an engine, while all the other teams are frozen at 2007 technology (or whatever)?

  4. Red Andy says:

    I can see the FIA’s reasons for not including Prodrive. They had their chance for 2008 and they blew it. Once bitten….

  5. john g says:

    that q&a that the FIA put out (where they ask themselves questions and then answer them) is complete generic waffle. the FIA have chosen teams at will (at least being consistent in their random approach to next years F1), and more importantly, *not* chosen other teams based on a lot more than due dilligence

  6. Giancarlo Pleasures says:

    Campos does not own the GP2 team any more, it has nothing to do with him! It’s Barwa-Addax’s venture.

  7. Ed says:

    is Toro Rosso still for sale? if so, i think Prodrive and a few others might make a few enquiries.

  8. Leo Allen says:

    Entirely agree with Howard Hughes. Prodrive seemed to have all the right credentials, ticked all the right boxes: and one is left to wonder whose hand Dave Richards failed to shake warmly enough, or whose daft ideas he failed to fawn over…

    Interesting idea that ‘fittest and best’ equates to who has the most financial clout….. certainly not my concept of ‘ best of the best.’

    As far as I can see, Williams is the only pure racing team left in F1 right now. ‘Pure’ as opposed to either a monster car manufacturer posing as a racing team or a very rich man indulging himself with racing fantasies. Both of those entities can certainly produce the goods. No question. But for either to try, as they always do, to pretend they are a thoroughbred racing team pure and simple is complete hogwash.

    And this whole crisis is really about some old men clinging grimly to power versus other old men running very powerful commercial organisations who do not take kindly to being told their financial power-play is killing a great sport.

  9. Lady Snowcat says:

    Strategically speaking would you rather have Prodrive in the wings to keep the big guys in line… or Manor?….

    Yes I’d rather have Prodrive as my threatened backstop too….

    More Max manoeuvring me thinks…

    Oh, and it’s quite a nice little slap on the wrist to Mr Richards for not taking up his spot in the show a few seasons ago don’t you think?….

  10. onyx says:

    PaulL are you nuts!?Prodrive didnt compete because Mosely/FIA did a u-turn over customer cars under pressure from Williams and Midland.Prodrive had no alternative but to withdraw.Its a joke Prodrive are not in!Its typical of Mosely to go for Wirth and not Prodrive,Lola or Epsilon.Wasnt there some rumours of a link between Wirth and Mosely years ago…..i think we should be told….!!

  11. Could it be – this is a genuine question and we would love some insight into it – that Prodrive has simply blotted its copybook by failing to turn up for its alloted grid slots in 2008?

    That strikes us as the sort of thing that the FIA might take a very dim view of, however good the reasoning about legal action over customer cars looked at the time…

  12. As much as I like Prodrive maybe it’s the supporting documentary evidence on the funding side that put a marker against Dave Richards squad.

    Assuming that the FIA are telling the truth and Deloitte did do some forensic accounting maybe these wealthy middle east backers aren’t what they’re made out to be or something in the business plan just doesn’t add up. It could be the contracts and letters of intent supplied by Campos, USF1 and Manor were more compelling than those supplied by others.

    Without actually seeing the applications we’ll never be able to make a judgement. What I would like to see is the reason for the application been denied…

  13. GP says:

    Right off the bat there are two particular points that are suspicious.

    First is the exclusion – for now anyway – of Prodrive. I would love to hear the FIA’s reasons for not including such a successful organization.

    By accepting the Nick Wirth entry we can rest assured that there will never be unanimous agreement on the kind of rules the FOTA members are looking for. So much for shaping the rules from within. If unanimous agreement was always difficult in the past, it sure looks even more so now. Mosley must think FOTA members are really gullible.

  14. duhhh123 says:

    Could it have anything to do with the Cosworth engine?

    Prodrive were inclined to use Mercedes engines. USF1, Campos, and Manor have indicated they will be using the Cosworth engine, the same engine Max and the FIA were pushing a few months back. Cosworth needed 3 to 4 teams to make their comeback to F1 feasible, if I’m not mistaken.

  15. melonfarmer says:

    What’s the Cosworth-engined teams’ position on KERS? FOTA may have agreed to set it aside, but if this is all about cost cutting and the FIA’s wish to enhance the environment (just stop lugging so much junk to places that don’t have any fans watching), shouldn’t the non battery powered KERS be an option? Flybrid were offering the entire grid a system a year or so ago for a fraction of the manufacturer teams’ alleged spend.

  16. CTP says:

    the chosen 3 were absolutely political. more than anything, they were chose because they could be pussy-whipped into shape by max. richards is too successful in his own right to bend over and take it from mosley, and more aligned with fota than these other jokers.
    as far as prodrive having blotted their copybook by not showing up in ’08: the reason was that the fia couldn’t come up with a stable set of rules (sound familiar?) that would guarantee that customer cars were allowed on the grid for ’09 and future seasons. what did you want them to do; sign up for one season?

  17. polnajung25 says:

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  18. The Kitchen Cynic says:

    That’s a little harsh. He had a perfectly sound business plan until the FIA changed the rules on customer cars. Unlike Toro Rosso he didn’t have a bottomless pit of money to work around the change.

  19. Snail says:

    His team was prevented from entering in 2008 by a protest from Williams about customer cars. He wanted to enter. He was prevented from doing so.

  20. krad says:

    Budget caps will be good as it will provide a level playing field for competition, rather than just whos the richist. You wouldnt think its fair if toyota or ferrari had a 3.5 litre engine where everyone else had a 3 litre. Therefore why should one team be able to spend 400 million odd when the likes of williams stuggle to get together 100 mil

  21. PaulL says:

    My thinking is that the teams with the most funds have the most relevance to the sport and the automotive industry. Whilst funding is necessary for success, it is not directly correlated with it either as Toyota and BAR proved.

    I’d like new teams to achieve something in the midfield, bring in new top drivers, and work their way up the ladder. This potentially stabilises a pecking order for a while so top drivers can end up at top teams and new top drivers can show their real worth in midfield teams to begin with. Budget caps might contrive a situation this year whereby all but one of the best drivers (Button aside) are mired in the midfield.

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