The FIA has today announced that the application process for teams wishing to apply for the 13th and final slot on the F1 grid is now open and will close on 15 April. This is the slot created by the failure of USF1 to make it this season.
Teams who wish to race in the 2011 and 2012 seasons must submit an expression of interest before then. The FIA will then undertake a process of due diligence. After 2012 there will be a new Concorde Agreement, but clearly any team which is accepted and which signs the existing Concorde Agreement will be part of the negotiation process for the next one.
This promises to be a hard fought and painful process as the teams will be looking for a far greater share of the commercial revenues of the sport than the 50% they currently receive. That negotiation will start at some point in 2011 and will get messy.
According to the FIA’s statement, teams who wish apply for the 13th slot must demonstrate to the FIA,
“(a) the technical ability and resources of the team;
(b) the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation;
(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. ”
The FIA anticipate that formal entries will need to be in by the end of June and they expect to announce the winner in July.
Stefan GP are the most proactive team knocking on the door and it is noticeable how much less bombastic they have become in the last few weeks since they failed to get USF1′s slot in Bahrain. They have stopped putting out messages and have kept their head down, which indicates that they have finally understood how this process works and are serious about being considered for the slot next time.
Prodrive is another team with F1 aspirations, as a vehicle for promoting its Aston Martin brand and there are bound to be others who failed to make the cut last time.
However the process is likely to be more closely scrutinised this time following the failure of the USF1 team, which is known to have greatly irritated the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone. This is also a source of embarrassment for American Nick Craw, one of Jean Todt’s key men in the FIA senior management, who championed their candidacy and must feel very let down by Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor.
Meanwhile today the F1 teams’ association FOTA came out strongly in support of the FIA’s ‘Make Roads Safe’ Campaign. All the F1 teams and their drivers will carry the branding of the campaign, which aims to save around 5 million lives on the roads in the coming years.
This campaign is part of the FIA’s strategy for making F1 relevant to modern society and leveraging it’s enormous communication power via its global media platform.
It is also central to the strategy for keeping Bridgestone in F1, by offering them the chance to be central to the promotion which will come from it.
It’s all about adding value to Bridgestone’s involvement in the sport. Bridgestone is in a very strong negotiating position, with little time left for another company to develop an F1 tyre before the 2011 season.