As the old season fades from view attention is now on the new teams. Campos Meta team yesterday unveiled Bruno Senna at a ceremony in its native Murcia region of Spain.
He is the first driver to be officially confirmed by one of the four new teams entering F1 next season. Campos is backed by the Murcia region, but is dependent on sponsorship from drivers to secure its place on the grid. Senna has some money from Embratel, but according to Adrian Campos, it is looking less likely that Pedro de la Rosa will get a seat as Spanish sponsors are sitting on their hands at the moment. Vitaly Petrov, who raced against Williams new boy Nico Hulkenberg for the GP2 championship this season, has a good chance of getting the other seat.
“I hope, in a short time, that everybody remembers me for being Bruno and not for my uncle’s surname,” Senna said. “I’ve learned to live with it and although it helped me at the beginning to find sponsors and find contacts, to be a driver you need to have a natural talent.”
Senna says that Campos seems very well advanced with its chassis build programme and has already passed key crash tests. Among the staff it has recruited is Ben Agathangelou, one of the aerodynamics engineers at Jaguar and Red Bull who is very highly rated among people I speak to in F1.
Campos’ target for 2010 is to be the best of the new teams. That is the natural goal of all the new teams and Lotus’ Mike Gascoyne has already said that he believes his team is the most advanced and most likely to head the pack, “We have to be realistic but our aim during 2010 will be to head the group of new entries and continually reduce the gap between our performance and those of the established teams,” he said. Lotus has backing from Malaysian companies to the tune of £55 million, according to the BBC website.
Jarno Trulli is being linked with a seat at Lotus and so is Anthony Davidson, a favourite of many JA on F1 readers. These two would provide enormous experience and pace. Trulli gives the engineers an exact picture of how fast their car will go and Davidson is not only quick, but also a very handy development driver, who knows exactly where Brawn are up to as he has been their third driver and simulator driver this season.
Manor is split in three parts; the race team in Sheffield, the engineering and design in Oxford and the commercial department in Hammersmith, London at Virgin. I’m hearing Lucas di Grassi’s name linked to this team. He won Macau at the wheel of a Manor F3 car and has current F1 experience as a Renault tester. He has proven that he is on a level with the top GP2 drivers, so he deserves a chance.
Interestingly Toyota has made it clear that the intellectual property on its 2010 car design is for sale. It’s too late for any of the new teams to take advantage of that, as most are well down the road with their won designs and builds, but for a well funded team it might be worth looking at what a real state of the art car design looks like and to absorb some of the DNA. Toyota started and ended the 2009 season with a competitive car, one which was equipped with a well evolved double diffuser, which will be a fundamental part of a 2010 car design.
I have a feeling that the difference between the new teams and the existing ones will be of the order of two to three seconds per lap next season. It takes time to come up with a ‘state of the art’ package and that is what even the lowliest existing teams have at the moment. In fact one of the lessons of 2009 is that there aren’t really any ‘lowly’ teams any more. Toro Rosso ended up last, but they won a race in 2008, while Force India made great strides in 2009. Manufacturer backed Renault finished 8th out of 10 with a double world champion in the car!
Final note on new teams, the N Technology law suit against the FIA alleging irregularities in the way the new teams were selected has been thrown out by the court in Paris. The reasons for the judgement will be published soon.