The thrusting Stefan GP team took its first backwards step today when it was forced to call off its planned test in Portugal due to a lack of tyres. The team does not have an entry but is hoping that it will be given one soon if USF1 or Campos fails to make it.
Bridgestone, which is in the final year as tyre supplier to F1, is not obliged to supply tyres to the Serbian outfit and according to Stefan GP, it hasn’t come up with 2010 tyres for them to test.
After weeks of pushing hard and issuing go ahead statements, this is the first time Stefan have got some egg on their face. They have been filling the news wires with stories of taking over the Toyota F1 assets, sending containers to Bahrain, hiring ex McLaren designer Mike Coughlan and being in final negotiations with drivers like Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher, both of whom have said that it’s not as serious a relationship as that just yet.
This is Formula 1 and stories like this always seem to have a place, so Stefan pumps them out; talk is cheap and there is a voracious media with a great appetite for stories. It’s very easy to get headlines every day until such time as a boundary is reached. Not testing when you said you were going to test is such a boundary.
Interestingly Bernie Ecclestone is a big backer of this Stefan GP bid and an influential figure, yet a supply of tyres was not forthcoming.
Meanwhile I sense a growing lack of patience over USF1’s situation from within F1. Having asked to be allowed to miss the first four races of the season, although some argue that they merely enquired about the possibility, there doesn’t seem to be much sympathy for them, nor much belief that they will get a car out in the foreseeable future.
The FIA has made it clear in a statement recently that, “From a sporting and regulatory point of view, each Team that has registered for the Championship is obliged to take part in every event of the season. Any failure to take part, even for just one Championship event, would constitute an infringement both of the Concorde Agreement and the FIA Regulations.”
As regulator of the series, the FIA has the responsibility to act in the interests of the series, so if there is a belief that the team may make it, if granted a dispensation, that could happen.
However if major doubts exist as to the viability of one of the competitors and another appears to be viable, particularly if it has the backing of the commercial rights holder, then the way is clear for the original entrant to lose his entry.
Time is running out.