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Stefan GP takes one step back, while F1 loses faith in US team
Stefan GP takes one step back, while F1 loses faith in US team
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Feb 2010   |  10:08 pm GMT  |  171 comments

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.

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As a long time F-1 fan and an American I’ll say this. As much as we would like to see USF1 succeed at some point in time you’ve just gotta make a call. For what ever reason, and one has to think it has to do with a lot more than sponsorship, it just isn’t gonna work out.

Note to Ken & Peter:

We appreciate the effort, it isn’t going to happen. Stop embarrasing us and withdraw until you can be REALLY ready and reasonably competitive.


Stunning analysis, Buck. You sure have all us Americans figured out. Please work on your grammar & proof read your reply before you post it, so the rest of us, including the Americans you so love, can try to understand what the hell you are saying. I’m glad Canada is getting their GP back. It should have never been removed from the calendar. I’m also glad that the USA throttled Canada 5-3 the other day. We’re taking gold in your backyard.


I find it a little odd that Stefan GP couldn’t get tyres from somewhere… Didn’t Ferrari run one of their cars on GP2 rubber to circumvent one of the testing restrictions? As long as it fits and is of a decent performance standard they can at least do some systems checks and make sure the thing points in the right direction.

Of course, it could be that if they’d gone tyres they would have the more embarrasing situation to explain of not having anyone to drive the car…

I must admit I’m surprised USF1 didn’t do a better job of getting things done when they were supposed to be showing how well America can do things. Campos on the other hand I didn’t think should have had a slot at all and either way it’s a real shame Prodrive were refused again…

I really do think that customer cars is the way to go in F1. You can bleat all you like about keeping it on the cutting edge but only so many companies can afford to be on the cutting edge so let the Ferraris, Mercedes and McLarens of this world fight it out for the overall crown but let the smaller teams buy a chassis in and keep the grid numbers up.


James, how big do you think is the damage to Peter Windsors reputation now?

Will he be able to go back working as a TV presenter and journalist when all this is over?

There is a perception that USF1 was telling a lot of Fairy-tales over the last months (one could almost accuse them of lying, Ferrari hints at this in their latest thoughts on this subject).

Surely this is not something a journalist or TV person wants to be associated with?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I came across this video from YouTube with Peter Windsor…it made me laugh a bit!


The first 38 secs are in Spanish and then Windsor starts talking all sorts of technobabble regarding the talent of Jose Maria Lopez…..he conveniently forgets to mention the $$$ that comes with this talent.

PW talks about analysing data regarding the “suppleness of hand and foot movements” and praises JML about the “suppleness of his hand movements”!!

It made me smile quite a bit….he seems to over-intellectualise the art of driving.

He normally goes on and on about friction circles etc. I’m sure that if you asked Alonso or Hamilton or Schumacher about their friction circles they would raise their eyebrows in bewilderment!!

Hmmmmm….I thought that it was all about the lap time at the end of the day.


It’s a shame really that Prodrive, which has the infrastructure in place, were not permitted to enter a team because they did not commit to Cosworth engines, from what I understand. At least Lotus looks like a keeper, so one of the new teams should last. We shall see about Virgin. Soon enough the FIA will have to allow more new teams to apply since USF1 and probably Campos Meta will wash out, leaving only eighteen cars on the grid, possibly twenty if Virgin sticks around.


Without USF1 and Campos, there will be 22 cars on the grid this year.


USF1 will not make it on the grid why bother entering if they can’t build the car and have the money


Why isn’t there any comment from FIA, Ecclestone and Todd on this matter. Did they lost there voice after the mud fight from last months.. Fans want to know whats happening.

( as you know James! thanks for that!! )


… oh my goodness gracious! This is getting hilarious. It is time for the FIA to step in and invite USF1, Campos and StefanGP to enter the application process for the 2011 season.

I am reading stories that Bernie is (1) behind the rescue of Campos and (2) pushing for StefanGP. If so, he is truly making a fool of himself and F1.

It also does not make sense to demand a long term commitment from USF1 while Campos and StefanGP run on Bernie’s pocket money? How sustainable is that?


This is all starting to smell like rotten fish.. come on FIA/ Bernie sort this mess out.

Either USF1 are IN or they are OUT. Same with Campos for that matter. They had time to be up to speed, if whatever reason it didnt work out.. time to move on. Let Stefan have a shot.


I find it unbelievable that Campos and USF1 have been allowed to fall so far behind schedule…

Especially when there were far more experienced teams in the running for the grid slots this year (Lola, Prodrive).

How can Bernie deny entry to Prodrive, they would’ve raced under the Aston Martin banner courtesy of David Richards; surely that would’ve been a good PR story for F1; amidst all the manufacturers dropping out!

James – Do you know of any bad blood between David Richards and Bernie? Anything that may explain this ridiculous situation F1 has thrust itself into.

Or is it more the case of how Ferrari today accused Max Mosley of a “holy war” against the established teams?


Not sure Richards was quite ready at the time the 2010 entries needed to be in, especially engine wise.


Surely someone who was awarded a CBE for his services to motorsport is more trustworthy than an unknown entry.

I was under the impression that Prodrive already had an agreement to use Mercedes engines for the 2010 season; at least that was what was submitted in their entry…

Either way they had the facilities to get a car on the grid… which is more than can be said for Campos GP or USF1.


All fingers point at the FIA. I agree with the Ferrari statements…thanks Mosley.


“USF1 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”

Bet they wish that was the case!

Good luck Stefan GP at least the car should be half decent, and with the secrets ex McLaren designer Mike Coughlan will have at home he can take the car foward!


You’re quoted on here James.


For my monies worth, the FIA needs to get this sorted by the end of the week. No more nonsense. I thought that Todt was going to be a cut and thrust man and get things done without any dilly-dallying.


Just red and article into “Les Echos” (french economic leader newspaper) and I wonder how much this relates to this topic!!!

IMF has just agreed to provide the 3rd part of the April 2009 3 billion euros loan promissed to the Serbian government. This 3rd part is 350 million euros and Serbian government should get it end of March… not in time for the first race!!!!!!!


Stefan, have a car, USF1 have nothing.

This really is the reality of it, and its just a mater of time before they get the entries switched


Glad to see someone here has read the contracts …


I miss you on the race broadcasts very much. I think you and Martin were the best ever. I also enjoy your web site with your tremendous insight. So, with that in mind, I wonder if the following may be worth a few column inches. I don’t expect a direct answer. I am wondering why Bernie seems to not give a rats ass if USF1 doesn’t make it, and has so often been quoted negatively regarding it’s health and future. Since his comments carry some considerable weight, it must work against all that the team is trying to do. He has helped so many others before, and there are a lot of fans and considerable media attention that could be gained. Not to mention the attraction of more US sponsorship.

But, why? He seemed supportive last year. The US is an important market that the remaining manufacturers and many marketing partners do business in the US. Is it the added pressure to hold a race in the US, perhaps at the expense of a more lucrative venue that is at the heart of this? It’s all I can surmise.


He was supportive of it last year, because it’s a good idea. But like anything in F1 you have to deliver…a Japanese driver in a Japanese car is a good thing, but only if he’s winning. Likewise a US F1 team is a good thing for F1, provided it is there, working hard to promote the sport in the US and leveraging the position of a man like Chad Hurley via You Tube to improve F1. That’s not been happening


The season has already started with the official test sessions. Two teams were not ready for testing. Surely it would be unsafe for those teams to go straight into racing, whether it be the first or fourth race, without the cars having been properly tested. Capos and USF1 have already failed to be ready and should be declare out now. A great pity to have only 11 teams when we were expecting 13 but that’s how it has to be now. Although Stefan GP have a car, they also have not done any testing.


Indeed. I think teams should be forced to show up for these tests or face losing their license.


James not sure if you have seen this rather “direct” article on the official Ferrari website:



In this melee, i cannot help but think a two teir F1 would solve much of the issues.

Campos, USF1 and maybe Stefan are hamstrung to some extent by the requirements in place for two cars theire fore doubling up on engines, drivers and all the parafanalia that goes around it.

A privateer team entry with the provision for 1 car and their own points table really apeals to me.

Bernie is far too keen to get more venues/tracks on board than getting any body to race on them!

Brawn was an amazing story in 2009 but lets not get carried away. The season was built on the rear diffuser not the fact that theye were a “new” team. We cannot expect new teams to just hop on board with the current regulations.

I think a major rethink is in order before we have another Andrea Moda on our hands and the embarrasment that it brings to F1.


James, It must be costing Stefan GP a small fortune to be shipping containers here and there on the off chance the FIA can say – yeah go on then! we were wrong about USF1… have a slot?

Firstly the FIA wont want to look stupid that they cant even sucessfully bring new teams into the sport and also why would you spend so much money on trying to attend the first race if you didn’t have any inside knowledge? Bernie must be keen to get them on the grid – otherwise….whats the point???


James, can you shed any light as to how individuals with many years F1 experience can get it so wrong? It’s one thing to “big up” your situation for the media, but the stories from the Campos situation are astonishing. How can someone that has run successful racing teams in the past not be more organised?

I always thought Mike Gascoyne (Lotus) was over rated as the steps he described to set up a team seemed so blatantly obvious why even talk about them. (i.e. work out when the car needs to be running, and available for various tests and milestones and then work back from there to your start point – and get cracking.)USF1 and Campos just seemed to have got some guys in a shed and let them get on with it – and are now wondering why nothing is ready…. Sorry Mike, my belief that F1 would entirely composed of Chapmans, Ferraris and Dennis’s is sorely out of kilter with the reality…


USF1 should be allowed the time to get themselves ready, if that means missing the first four races (four expensive ones in Asia) then so be it.

When the teams were picked there was some surprise yes but you have to remember that things have changed since then. Sponsors who were happy to put in when there was a £40m budget cap are simply not willing to do so now that there isnt one. Simply put £40m will not get you off the back row so why invest if your cars will be at the back all year?

At the time the places were awarded all that was in place was promises, no investment was confirmed because no-one would sign a check without a slot guarenteed, this would have been the same for any new team and ther is no guarentee that Lola or ProDrive (who failed once before) would have done any better.

Stefan GP meanwhile did nto even bother to apply, presumably thinking that they wouldn’t get in. Instead they have simply poached the Toyota chassis and are now trying to bully their way onto the grid. If the FIA allow this to happen then they set a dangerous precedent of teams being able to bypass it’s own selection process, whether the selection was correct or not makes no difference.

I’d rather see 24 cars on teh grid for our raes with USF1 possibly making it to Spain. If they don’t then there should be no replacement and the slot should go back up for grabs for 2011 at which point Stefan should have a good case if they apply properly.

Any otehr course of decision will just led to the FIA looking weak.


Stefan did apply and was annoyed when he didn’t get an entry


Indeed. He actually went to court because he felt he was rejected unfairly. The court didn’t see it his way …


Stefan GP is one big bluff!


Manifacturers have been critisised a lot recently for pulling-out, now it seems that the new small-private teams golden era is not trouble free either. They have struggling even before starting the season. Small teams will come and go all the time.


I have read several of the internet articles and forum posts over the last few weeks regarding USF1, Stefan GP and what the FIA should do regarding each entity.  There has been some articles/posts that were very well written and thought out while others have been just plain laughable.  The difference in the two sides for me typically hinges on facts (or lack thereof) in the message.

For example, I’ve read several messages that imply that the FIA didn’t do their due diligence with the new entrants for 2010.  Specifically . . . USF1 and Campos.  The first question I’d like to ask is what they base this type of statement on.  Is this just the individuals perception or do they have solid evidence and/or concrete facts to back up their comments.  I may have missed it somewhere, but did the FIA actually publish their selection process methods or criteria?  If this type of information has not been provided to us, how can we say that the FIA didn’t do it’s job correctly.  We can speculate all day long about this particular situation, but unless we have the facts, all we are left with is opinion.

There also appears to be a lot of folks jumping on the Stefan GP bandwagon.  Some are going as far to say just give them USF1’s grid slot.  I have to chuckle when I read comments like that.  Other than the fact that this individual has purchased the assets of Toyota and has the 2010 car that Toyota would have run, what else do we really know about this guy (or his team)?  Not much.  Would this team be in it for the long haul anymore than USF1or Campos?  I can’t say yes to that based on what facts I know and I’d bet the FIA couldn’t either.  Plus, can you imagine the number of lawsuits that the FIA would receive from the others that weren’t granted an entry for 2010.  I’d also have to believe that it would be somewhat difficult to just take away a team’s grid slot and give it to another team.  But, I’ve been wrong before.

My suggestion at this point is to sit back, relax, and let this situation play itself out.  It will are sort itself out in due time.  Plus, can anyone truthfully say they are not going to watch the races unless their is a full field of cars?  I can’t say that because their are to many other story lines to follow this season.

Just one man’s observation for what it’s worth.


The main problem with USF1 is Ken Anderson. The facilities and staff necessary for a competitive F1 effort do exist in North America. The problem with the concept was that the guy responsible for getting the cars designed and built is simply not a guy who can deliver at that level. He has had similar failures in the past (the Falcon Indycar chassis), and at this point is the single biggest roadblock for the team. How you get him out of the picture though I don’t know.


Lawyers all over the world must be salivating like mad at the prospects this season will bring.

Time for Bernie and Todt to start tempting the manufacturers back?

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