There is plenty of movement going on behind the scenes this week among the new teams and aspirant teams with the new season starting next week.
Campos is undergoing a name change today and this will be made public shortly. Sections of the Spanish media have suggested that it will be called “Hispania Racing”, in line with the new majority owner Jose Ramon Carabante’s business enterprises.
The team will use the Dallara chassis designed and built for Campos and the Cosworth engines they have already paid for.
Adrian Campos is no longer involved; he was apparently offered an honorary position in the team, but turned it down.
Spanish sources say that Carabante has put €12 million into the team already and following a meeting with Bernie Ecclestone last week was encouraged to invest a further €12 million. Ecclestone has apparently assured him that he will get his investment back. It appears that he may be a saviour/broker figure rather than a long term investor, but time will tell.
There have been a lot of rumours that Volkswagen is in the background of this deal, but there are several problems with this theory. The first is that if VW/Audi group were to come into F1, they would probably start with Red Bull Racing as the energy drinks company has poured many millions of Euros into VW/Audi motorsport programmes over recent years in an attempt to get them to come in. And they are at the cutting edge of F1 design technology. Although Kolles is well connected in Germany and the factory will be based there, there are other teams with a better claim on VW/Audi’s attention at this stage than a team which is using a customer car and is starting from scratch.
The other problem is that there is no point in a manufacturer coming into F1 before 2013 as the engine formula will change totally then, so an investment in a 2.4 litre V8 for only a year or two of racing doesn’t make sense. It works for Cosworth because they had an existing engine they could easily adapt.
The rules for the 2013 engine will probably be specified later this year by the FIA and are likely to be very green and futuristic. Max Mosely wanted the formula to be based on fuel use rather than CCs. Jean Todt has indicated that he wants it to be road relevant. Either way it is likely to be a 1.5 litre four cylinder turbo or something of that kind with a big 120 KW electric hybrid motor, harvesting energy under braking.
The FIA will be sounding out manufacturers and potential manufacturers to see what engine would work best and once the new rules are specified, it is possible to imagine one or two manufacturers coming in if the engine is relavant to the motor industry of the future.
Ferrari launched its first hybrid car today, with a KERS system derived from the F1 programme, so this is clearly the direction of travel.
Meanwhile word is spreading from the USA that the staff at USF1 have been told today that the operation is closing down and the dream is over. Eddie Jordan has stuck his neck out again and said that Stefan will be on the grid in Bahrain, with Jacques Villeneuve in the car. He is acting on an inside tip off and this could be a smokescreen, a bit of tree shaking, but with USF1 collapsing and its driver Jose Maria Lopez in discussions with Campos, it looks like Stefan is making a mighty final push to get on the grid next week. The team has not managed to test yet because of a lack of tyres, but has the Toyota chassis designed for this year and a supply of its engines.
Incidentally the information that former McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan is with Stefan GP is incorrect. There were discussions but Ryan did not join the team. However former McLaren designer Mike Coughlan is there. Also negotiating with Stefan is USF1 investor and You Tube founder, Chad Hurley.
It has been suggested that Bruno Senna is required to come up with some money to secure the Campos seat he signed for some months ago and that Karun Chandhok is being lined up for the second seat.