OCTOBER 10, 2007
Prodrive looking for options
Prodrive has admitted that it may not be able to take up its place on the Formula 1 grid next year because the sport cannot sort out its differences are come up with a new Concorde Agreement. The Prodrive entry is being challenged at the FIA International Court of Appeal by Williams which argues that if the 2007 Concorde Agreement is rolled over into 2008 - as is now the plan - then Prodrive caannot use customer McLarens. The delays in the programme, even without the case, mean that McLaren and Prodrive have now agreed that it is too late to go ahead as planned and while Prodrive says it is looking at other options, it is clear that none will be possible short of buying a very old F1 car and struggling around at the back of the grid, which is not what Prodrive had in mind when it made an entry.
This situation was created 18 months ago when the FIA tried to force the existing F1 teams to sign up for the World Championship and thus accept the FIA's new rules packages with the threat that they would be replaced by other teams wanting to break into F1 with customer cars. A number of teams bid for the available 12th team slot and Prodrive was chosen. The F1 teams, however, have never agreed to the customer car idea and as this is enshrined in the Concorde Agreement the FIA cannot insist on anything as everything must be agreed between the different parties involved. This agreement has not been possible and so its has been decided that in order for the sport to have a package in place to meet its commercial commitments the only way forward is to roll on the old agreement for another year. The trouble with this is that if this is the case there can be no customer teams. That means Prodrive is out and that the same problem couldd befall Super Aguri and Scuderia Toro Rosso if the arbitrators of the Concorde Agreement decide that the currents cars are in breach of the agreement.
That will mean that the two teams will lose all their results this year and will have to build their own cars in 2008. It is not clear whether they can do this but with both teams likely to change owners shortly there are possibilities of buying old chassis - although these will not be competitive.
Thus we are looking at a situation in which the sport may lose three teams (two existing and one planned) because of its political arguing.