AUGUST 5, 1996
New boys - where are they?
THE list of teams planning to enter F1 in 1997 is beginning to thin out as the financial realities of Grand Prix racing begin to sink in.
The Dome-Mugen project looks to be in trouble with the planned mid-summer tests in Europe having been canceled. MarcoÊApicella, the team's driver, was at the Michigan Indycar race recently and is one of the drivers tipped to replace the late Jeff Krosnoff at Arciero Wells Racing.
The Durango team has delayed the arrival of its F1 chassis because it is having difficulty finding an engine with which to compete. With existing F1 teams also scrambling around for engine deals, it is unlikely that Durango will make it in 1997.
DAMS's hopes for 1997 have long since faded away, and the withdrawal of Elf from F1 will not help Jean-Paul Driot's cause in the future.
Lola's F1 plans remain - for the moment - a mystery. Rumors in Italy say that there will be an announcement in the first week of September, but we understand that there will only be an announcement if two deals currently being discussed fall into place - one with an engine manufacturer and the other with a big sponsor. The longer the delays in these negotiations the less likely it is that we will see a Lola F1 team in 1997. Designer Chris Murphy is currently doing most of his work on a Lola GT sportscar.
The Supernova team - which continues to do exceptionally well in Formula 3000 - seems to be turning away from an F1 plan. Team boss David Sears did consider buying into the Arrows team before it was taken over by Tom Walkinshaw, but now seems to be looking more to Indycar racing.
Stewart Grand Prix looks, therefore, to be the only new team we can expect to see in F1 next season, so the F1 grid will remain much the same size as before, depending on whether or not Forti survives the next couple of months.