MAY 14, 2009

F1 teams everywhere...

As the Formula 1 world looks to a meeting tomorrow to try to solve its problems, there are more and more people coming out of the woodwork and saying that they will be entering the World Championship next year. It is not clear where all the money is going to come from, but until the FIA looks at the details of the entries this is really not that important. Teams can say what they want and hope that this leads to investors dashing forward and handing over cheques for $60m.

Lola says it will be entering the championship and that the increase in the budget cap from $45m to $60m did force it to re-evaluate the programme but the company now thinks it has what it needs. There is no doubt that the company has most of the facilities that would be needed for an F1 car, including a composite division, CFD, a chassis rig and a half scale windtunnel. The company, which is owned by Martin Birrane, is run by managing-director Andrew Manahan, with Robin Brundle, the brother of former F1 driver and TV pundit Martin Brundle, looking after the racing. This year the company is manufacturing Le Mans Prototypes for the LMP1 and LMP2 classes, is designing a GrandAm car, while there are also projects for Sports 2000, World Junior single seater school cars, plus track day cars and the modern versions of the T70 sport scar. The company is also involved in aerospace, marine, automotive, defence and communications work.

This is rather more advanced than the other team that has announced its plans to enter F1 next year. Litespeed is running a chassis in the National Class of the British Formula 3 Championship. They are using a chassis built by the Italian firm Super Light Cars, a division of the ATR composite company, which has worked with Minardi in F1 in the past, while also doing work for Ferrari and Maserati road cars. It is being raced, without success, by Brazil's Victor Correa. Litespeed is run by two former Team Lotus engineers Steve Kenchington and Nino Judge.

Litespeed says it has done a deal with Mike Gascoyne's asset management group MGI, which will act as technical consultants to the team. Gascoyne is a man who knows how to build F1 cars but Litespeed has given no indication as to where a budget would come from for this. It is possible that ATR, which is based in Colonella, near Pescara, could do the manufacturing work. The company has done much work in recent years with Fiat, indeed, several of its factories were temporarily transferred to Fiat to keep them going after economic problems in 2007, caused by the downturn in the supercar markets.