AUGUST 25, 2009

Campos and Petrov

Adrian Campos was supposed to name his drivers during the Valencia weekend but he was unable to do so. The latest stories suggest that this was because the team's planned number one driver is Pedro de la Rosa - who is currently McLaren's test driver. He is believed to be waiting to see if Epsilon Euskadi gets an entry. This is entirely logical as Campos is committed to run Cosworth engines and Epsilon is likely to arrive with a much more competitive Renault deal (there will be some of the French engines available when Red Bull Racing announces its planned switch to Mercedes-Benz).

The word in F1 circles is that the Cosworth engine is not going to be very competitive. Designed several years ago, it is heavier and less fuel efficient than the current generation of engines and while this can be improved upon in the mid-term, it is not going to happen before the start of the 2010 season. It is reckoned that because there will be no refuelling next year, Cosworth cars will have to carry an additional 18kg of fuel. This will mean that the designers will have to build bigger fuel tanks and this will effect both the weight distribution of the cars and the handling. The result of all this will be that the cars will use their tyres less efficiently than the existing teams. Engineers from rival teams calculate that this will cost the three new Cosworth teams around three to four seconds a lap.

It is whispered that Campos has found the support of Telefonica, which was a sponsor of Renault until the start of 2007. The Spanish telecommunications giant then moved its support and became the title sponsor of the European GP. There is also talk of support from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), the second largest bank in Spain behind McLaren sponsor Santander. The bank has recently focused on overseas expansion, notably in Asia. Thus an F1 sponsorship makes a lot of sense. In addition there have been stories of a sponsorship involving El Corte Ingles, a highly diversified company, best known for its department stores. The company is also looking to expand internationally.

The latest rumours say that the second Campos seat would likely go to Russian Vitaly Petrov, who has been racing in GP2 in recent years with Campos's team (which is now owned by Alejandro Agag and renamed Addax). The 24-year-old Russian seems to have plenty of money behind him, although the identity of his sponsors is not really clear. He is rumoured to have as much as $15m to take to a Formula 1 team and, of course, the F1 world is keen to get more Russian involvement in the sport, as it is a country which has potential for many of the F1 sponsors.