Neither Toyota nor Sauber on the list, yet
While the talk continues on the future of Sauber team FIA came up with yet another version of 2010 entry list. It is rather confusing reading. On one hand it lists Manor as Virgin Racing (witout any official announcement from either Manor or Virgin), on the other hand the Mercedes GP still features as Brawn GP (with a remark that the team has indicated its intention to change its team name to Mercedes Grand Prix prior to the start of the 2010 season). If the rest of the list is to be believed then Red Bull will retain Renault and Toro Rosso Ferrari engines. Despite some claims from Jaime Alguerusuari that his deal with Toro Rosso has been renewed a while ago there is still a TBA where his name should be…
There are only 12 teams on the entry list. There is an interesting remark regarding Toyota:
Toyota Motorsport GmbH remains formally bound by the Concorde Agreement to put forward a team for participation, though it has indicated that it will not be in a position to do so. An announcement will be made regarding this entry in due course.
Only of two F1 ready operations will race next year
While there are four new F1 teams being built from the scratch (USF1, Manor, Campos META, Lotus) at least one of two established F1 operations is unlikely to make it to the 2010 grid.
BMW has finally managed to do what they should have done right away – after the failed Qadbak deal they sold the team back to Peter Sauber. The problem is BMW decided not to sign the new Concorde Agreement and the team has lost its entry. Before they made up their mind what to do with the Hinwil operation FIA granted the 13th entry to Lotus … All that Peter Sauber’s team has now is the “14th” entry.
So, no Quadbak sale. BMW has at the end agreed to sell their F1 team back to Peter Sauber. There is one condition attached though – the team needs to have a place on 2010 grid. And that is one thing they don’t have at the moment thanks to the failure of BMW to sign the Concorde Agreement. There is a possible vacancy following Toyota’s withdrawal from the sport. But that vacancy does not have to go to Sauber … Toyota still owns that 13th entry and there are some reports that Toyota may be selling it to another party – that party being Stefan Grand Prix, the Serbian entity that took FIA to European Commission for the way the original team selection process was handled … Here are the links to Joe Saward’s blog entry and to Autosport feature (subscription required).
The original sale to Quadbak was announced just after FIA granted the entry vacated by BMW to Lotus. Will the history repeat itself ? Has the BMW / Sauber solution arrived too late yet again ?
Kimi, Fisi and Heikki
The Abu Dhabi GP is the last race of 2009 Formula One season. It is also the last race we will see in F1 … Here is the list:
The ban on refueling will come to effect in 2010 season and so the Abu Dhabi is the last chance (for a while at least) to watch the refueling pit stops, strategies based on fuel loads as well as race fuel qualifying (in Q3). Well, and this will be the last time waiting for FIA to publish the post qualifying weights.
KERS only arrived this season but it will not return in 2010. The technology is likely to make comeback in not too distant future but for a time being Abu Dhabi GP is the last F1 race featuring KERS.
3) Drivers in their current teams
The Abu Dhabi GP will be the last opportunity (unless the drivers return in the future) to see Kimi Raikkonen in Ferrari, Fernando Alonso in Renault, Robert Kubica in the team currently known as BMW Sauber.
While nothing has been confirmed yet it is also possible (and in some cases very likely) that we will not see again Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima in Williams, Jarno Trulli or Timo Glock (will not be racing in Abu Dhabi) or both in Toyota, Rubens Barrichello in Brawn GP, Romain Grosjean in Renault, Heikki Kovalainen in McLaren…
4) Drivers racing
Giancarlo Fisichella may have a contract with Ferrari for next year and beyond but only as a test driver. So unless he is called in to stand in for the regular drivers Abu Dhabi may be Fisi’s farewell F1 race. He may be joined by some other drivers who are on the way out of their current teams …
BMW has decided to end its involvement in Formula One, Abu Dhabi GP will be the farewell F1 race for the Munich based manufacturer. And as the team currently has no place on 2010 grid it is also possible that this will be the last appearance of the Hinwil based F1 operation …
6) Engine deals
BMW engines will disappear following the BMWs withdrawal from F1. Williams has ended the deal with Toyota, this will be the last race of Toyota powered Williams car. (There has also been talk about Red Bull switching from Renault to someone else but nothing has been confirmed yet.)
7) 20 cars grid
Following the change of the regulations and entry of several new teams – Manor, Campos Meta, USF1, Lotus (provided they all show up in Bahrain next March) – the Abu Dhabi GP may be the last one for a while featuring only 10 teams and 20 cars.
As expected Renault F1 team has confirmed that Robert Kubica will replace Fernando Alonso and will drive for the team from the 2010 season onwards. There has been no information about the length of Kubica’s contract with Renault. Kubica tested for Renault back in 2005 following his World Series by Renault title. There has been no word on the team’s second driver.
BMW Sauber sold
Only few hours after FIA confirmed Lotus as the 13th team on F1 grid news came out of BMW. The company announced that Qadbak Investments Ltd, a Swiss-based foundation which represents the interests of certain Middle East and European based families, has agreed to purchase the BMW Sauber F1 Team:
Lotus name returns to F1
FIA issued a press release earlier today with the new F1 team announcement. The 13th spot left vacant following the withdrawal of BMW Sauber will go Malaysian governement backed Team Lotus F1 entry. The Lotus cars will be powered by Cosworth engines. Tony Fernandes, the owner of current Williams sponsor Air Asia will be the team principal, Mike Gascoyne will become the technical director.
The BMW Sauber team (or whatever will it be turned into) received the back up spot number 14th – it will be entitled any vacancy that may be created on 2010 grid …
Here is the full text of the FIA press release:
Sebastian Vettel extended his contract with Red Bull
With F1 back from the summer hiatus we also have some fresh news, rumours and speculations coming out of the paddock. Here is a summary of today’s F1 news, tweets and speculations.
Sebastian Vettel extended his contract with Red Bull until the end of 2011 season. Red Bull Racing also has an option for Vettel’s services for 2012 season. This is a fact.
Yesterday McLaren made it clear that Heikki Kovalainen has to up his game if he wants to keep his seat beyond this season. Martin Whitmarsh very much confirmed it today. But while doing so he also said something interesting about Fernando Alonso and Ferrari:
Unlike last season this year we have already had some mid-season drivers changes. Jaime Alguersuari has replaced Sebastien Bourdais in Toro Rosso, Nelson Piquet was dropped by Renault and Luca Badoer is about to step in to Ferrari F60 for injured Felipe Massa. Unlike last year we can also expect some serious shuffle to come before the 2010 season begins. BMW is on their way out, 3 (or 4) new teams are on the way in, several contracts are up for renewal (or else). Let’s have a first look how the things are (or may be) shaping up:
Will Peter Sauber keep his former team in F1 ?
Following the failure of BMW and Peter Sauber to reach a takeover deal on time to sign the new Concorde Agreement a vacancy on the 2010 has been created. Max Mosley wasted no time and wrote to the teams on his reserve list (unsuccessful candidates for 2010 F1 entry as well as BMW Sauber) informing them that about the newly available place on the F1 grid.
This may look harsh on Peter Sauber who still continues to look for a way to save the team he created in the early 90s. On the other hand the it is hard to blame FIA for this action. If anyone is to jump in and fill the empty space left behind by BMW they need to know sooner rather than later.
No agreement on team's future yet
Mario Theissen and Peter Sauber issued separate statements today on the future of BMW Sauber F1 team following BMW’s decision to quit Formula 1:
“Since the announcement on 29 July of our strategic realignment, we have done everything in our power to reach a rapid agreement on the sale of the team based at Hinwil. Regrettably, despite every effort, this has proved unsuccessful. The tight timeframe we faced simply did not allow us and the interested parties and investors enough time to find a solution for such a complex transaction. This means the team cannot sign the Concorde Agreement at present. The aim now is, over the coming weeks, to find a solution together with potential interested parties and Peter Sauber. Beyond that, we will see the 2009 season through to its conclusion with our unstinting sporting commitment.” – Mario Theissen
We all probably expected this to be a quiet week. It all turned out a bit differently.
BMW decided to pull the plug on F1. They surprised not only the public but also their drivers who had no idea such an option was even on cards (at least that is what Heidefeld, Kubica and Klien said). The focus of BMW debates is now shifting from “Why they decided to quit ?” to “What is next ?”
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