One of two new Formula One teams – maybe both – won’t be at Bahrain for the season-opening Grand Prix in three weeks, which means good news for Serbia’s F1 team, Stefan GP, and Canada’s world champion driver, Jacques Villeneuve.
Although Stefan GP doesn’t have an official entry in this year’s F1 series, it's going full-steam ahead with the development and testing of its car and says negotiations with two drivers – one of whom is Villeneuve – are proceeding.
Although the Campos-Meta F1 team officially changed hands this weekend – founder Adrian Campos is out – all continues not to be well with the Spanish entry. A team official was quoted as saying that it still needs to raise money in order to make it to the first race.
Yikes. What about the rest of the season?
And despite rumours of its official demise that circulated earlier this week, the USF1 team continues to operate but the folks there are now trying to convince the FIA to allow it to miss the first four races of the season, after which it would join the series and everything would be peachy, they say.
Apparently (and everything about this team right from the start has had the word "apparently" attached to it), if the FIA says okay, we’ll cover for you – oops, allow you to join the series a quarter of the way into the season – then USF1 will receive sufficient funding from sponsors to allow it to complete its chassis and to pay for its Cosworth engines.
It is a mystery to me (and will be a mystery, undoubtedly, to the people at the FIA) how an extension will suddenly result in untold riches.
What happened to those untold riches previously? Did they take a wrong turn? Did they beat a hasty retreat when they got to USF1 headquarters in Charlotte and discovered that once you got past the sign on the front of the bulding that the team consisted of some well-meaning people but no racing cars and no motors?
Who is going to write a cheque for untold riches when the only racing car in the place is on a computer screen?
Those guys are done like dinner. Campos-Meta too, probably.
In the wings is this Stefan GP outfit, which rose from the ashes of the Toyota F1 project. On Friday, according to reports, they fired up the car for the first time.
Team principal Zoran Stefanovik has revealed that Kazuki Nakajima, who used to drive for Williams, has already signed to drive for the team.
Then he said this:
"We are very near to a contract with Jacques Villeneuve and probably also with another driver, who will be our reserve driver."
For Stefan GP and JV, this story could have a happy ending very shortly.
Meantime, Jame Hinchcliffe of Oakville will return to the Firestone Indy Lights Series for a second season. It was announced this past week that’s he’s signed to drive for Team Moore Racing of Indianapolis for the 2010 season, where his teammate will be Adrian Campos Jr., the son of you-know-who.
Right now, the entry list for the Lights series is on the low side. Fewer than a dozen cars have drivers. And the Formula Atlantic Series doesn’t seem to have more than a couple of up-and-comers signed, despite incentives like capping the cost of racing at less than a half-million smackers for the season and promising to pay cash money to the first 10 finishers at every race instead of waiting till the end of the season.
You’d have thought, with the demise of the Formula BMW-Americas Series, that Atlantics and Lights would both be a lot healthier, entry-wise.
This could change between now and the start of the season – but don’t bet on it.
In the end, this is not a good sign for the future of professional open-wheel racing in North America.