Tag Archives: Stefan GP

A look at the F1 2011 applicants

The FIA has opened the process to accept one more team into the Formula 1 paddock for 2011. After the epic failure of USF1, more stringent measures are being put in place this time to ensure the same does not happen again. It has not, however, deterred teams from their interest, and we will now have a look at their applications.

Durango/Villeneuve Racing


This application is a tie-up between the racing team Durango, who currently compete in the AutoGP series (formerly European Formula 3000), and 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve. It is understood that this team would be named after Villeneuve if they are successful.

AutoGP isn’t a bad place for a racing team, but Durango only ran 1 car in this series, which will damage their application. However, they have previously raced in Formula 3 and sports cars. They also competed in GP2 between 2005 and 2008, where they took 3 wins. While this is good, they have since dropped out of the 2009-2010 GP2 Asia Series, due to financial problems. However, despite winning races in GP2, they blatantly broke the rules regarding standard-spec parts.

In 2006, they manufactured their own parts, instead of using Dallara’s own spec equipment. At Silverstone that year, Lucas di Grassi’s rear wing came off, and it emerged that instead of sending the car back to Dallara, Durnago decided to repair it themselves, and did a terrible job of it.

Then, it got even worse in Spa 2008, when Stefano Coletti’s steering column snapped (probably another botched repair job) at Eau Rouge. When the team turned up at the next race in Monza, Dallara had impounded one of their cars, as it was too unsafe for use, as the team had badly repaired it once too many. Interestingly enough, no official explanation came out for either of these 2 incidents I mentioned, I had to dig deep to get a hold of them. Therefore, you can’t rule out Durango trying to cover up this farce, which wouldn’t surprise me at all.

It gets even worse. Last year, it emerged that Durango was being investigated for criminal tax evasion and fraud, and that it had been using a system of companies which constantly changed their names to issue bills with inflated figures in order to reduce costs and lower the payable tax. It has been reported that Durango has €12m of unreported revenue, €11m of false invoicing, €3m of unpaid tax, and they reduced their base tax illegally by €16m. Nice.

Despite all of this, the team still believes they have the funds to enter F1 (even if they can’t afford to stay in GP2), and claim that they have 2 major international finance suppliers or sponsors. It is believed that one of these is Russian.

However, Durango is the last team I would look at for an F1 spot. They look completely unprofessional, may well have covered up their troubles (I can’t allege it though, no proof), and at the end of the day, they can’t even properly repair their own car. They look as viable as USF1.

Pros: Good experience in a variation of motorsport categories. And a nice livery.

Cons: Can’t repair their own car, huge amounts of tax evasion and fraud, broke GP2′s standard-spec equipment rule multiple times, no clear investment, very little known about their actual team.

Overall: Not a hope in hell of them getting through.

Stefan GP


A name that should be easily remembered, if you were following this blog in January-March.  Stefan GP has not raced in any other categories of motorsport at all, but have more technical partnerships to prop them up than Durango. Toyota’s technical details, as well as the chassis  from their 2010 car which was never raced, has been obtained by the Serbian team. It certainly wasn’t a bad piece of kit for them to get themselves experienced, as the TF110 features a triple-decker diffuser, and a radical aerodynamic profile.

Stefan GP had obtained this car before the 2010 season began, but were turned away by the FIA, as they felt they wouldn’t have time to get up to speed. However, the team are trying again next year with the same car, and they have talked to many drivers, such as Sebastien Loeb.

However, like Durango, Stefan GP have a shady background which does not inspire confidence. The team owner, Zoran Stefanovich, owns a Serbian engineering company called AMCO. This company convinced Toyota that they were involved with space and military technology, to get Toyota to support Stefan GP.

To convince Toyota, they set up web pages, that said that AMCO worked with Germany’s Federal Defence Force on flight drones and contributed to the European Space Agency’s orbit launch rocket Ariane 5. But, the German Defense Force then responded that “there are no technologies of the AMCO”.

Furthermore, after looking at the company’s registry, it emerged that the AMCO was founded with capital of… €500. The company has only one employee, took in €3315 in 2009, and after deductions (no info available), ended up with a net total of €42 profit. Yeah!

So, it is obvious that Zoran Stefanovich and his companies are complete frauds, and I’m praying that this is the reason why the FIA turned them down. Of course, the FIA cannot allege what I said, since concrete facts cannot be obtained without a criminal investigation, and I’m not convinced the Serbian government can get that done.

Pros: Very eager to get into F1, despite the probability that they wouldn’t get in, excellent technical partnership with Toyota.

Cons: A fraud company owned by the team owner, too aggressive towards FIA.

Overall: Up to a while ago I wanted them to get in, but never again.

Epsilon Euskadi


While there are very suspicious operations behind Durango and Stefan GP, no such problems occur with Epsilon Euskadi (try saying that 5 times quickly). At the moment, this team competes in the Le Mans Series, World Series by Renault, Formula Renault 2.0 West, and the European Cup.

The team have a history of promoting well known and sometimes very successful drivers, such as Robert Kubica (won the 2005 World Series by Renault with the team), Jaime Alguersuari (won the Formula Renault 2.0 Italia Winter Series), Brendon Hartley ( winner of the 2007 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0) and Albert Costa (winner of 2009 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0).

The team itself it fantastically well-equipped, with an Innovation and Technology Centre to design their F1 car if they are accepted. Also, they have backing from Carlos Garcia, the president of the Spanish Automobile Association, which is an important factor when considering the teams.

On the other hand, their financial situation is unclear, so we will have to wait and see can they get any sponsors on board. Despite this, I firmly believe that Epsilon Euskadi are the best team for the job, and I would also love to see them replace the disastrous Hispania team, which throws out its perfectly good race drivers just to stay financially afloat.

Pros: Impressive technical facilities, huge experience in motorsport, great eye for upcoming young drivers, titles in many racing categories, well supported from the region.

Cons: Unclear financial situation may hamper their budget.

Overall: The best option for the empty grid slot, and even if they were somehow rejected, they could replace Hispania instead.

Stefan GP confirms F1 2011 bid

Stefan GP's new logo

Stefan GP's new logo

After many weeks of silence, Stefan GP have now said that they are to bid for the final slot on the grid for the 2011 season. Also, this time, they have come prepared.

First of all, they have announced a deal with the Mayor of Stara Pazova to construct a Stefan Technology Park. It contains a racing circuit suitable for Formula 1 racing, and a technical complex for Stefan GP headquarters. It has also been claimed that this technology park will be on par with the top teams’ facilities.

Secondly, Stefan GP have released info on what drivers they have and will be talking to. On their site, they list these 12 drivers as Jacques Villeneuve, Narain Karthikeyan, Kazuki Nakajima, Pastor Maldonado, Bartrand Baguette, Sebastien Loeb, Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien, Karun Chandhok, Takuma Sato, Adrian Valles and Alex Margaritis. However, I must feel that some of these drivers must be annoyed at this news being released.

Most of these drivers make sense, but Loeb? Yeah right. When he tested for Red Bull a few years back, he was only a few tenths off the main drivers’ times after an hour. If he ever comes to F1, it will never be with a small team.  Also, I have a feeling that Ralf Schumacher’s infamous wage requests when he was at Toyota might not be a good choice for a new team like Stefan. Otherwise, they have a good selection of young drivers to choose from, and they have already talked to all of them.

Next up, Zoran Stefanovich spoke about keeping motivated after being rejected for the 2010 grid position:

A great man by the name of Sir Winston Churchill once said 
something that I try to implant into the minds of the people 
in my team. It's something along the lines of: NEVER, NEVER, 
NEVER GIVE UP! In the last almost 12 months you were all 
witnesses of the fact that I strongly stand behind my beliefs.

I still believe that F1 would be a much more interesting 
competition with SGP, and my team and I feel like the battle 
is just starting. We want to be a part of F1 for both the long 
and short term future, and I hope that we will finally have 
the success we deserve.

This quality is shared by every person who has changed the world. 
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! Thank you for supporting us, and 
I hope to see you at GP soon!

Best Regards, Zoran Stefanovic

I must admit that with all of this I’m more trusting of Stefan GP, albeit not completely. They are much more organised, and now have plans for the future as well. The only thing they need now is the return of the technical partnership with Toyota, which they had used to develop their 2010 car.

What do you think? Should Stefan GP be given a chance to prove themselves, or should the grid spot be given to an established team like Epsilon Euskadi?

Stefan GP ends Toyota partnership

Stefan GP has now ended their technical partnership with Toyota

Stefan GP has now ended their technical partnership with Toyota

Stefan GP have announced today that they have ended their technical partnership with Toyota. The Serbian team, led by Zoran Stefanovich, had bought Toyota gearboxes, chassis and engines in expectation of getting a grid slot this year. However, since their application was rejected by the FIA, there will be no need for this partnership this year.

Stefanovich said:

"For 2010, it's not feasible to do it anymore. We are very grateful to Toyota, which is a great company and doing a 
great job in what they are doing. They are now organising things differently - they are now more profit-centered in 
TMG in Cologne.
We are looking for a solution which is feasible for us all the time. At the moment there is no opportunity to 
organise anything. We're basically looking to see which direction we will go in the very near future."

After this, he stated that another partnership with the Cologne squad was possible if the team were looking into applying for the 2011 F1 championship. At the moment, the FIA are open to submissions for the 13th grid place, and the reserve team. It is currently unclear if Stefan GP are going to apply for this position.

Hopefully they will, having come so close this year. To get hold of a reliable supply of vital car parts like they did is a great way of starting up an F1 team, and hopefully they can do the same next year. If they don’t, then they’re just giving up to a governing body which seriously mishandled what should have been a welcome sight, seeing many new teams in F1.

Stefan GP not on FIA 2010 entry list

Stefan GP’s bid to enter the 2010 F1 world championship appears to have failed, as the team does not appear on the FIA’s entry list for 2010.

With only 8 days until practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Stefan GP were hoping that they could take the place of the fallen USF1 team. However, they do not appear in the new entry list, which is the final one before the season starts.

Also, this is the first time that Sauber have appeared on the entry list, as the list had not been updated recently until now. Campos Meta now appears as HRT Cosworth, while Bruno Senna is still listed as the only driver for the team.

The FIA has made the following statement:

"The USF1 Team have indicated that they will not be in a position to 
participate in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship. Having 
considered the various options, the FIA confirms that it is not 
possible for a replacement team to be entered for the Championship 
at this late stage.

In the coming days the FIA will announce details of a new selection 
process to identify candidates to fill any vacancies existing at the 
start of the 2011 season."

This means that, instead of now, they will wait until 2011 to look at accepting a new team to fill USF1′s shoes, which may include Stefan GP.

Full FIA entry list:

No. Driver Team Constructor
1
2
Jenson BUTTON (GBR)
Lewis HAMILTON (GBR)
VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
3
4
Michael SCHUMACHER (DEU)
Nico ROSBERG (DEU)
MERCEDES GP PETRONAS FORMULA ONE TEAM (DEU) Mercedes Benz GP Limited
5
6
Sebastian VETTEL (DEU)
Mark WEBBER (AUS)
RED BULL RACING (AUT) Red Bull Racing Renault
7
8
Felipe MASSA (BRA)
Fernando ALONSO (ESP)
SCUDERIA FERRARI
MARLBORO (ITA)
Ferrari
9
10
Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Nico HÜLKENBERG (DEU)

AT&T WILLIAMS (GBR) Williams Cosworth
11
12
Robert KUBICA (POL)
Vitaly PETROV (RUS)
RENAULT F1 TEAM (FRA) Renault
14
15
Adrian SUTIL (DEU)
Vitantonio LIUZZI (ITA)
FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND) Force India Mercedes
16
17
Sébastien BUEMI (CHE)
Jaime ALGUERSUARI (ESP)
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (ITA) STR Ferrari
18
19
Jarno TRULLI (ITA)
Heikki KOVALAINEN (FIN)
LOTUS RACING (MAL) Lotus Cosworth
20
21
TBA
Bruno SENNA (BRA)
HRT F1 TEAM (ESP) HRT Cosworth
22
23
Pedro DE LA ROSA (ESP)
Kamui KOBAYASHI (JPN)
BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM (CHE) BMW Sauber Ferrari
24
25
Timo GLOCK (DEU)
Luca DI GRASSI (BRA)
VIRGIN RACING (GBR) Virgin Cosworth

Note: The USF1 Team have indicated that they will not be in a position to participate in 2010.

Final plea from Stefan GP

Stefan GP might be struggling to get into F1, but at least they have a car

Stefan GP might be struggling to get into F1, but at least they have a car

The final statement has been released from Stefan GP headquarters, asking the FIA to allow them into the 2010 F1 championship in place of USF1.

The team has a car ready, which it plans to unveil next week. They have already sent their equipment to Bahrain, two weeks before any other team did. However, they need a current team to drop out, which will probably be USF1.

Their statement is as follows:

"SGP would like to re-confirm its desire and, importantly, its
ability to compete in the whole of the FIA 2010 Formula One World
Championship,' reads a statement on the team's website, stressing
that it is able to take part without missing Grands Prix, unlike its
American counterpart.

It recognises that this can only happen with the consent of the FIA
(governing body) and FOM (commercial rights holder), but has faith
that the Formula One 'family' will make the correct decision in the
end.

There will be no more press releases on this subject and we look
forward to being allowed to show everyone our team in Bahrain."

So it seems this is the final attempt by Zoran Stefanovich to enter F1. After all I’ve said about them, I have to admit that the FIA might as well let them in. USF1 are dead, end of story. Stefan GP will be well off the pace if they enter the Bahrain GP, but is it better than having nothing?

And more to the point, why are we even having this discussion? This would never have happened if the FIA had picked plausible teams for 2010. Manor would have gone the same way as USF1 if Virgin hadn’t bought them out. Campos would have been similarly dead if Kolles and Carabante hadn’t taken over. This new teams thing is turning ridiculous.

Ferrari rant attacks new teams

On their official website, Ferrari has attacked Max Mosley, the former FIA president, and the new teams entering Formula 1 this year.

Their statement is as follows:

Only less than three weeks to go until the ultimate form of motor
sport, the Formula 1 World Championship, gets underway, while
celebrating its sixtieth birthday this year. For many of the teams,
this coming week is a crucial one, as the bell rings to signal the
final lap, with the last test session getting underway in Barcelona.
It is one last chance to run the cars on track, to push reliability
to the limit and to try and find some performance. That’s the
situation for many teams but not for all of them. Of the thirteen
teams who signed up, or were induced to sign up, for this year’s
Championship, to date only eleven of them have heeded the call,
turning up on track, some later than others, and while some have
managed just a few hundred kilometres, others have done more, but
at a much reduced pace. As for the twelfth team, Campos Meta, its
shareholder and management structure has been transformed, according
to rumours which have reached the Horse Whisperer through the
paddock telegraph, with a sudden cash injection from a munificent
white knight, well used to this sort of last minute rescue deal.
However, the beneficiaries of this generosity might find the knight
in question expects them to fulfil the role of loyal vassal. All
this means, it is hard to imagine the Dallara designed car showing
its face at the Catalunya Circuit, with Sakhir a more likely venue
to witness the return of the Senna name to a Formula 1 session.

The thirteenth team, USF1, appears to have gone into hiding in
Charlotte, North Carolina, to the dismay of those like the
Argentinian, Lopez, who thought he had found his way into the
Formula 1 paddock, (albeit with help from chairwoman Kirchner,
according to the rumours) and now has to start all over again.
Amazingly, they still have the impudence to claim that everything
is hunky-dory under the starry stripy sky.

Next, we have the Serbian vultures. Firstly, they launched themselves
into a quixotic legal battle with the FIA, then they picked the
bones of Toyota on its death bed. Having got some people on board,
around whom there was still a whiff of past scandals, they are now
hovering around waiting to replace whoever is first to drop out of
the game, possibly with backing from that very same knight in shining
armour whom we mentioned earlier.

This is the legacy of the holy war waged by the former FIA president.
The cause in question was to allow smaller teams to get into Formula
1. This is the outcome: two teams will limp into the start of the
championship, a third is being pushed into the ring by an invisible
hand – you can be sure it is not the hand of Adam Smith – and, as
for the fourth, well, you would do better to call on Missing Persons
to locate it. In the meantime, we have lost two constructors along
the way, in the shape of BMW and Toyota, while at Renault, there’s
not much left other than the name. Was it all worth it?

Another Ferrari rant, and it gets more vicious every single time. Ferrari are in no position to criticise every single team, person and organisation that isn’t an exact replica of them. When Max Mosley left the FIA, we all expected relations between the teams and the FIA to get better. But, the team that makes themselves appear like the “good guys” now come out lashing at Mosley. While the other teams are looking forward to the future, Ferrari just seem to be wallowing in the past, just to take cheap shots at their enemies.

Then, they take their anger out at Campos, calling their cash injection supplier a “munificent white knight”. It’s called a buyout. After this, they take a little shot at Jose Maria Lopez, initaially referring to him just as “the Argentinian”. Ferrari can’t slag off other drivers, only 6 months after they start throwing around their own just to get a few points which they didn’t get anyway.

And, as for calling Stefan GP “vultures”, they aren’t in a position to talk. We are talking about a team which sat behind the FIA for years, poking them into making moves to benefit themselves, and they now seem to think that Stefan GP waiting for a team to drop out (when everyone knows at least one will) is worse. Having said that, they are right about the employees hired “with a whiff of past scandals”. We are of course referring to Mike Coughlan, the McLaren engineer who stole Ferrari data from Rob Smedley, and (supposedly, never proved) tried to sell it on to Renault. The thing is though, why would Ferrari drop criminal proceedings against him, and then whinge years afterwards? But Coughlan did pay Ferrari €180,000 in settlements to drop the case, so it’s all right. Pathetic.

Stefan GP fires up car for first time

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

The Stefan GP team, who have yet to be placed on the entry list for this year’s world championship, have fired up their SF01 car for the first time.

The SF01 was actuallt designed by Toyota, which Stefan took over when Toyota dropped out of F1 last year.The engine start-up happened in Toyota’s old Cologne factory, which Stefan GP now uses, apart from two small exclusive areas.

Speaking to Autosport, Zoran Stefanovich says that everything is going according to plan, and the car will be ready for its initial test in Portimao later this month. However, they are still working on a tyre supply deal for this test. In a radio interview, he said:

“This morning, 19 February 2010, was another stepping stone for Stefan Grand Prix. This morning at 8:00, the first car – Stefan 01 – was fired up for the first time.”

“The car ran faultlessly, there was no problem whatsoever, and we could race or test on a racetrack, but we’re just waiting for tyres.”

At the moment, the Stefan GP team is compiled of 60 people, plus the former workers of Toyota, because of the two teams’ collaboration deal.

However, even if the test runs smoothly, Stefan GP still do not have a place on the entry list for 2010. It is believed that the team will only get a place if Campos or USF1 drops out, which seems likely. Stefanovich stated that he is expexting news from the FIA soon:

“We are expecting it to be clarified relatively shortly because all of us know what the situation is. In the meantime we are working very heavily on sorting out the drivers’ contracts.”

I mentioned last month that one of the drivers would be Kazuki Nakajima, and I was right, with Stefanovich confirming this today. Also, he revealed that the team are in negotiations with former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

“At the moment we have to say that we are very near. We are very near to a contract with Jacques Villeneuve, and probably also with another driver as our reserve driver. But the first one which will be with us is Kazuki Nakajima.”

I’ll be honest, I really don’t trust this team. First of all, Bernie Ecclestone has been in talks with the Serbian Prime Minister regarding Stefan GP, and when Bernie gets involved, the results rarely go well. Then, of all the engineers Zoran could have got, he went for Mike Coughlan. I hope you remember him as the McLaren engineer who stole information from Ferrari in 2007, and then went straight to Honda (with Nigel Stepney) for a job application. He allegedly attempted to sell the technical information on to other teams as well. I’ve never trusted him since, and I won’t trust any team around him.

Even if Campos or USF1 do drop out, the FIA don’t hand out places on the grid that quickly. Hopefully we can wait until 2011 and see more about this team.

FIA states new teams can’t miss races

The FIA has clarified the rules regarding some new teams not being able to attend the first few races. Jean Todt recently stated that Campos and USF1 could skip the first 3 races, if they were not ready, and would avoid punishment.

This statement has been overturned by the FIA, however, who have released a short statement:

“From a sporting and regulatory point of view, each Team that has registered for the Championship is obliged to take part in every event of the season. Any failure to take part, even for just one Championship event, would constitute an infringement both of the Concorde Agreement and the FIA Regulations.”

The Concorde Agreement is, of course, the agreement of all the teams competing in Formula 1. If this contract is broken, the FIA have the power to disallow that team from competing in the sport.

This is good news for Stefan GP, who have already announced that they are sending equipment to Bahrain, in hope that either Campos or USF1 cannot make it. However, it seems that the team have overlooked the completely obvious. If a team drops out, the FIA don’t instantly hand another team their spot. Still, we might as well wait and see can Campos and USF1 get to the grid in time.

Stefan GP to launch on 25th, and test 2 drivers

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Despite still having no entry for the 2010 world championship, Stefan GP have now announced that they are to test their new car at Portimao, Portugal, on the 25th February.

The car will be launched a few days before this test. I talked earlier today about them sending equipment to Bahrain, now they have moved forward with the news that they will spend 3 days testing in Portimao.

Stefan GP have also said that they are to test two drivers at this 3-day test. If they get a place on the 2010 grid, these two will probably become the team’s drivers. It is understood that Kazuki Nakajima will be one of the drivers.

The car, called the Stefan S01, has been developed by the team, but with technical support from Toyota, ever since Stefan GP bought their data, parts, and chassis. The engine, to be called the Stefan RG-01, has also been serviced by Toyota.

Clearly, the team are very confident, but will it pay off? It is understood that Zoran Stefanovich, the team owner, believes that two teams (probably Campos and USF1) are in trouble financially. He and the team believe that at least one of these teams will not make it to Bahrain, so Stefan will be ready to take their place. That is, if the FIA give them the place.

After all this effort, Stefan should be given a chance, but not while there’s 13 other teams on the grid. I’m getting a bit tired of all the rumours of the new teams struggling, so a stable new team would be a welcome sight.

Stefan GP heading to Bahrain

Despite not being on the entry list for the 2010 championship, Stefan GP will still turn up at the Bahrain GP in expextation of racing.

A statement on their site read:

“SGP becomes the first team in F1 history who [sent] a 40 foot container full of equipment to the race in Bahrain without having entry for 2010 season!”

Just a few days ago, we found out that Stefan GP had acquired Toyota’s technical data and parts. With their chassis, they certainly have potential.

Still though, it’s very risky (and quite arrogant) to announce this so early. I’m not sure the FIA would approve these actions. Anyway, the only way Stefan GP would get on the entry list is if one of the current teams drops out. Clearly, Zoran Stefanovich believes that either Campos or USF1 doesn’t have the drive to get to the grid.

Or, even if they aren’t allowed to race, they could always do a Hans Heyer

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