Formula One: On and off track - week 12

Formula One: On and off track - week 12

The race for 2011 is on, Bridgestone will not return, Zanardi's marathon, and Formula One's legacy The race for 2011 is on The FIA has re-opened the selection process to fill the thirteenth slot in Formula One which became vacant after...


The race for 2011 is on, Bridgestone will not return, Zanardi's marathon, and Formula One's legacy

The race for 2011 is on

The FIA has re-opened the selection process to fill the thirteenth slot in Formula One which became vacant after newcomer US F1 earlier this year failed to deliver the goods. Candidates who feel they are capable to compete in Formula One in 2011 will have to register a formal 'expression of interest' with the FIA's Secretariat before 5pm CET Thursday April 15, 2010, and will have to pay an administration fee of E1,000. The FIA is apparently not so sure whether all 2010 teams will survive this season, and therefore announced there are also vacancies for 'reserve teams'. The FIA anticipates that full applications will need to be submitted by the end of June 2010, followed by 'due diligence' leading to a decision in July.

FIA and F1 Flags.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The Serbian Stefan GP team, which rose from the ashes of the Toyota team, was hoping to take over the US F1 entry, but the FIA closed the door by officially revoking the US F1 entry, and Stefan GP will now have to enter the selection process like all other candidates. Meanwhile, the team's website is of the air, and owner Zoran Stefanovi? has informed the media he has terminated his relationship with Toyota for 2010.

US F1 are still hoping they will get an entry for 2011, but the FIA announced last week they will take appropriate actions regarding the non- participation of the American team, which suggests US F1 is facing financial or disciplinary penalties, and that would make their return even more unlikely. In 2009 the entries of Lola, Prodrive/Aston Martin, iSport, Epsilon Euskadi, Brabham, Litespeed and N.Technology didn't make it, and they are still the most likely candidates to enter the FIA selection process again. The Spanish Epsilon Euskadi motorsport team, led by Joan Villadelprat, already announced they will lodge an entry for 2011.

Bridgestone will not return

Bridgestone has made it clear they will currently not reconsider their decision to stop their Formula One activities, Bridgestone's motorsport director Hiroshi Yasukawa hinted it is very unlikely the company would change its mind. Bridgestone entered Formula One in 1997 and has been the sole supplier since Michelin withdrew at the end of 2007. They have sofar won 156 of the 223 Formula One races they have entered, and will continue to supply tyres to the GP2 and GP2 Asia series. One thing should be mentioned to complete the picture, the Japanese tyre company didn't get paid for the delivery of the tyres, even worse, it is estimated Formula One currently costs the company about 120 million dollars per season.

Both FIA president Jean Todt and FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone want Bridgestone to stay in Formula One, but at the same time claim they can find a replacement supplier. However, the rumors are that previous tyre suppliers Michelin, Goodyear, Pirelli and Avon are only prepared to supply tyres when they get paid for it. When teams have to pay for the tyres, it is estimated it will cost them between 4 and 6 million dollar per season.

Other candidates like the German Continental, and Korean Hankook and Kumho tyre manufacturers, have no experience at all in Formula One, and it will be very difficult for them, if not impossible, to prepare themselves in time for the 2011 season. It seems the decision of the FIA to admit only one exclusive tyre supplier in Formula One has back-fired, tyre manufacturers will only invest in Formula One if there is a healthy competition.

Zanardi's marathon

Ex-Formula One driver and two-times CART champion Alessandro 'Alex' Zanardi has said goodbye to motor racing last year, but he just can't say goodbye to any form of competition and has found a new challenge in life. The 43-year old Italian driver took part in the Rome marathon last Sunday and won the men's handcycle category. By winning the category he earned a place on the Italian team to the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Zanardi lost both his legs during a CART race at the Lausitzring in Germany in 2001. He made a miraculous recovery, and in 2003 and 2004 he competed in the European Touring Car Championship, and from 2005 until 2009 in the World Touring Car Championship.

Alex Zanardi during his last WTCC race in Macau.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Zanardi won the prestigious Laureus World Sports Award in 2005 in the World Comeback category. Last year Zanardi won the Venice Marathon for the Disabled in a wheelchair. He has also dedicated himself to testing and developing new artificial limbs and devices for the disabled. These include artificial legs equipped with revolutionary electronic knees, which use a microchip capable of reading stress and pressure and opens or closes hydraulic valves in the knee joints. And the Paralympics in London? Zanardi is aiming for nothing less than a podium place!

Formula One's legacy

When Bernie Ecclestone revealed he was exploring the possibilities with Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno to organize a Gran Premio di Roma in 2012 or 2013, many feared this would be the end of the race at Monza. Much to the relieve of many race fans, the Italian circuit announced last week they have renewed their deal with FOM until 2016, and Monza's mayor Marco Mariani is now in talks with FOM to extend the deal with another 5 years until 2021.

The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, located north of Milan, has a very rich motorsport history, the first track was build in 1922 and included the famous high speed oval with its steeply banked curves. The circuit with its long straights and famous turns like the Curva di Lesmo, Curva Parabolica, Curva Grande and Variante Ascari has been the stage of many glorious race events, but also has been the stage of many dramatic accidents. The circuit has been improved and made safer over the years, and is still very popular with drivers and fans alike.

It has been said before, Bernie Ecclestone and his FOM organization are leaving the European circuits and go after the money of the Arab and Asian countries, who are more than happy to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a Formula One race. It is now about time FOM, FIA and FOTA team up, and do everything they possibly can to ensure the classic European circuits of Monza, Monaco, Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone -- who represent a major part of Formula One's legacy -- are preserved for the future generation of Formula One teams, drivers and fans.

Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track".


See also: Formula One: On and off track - week 11

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Alex Zanardi , Jean Todt , Hiroshi Yasukawa , Bernie Ecclestone