The race for Formula 1’s 13th grid slot not utilised by USF1 this season is not just a three-horse race between French team ART Grand Prix, Italian based Durango and the American Cypher Group as we previously believed, but a four-corner battle with Spanish team Epsilon Euskadi in the mix. The Basque country based outfit currently races in Le Mans and the World Series by Renault.
FIA is currently reviewing their applications, but we’re now in June and the longer they take, the less development time the successful bidder will have to develop a credible 2011 challenge.
Joan Villadelprat, boss of Epsilon fears exactly that. “I’m optimistic, but also a bit worried because the FIA announcement won’t come before the end of August,” he told Autosprint. “That means that, for the teams who get the nod, the time to start proper construction of the F1 car will be tiny. On top of that, it’s inevitable that we now find ourselves in the situation where we begin making investments without knowing whether we’ll actually be in next year’s championship,” he added.
But like the other aspirants, the Epsilon boss says their project will be sustainable in the long term. “We have long been in talks with big and important international companies who are interested in investing in us. One thing is for sure: our programme isn’t on a yearly basis. The budget I require must cover at least the first two seasons, 2011 and 2012. I repeat, that’s a minimum. An F1 team can’t be reasoning year by year.”
The man realises that F1 is a big money sport and is skeptical about Virgin’s target of keeping within a 40 million euro budget. “I feel that, in order to begin thinking of improving a team, you need no less than 100 million as a starting point. Of course, you can race with 40 million too, but without making any important development and at the risk of always being just an extra. And having to start over from zero every year.”