The FIA has delayed its decision on a future Formula 1 team entry, which was due to be made today.
The FIA first announced a “call for expression of interest” on Dec. 12, and noted that a decision would be made on Feb. 28.
Gene Haas is in competition with a Romanian project, and the governing body has written to the candidates apparently not given a reason for the delay, or an alternative deadline. However it’s worth speculating that Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone might have different ideas about which team should get the nod.
It’s believed that only one slot is up for the grabs, although there is no reason why the field could not be extended to 26 cars, and that may be one of the factors behind the delay. There’s also the question of whether all the existing teams will survive over the next couple of years.
Intriguingly, it seems that realistically Haas is aiming for a 2016 start, while the Romanian project is ready to kick off in 2015, should it be given the go ahead.
Haas is tied to Ferrari, and will be able to take advantage of the fact that the FIA is relaxing the rules on sharing technology between teams next season. In effect it means that the NASCAR team co-owner can buy almost everything he needs from Maranello. However, he has to own the IP of his chassis and bodywork.
Meanwhile, the driving force behind the rival bid is believed to be Ion Bazac, a qualified doctor and former Romanian health minister. The 45-year-old has a number of business interests and is the country’s Ferrari importer, under the name Forza Rossa. He’s also a past chairman of a company Global Finance & Leasing.
He is the front man for a consortium of private and state funded investors whose motive is to promote the interests of Romania, and who have the support of the government. Indeed the country’s sports minister joined team representatives for the meeting with the FIA in France last week, where he stressed that Formula 1 was seen as a valuable tool for that purpose – and a better option that building a circuit and hosting a Grand Prix, a strategy that has now been abandoned.
Lotus LMP1/LMP2 constructor Colin Kolles, who ran HRT from his base near Munich, would provide existing race team and manufacturing facilities. As noted several weeks ago, production car maker Dacia is also involved, which explains the team’s plan to use Renault engines.
The two candidates paid a $130,000 fee and went through a vetting process which culminated in a meeting with key FIA figures on Tuesday of this week. It’s believed that Todt was not directly involved with the meetings.
The original FIA announcement gives some idea of what was discussed: “All applicants will be expected to undergo thorough due diligence. By way of indication only, the applicable selection criteria will include: (a) the technical ability and resources of the team; (b) the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the Championship at a competitive level; (c) the team’s experience and human resources; (d) the FIA’s assessment of the value that the candidate may bring to the Championship as a whole.”