Breaking the story first, Adam Cooper reported that the collaboration between Stefan Grand Prix and Toyota had ended with the news that the team would not be able to participate in the 2010 season. This news contradicted the report from Autosport that Zoran Stefanovic had agreed a deal to purchase and take over USF1 so it could take it’s entry.
“Although Stefanovic believes that in purchasing the US F1 assets he should get the team’s original entry, it is understood that the FIA has written to the team to explain that the American team forfeited the entry when it failed to start the season.” Autosport wrote. “Furthermore, the FIA is poised to begin disciplinary action against US F1 for its failure to make the grid – which could theoretically result in Stefanovic’s company getting dragged into any penalties that are eventually handed down if he owns the American team.”
This would not be something that Mr. Stefanovic would want to be involved with, especially of he is putting together a bid to enter the 2011 F1 season.
And so, to the main news, which was confirmed with an interview with Autosport stating that Mr. Stefanovic and his team would no longer be collaborating with Toyota in the future. “For 2010, it’s not feasible to do it anymore,” Stefanovic told AUTOSPORT. “We have some other [plan] in mind, we will see. 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.”
The break from the memorandum of understanding is strange from both sides given the fact that if the collaboration was to continue during the 2011 FIA tenure process, then this would give Stefan GP a very strong advantage over any other team within to enter the 2011 season.
Toyota released a statement, in which it said it had“restructured to provide specialist solutions ranging from complete car development to individual component testing or production, aimed at the automotive or engineering sectors and beyond. Around 200 experts provide a flexible portfolio of specialised services which for the first time is available to external clients, in addition to the worldwide Toyota family.”
This opens up the possibility that another potential team could get involved with Toyota if they are granted entry to the 2011 season by the FIA.
So, where does this leave Stefan GP? The Stefan Grand Prix blog will be analysing that and an interview given to the Serbian press a little later.
UPDATE: It has been announced that the Spanish Epsilon Euskadi team is considering submitting an entry to the FIA to compete in 2011. All potential candidates are required to register by April 15th, when the FIA will decide which team can take the 13th grid slot. Rather strangely, a 14th reserve grid slot has been opened, but who would be willing to spend all that money, make a car, sign drivers etc, only to sit on the sidelines if no-one drops out? How will they be able attract sponsors? This author thinks that idea will not last.