With the new season just around the corner I want to cover a topic that has been talked about a lot over the last few weeks and that is the new teams that are coming into F1 this year.
Campos, Lotus, Virgin and USF1 will make there debut in Bahrain in March, or will they? There has been a lot of talk that Campos in particular won't make the season opener in Bahrain. With regards USF1 the doubts have surrounded around the silence of Peter Windsor towards the end of last year in relation to the F1 project. I think a lot of the criticism behind the team is unfounded and you get the impression that it’s because they are a new team based outside of Europe. Moving away from the rumours the news reports seems to suggest that the development of the new car is going well. They are the only team that we have seen real parts of the new car so for the time being they seem to be on track. (No pun intended!!) However they remain the only new team that hasn't signed a driver yet. Jose Maria Lopez has been rumoured to be in with a chance of securing a seat and is understood to have an agreement with USF1 in which he must secure a sponsorship deal in the region of 8 million dollars. Pedro De la Rosa and Alex Wurz have also been rumoured to be in contention for a place but De la Rosa appears to be staying as the McLaren test and reserve driver and Wurz has denied any desire to return to F1. There has been a number of different names mentioned but nothing concrete yet. One important thing to note is that if USF1 do well this season they might help in the attempt to bring F1 to America. There inclusion in the championship definitely can’t hurt the chances.
Campos is the second new team into the championship and as far as everyone is concerned this is the team that everyone thinks will fail. I'd hate to be Bruno Senna right now. A possible seat with Honda went out the door when they pulled out from the sport and now that he has landed a seat there is an uncertainty of them making the first race. With regards Campos their signing of Senna seems to be the only good news story to come out of the team so far. With all the talk of them not being able to find sponsors and looking for buyers they could well be the new "Simtek", or "Forti". The situation in my opinion got even more dire when Tony Teixeira was linked with a buy in to the team, he is the man who owns A1 GP or should that be "owned" A1 GP as it now seems no more thanks to financial problems. They have yet to sign a second driver but believe me whoever he is would want to have a lot of money!
Virgin and Lotus seem to be the more stable of the three. Richard Branson is a big supporter of the underdog so it was no surprise when he bought into the Manor Grand Prix team. They have Timo Glock and Lucas Di Grassi as there drivers and its a nice blend of F1 experience and young talent. Incidentally Di Grassi finished runner up to Glock in GP2 in 2007 so there is going to be a good rivalry between those to which could make for some good racing. They also seem to have a good sponsorship package including Lloyd's Banking Group. Lotus' entrance is funded by the Malaysian government and a group of Malaysian entrepreneurs but there is still very much a British feel to the team. In terms of drivers they have the strongest line up of the four teams in Jarno Trulli and Heiki Kovalainnen. The two combined have 271 Grand Prix under their belts. With a new team experience is what they need. They also have that in Technical director Mike Gasgoyne.
In summary I think its going to be between Lotus and Virgin as to who comes out on top. I think USF1 might spring a surprise and I really hope they do. An American team in the sport is important. With regards Campos we might not see them make the end of the season. Its sad to say but unless they secure a big sponsorship package the season will be more about survival. That’s it for now!! See you next week!!!!