One final spot left on the 2010 F1 grid – who could get it and who won’t

The hunt is on to find a replacement for BMW

The hunt is on to find a replacement for BMW

All the active F1 teams bar BMW have signed the Concorde Agreement committing them to F1 until the end of 2012.

But with BMW withdrawing their team next year, and former team owner Peter Sauber unable to complete a takeover bid before the deadline for signing the Concorde Agreement, there are doubts over whether the team will be rescued.

The FIA has therefore announced it is re-opening bids for the final slot on the grid, using the same process by which it appointed Manor, Campos Meta 1 and USF1 earlier this year. Who will win the final space on the grid?

Who could get it


On paper The Team Formerly Known As BMW are the front runners – it’s effectively a turn-key operation providing a buyer can be found quickly in order for development to continue on the 2010 car. They will also need a new engine supplier.

But I couldn’t help but notice hiw dejected Peter Sauber seemed at having failed to achieve a rescue of the team at the very short notice needed to get the Concorde Agreement signed:

I am incredibly disappointed and disconsolate. For me this is the bitterest day in my 40-year career in motor sport.
Peter Sauber

Although he can still obtain the final slot in F1 for the team, this remark suggests to me there may be complications preventing BMW from becoming an independent team as easily as Honda did with Brawn.

Epsilon Euskadi

The Spanish outfit were first out of the traps in declaring their desire to take BMW’s place. They were also on the reserve list after the FIA’s first tender for new teams for 2010.


Prodrive have also expressed an interest in taking the final space on the grid. It is widely believed they had a Mercedes engine deal in place for 2010, which did not sit well with the FIA’s desire for the new teams to use Cosworths.


The entry headed by ex-F1 driver Alexander Wurz was another that made the reserve list for 2010.

Who won’t


After the first tender N.Technology won a place on the reserve list. But in June it withdrew its application and angrily criticised the FIA’s selection process.

Its parent company MSC is now taking the FIA to court over the selection process.


Much like N.Technology, Lola applied, failed, made the reserve list, and then withdrew.

Anyone without a Cosworth…

The controversy surrounding the FIA’s selection process concerns whether they demanded new entrants use the FIA-backed Cosworth power plants. This explains why some of the most well-regarded potential entrants such as Prodrive failed to make the cut.

One potential 2010 entrant, Zoran Stefanovic, has gone to the EU to complain about the selection process.

The appearance of Manor on the list of the three new teams for 2010 was a surprise If the FIA sticks to its pro-Cosworth tactics, we could have another unexpected name in F1 next year.

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82 comments on One final spot left on the 2010 F1 grid – who could get it and who won’t

  1. Prisoner Monkeys said on 9th August 2009, 7:23

    I wouldn’t be too surprised if Sauber gets involved with someone like Euskadi. Epsilon-Sauber Sport or something. It makes sense; Euskadi have the backing, Sauber has the name. And while not as famous as the name Williams, Sauber is a name that shouldn’t be allowed to die unless Peter Sauber decides it is time to end his involvement.

    If Sauber decides to go his own way, it will probably come down to him or Epsilon Euskadi. Prodrive’s last attempt at entering Formula One is probably fresh in everyone’s minds, so it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy. I think a lot of that had to do with the decision not to grant them a position in the first place. A lot of their chances will rest of how Richards reacts, really; he’s criticised the FIA lately – for the same reasons as Stefanovic, I think – and Mosley and his boys have never been ones to take criticism lightly.

    As for Team Superfund, I haven’t really heard anything about them since they annouced their application and expressed disappointment at not making the grade. I know they attempted to establish their own single-seat formula and failed utterly, but that may have been a case of biting off more than they can chew. That said, from the way they described their application – and their optimism – they did seem to me as if they were treating the team as a pet project, so the question has to be asked: are they really serious, or is this just a knee-jerk reaction to the success of fellow Austrians Red Bull?

    While it’s likely to come to whoever is willing to nominate a Cosworth, I have heard that Cosworth is only willing to supply three teams because that’s all they have the capacity for. If a new team is accepted with something other than Cosworth, it will mean more trouble because Manor, Campos and USF1 will likely question their engines. A buyout of the team may be the only way forward to get a different engine, but I’ve heard dark rumours that BMW deliberately demanded too much so that Sauber’s management buyout would fail and spare the manufacturer the embarrassment of a Brawn-esque comeback in 2010. If that’s true, who is going to be willing to meet BMW’s extoritionate price simply to make the grid?

  2. Max should resign now!!! said on 9th August 2009, 7:23

    I hope Prodrive gets it…

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 9th August 2009, 7:35

      Why? Because they’re Prodrive? Because they stick it to Max? Neither are very good reasons; whoever gets it will get it based on having the best overall package.

      Dave Richards is a pretty outspoken person at times. And don’t forget that he won the grid opening for 2008, and then persisted with a customer chassis instead of exploring other alternatives. Everyone assumed Prodrive would get one of the three openings, but rather pointedly overlooked their inability to keep their promises and make 2008.

      (By the way, what are you going to do about your name when Mosley is gone?)

      • Amazing that you decide to assume why he said so, and then put him down. He could just be a huge fan of Prodrive, no?

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th August 2009, 8:50

        but rather pointedly overlooked their inability to keep their promises and make 2008.

        Which was entirely the FIA’s fault, not Prodrive’s. Prodrive said they would come in using the customer chassis rules and the FIA failed to get the regulations approved. Can’t blame Prodrive for that.

        • Prisoner Monkeys said on 9th August 2009, 9:33

          But you can blame them for not considering other alternatives. Right from the beginning, the concept of a customer chassis was controversial, a point of contention since the very beginning. Dave Richards should have had a contingency plan in place in the event nothing came of customer chassis regulations, which he plainly didn’t do.

          And even if Richards was totally in the right there and then, when was the last time the FIA acknowledged they screwed up? Regardless of who was to blame for Prodrive’s inability to make the 2008 lineup, the FIA will only remember that they were singled out from twenty-two applicants and still failed to make it.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th August 2009, 9:56

            Dave Richards should have had a contingency plan in place in the event nothing came of customer chassis regulations,

            No, he needn’t have. The FIA sets the rules, it’s not up to Prodrive to second-guess them.

          • Prisoner Monkeys said on 9th August 2009, 10:40

            The FIA sets the rules, it’s not up to Prodrive to second-guess them.

            But it is up to them to plan ahead. I’m not saying the FIA is blame-free, but surely someone like Dave Richards – who knew the sport, knows how the FIA operates – would plan for all outcomes. The phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” springs to mind.

          • It’s a completely unnecessary expense to make. The rules are to be in place, why spend huge amounts of capital designing your own chassis when the rules that are proposed themselves state it is OK?

          • Hakka said on 9th August 2009, 16:19

            @Prisoner Monkeys,

            They would indeed need to plan ahead, but only within the broad set of regs set down by the governing body. You can’t hedge against the governing body itself – because in that case the space of possible changes is infinitely large.

          • matt said on 9th August 2009, 17:32

            Wasn’t it clear when they made that 2008 entry that they would use a customer-chassis from the very beginning? the FIA accepted them then knowing Prodrive’s plans, instead of turning them down or making the rules clear once they’d been selected.

            I really wanted Prodrive too actually.

          • Adam said on 11th August 2009, 1:07

            Its impossible to plan for contingencies in the event that the FIA changes one or more of their rules. There simply would have to be too many contingency plans and no one would ever be able to develop a car to race. Should they have to have contingency plans in case the sport decides on short notice that they are suddenly going diesel? How about if effective immediately all the cars are limited to three wheels? (Granted Renault has recently given that a try.) Or what if rear wings are banned? My point is there are an infinite number of changes that could be made to the large number of technical specs set forth by the FIA. Teams must make their plans based upon the rules that FIA has in place at the time. FIA has a responsibility to make any changes in the regs far enough in advance that all teams are able to adjust to them. The fact that the FIA changed its mind at the last minute puts the blame squarely at the FIA’s feet and can’t be held against Prodrive.

          • Gman said on 13th August 2009, 3:36

            I agree with that- if Richards coulden’t build his own car for 2007 and instread inteded to freeload off McLaren and get into the sport, who’s to say they could build the car now?

        • donwatters said on 9th August 2009, 21:16

          What ever hapened to the 50M deposit Prodrive had to put up for the 08 slot?

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th August 2009, 21:26

            The requirement to lodge a deposit was abolished before that I think.

          • donwatters said on 9th August 2009, 23:14

            Kieth: Are you sure about that?

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th August 2009, 23:47

            Off the top of my head, I think it was dropped for the 2007 season. I remember Super Aguri had to pay it, there was a problem with them not making the deadline. I think they were the last team that had to, and that would have been in 2006.

      • Max should resign now!!! said on 9th August 2009, 20:27

        @ Prisoner Monkeys

        whoever gets it will get it based on having the best overall package.

        LMAO!!! :)

        Hi well first you should just chill for a bit, second of all the whole process for picking up new entries was a fraud (eg. If you’re not runnning on Cosworth engines you’re gone!)if you remember well the strongest names were Lola, Prodrive and well USGPE looked like they had a shot because they were from the states.
        Ok having that in mind I would have preferred Lola to have gain the entry but they have withdrawn their application so well Prodrive seams like they have the money and the staff for competing next year (in the case they get the slot). So any problems with that? Has Richards killed your mum or something?

        PS: Yeah my name…I just found this site (excellent site!!!)during the whole political soap opera and I started posting using it and yes I pretty much hate Mosley, again any problems with that?

        • Gman said on 13th August 2009, 3:40

          No problem with the name, but I do wonder what you’ll do with it when he dose step down. I think PM was asking that out of genuine curiosity rather than anyhting else.

      • sato113 said on 9th August 2009, 22:14

        they do have an overall good package. it’s Prodrive!

  3. Jesus said on 9th August 2009, 7:44

    No one will get it because BMW-Sauber will be bought out.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 9th August 2009, 7:47

      But by whom? Prodrive or Euskadi could easily do it.

      • Achilles said on 9th August 2009, 11:50

        Dave Richards will no to enter F1 to become bankrupt, he was allways strong on F1 being cost effective. The idea that BMW would rather lose the team than see someone else do a better job, appeals to me, particularly as there is a strong suggestion that Theissen would be willing to lead the new team…lets hope that this scenario remains just that..I think an agreement will be reached as Sauber still has a large interest, he will want to see his baby survive, as we write there will be deals being made which will find a good solution to this, could be one of several teams, but Euskadi are well-funded, and it is a ready-made team, like all businessman they will try to get a bargain, we could be waiting for answers up to testing next year….

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th August 2009, 8:51

      With BMW-Sauber not having signed the Concorde, whoever buys them will not automatically get an entry for 2010.

      • Bigbadderboom said on 9th August 2009, 12:04

        But they would remain favourites with the operation in full swing already.

        • Maksutov said on 10th August 2009, 17:03

          I dont know about that. In my opinion BMW have made a mistake for not settling with Sauber. It may be too late now since FIA will reopen the bid anyway.

          This FIA announcement may however put pressure on BMW to settle with Sauber for a reasonable price, but that still does not guarantee them entry. If BMW do not sell they will lose everything, ….it is better for them to sell out then to be stuck with nothing.

  4. better petronas buy the team….petronas f1 team!!!!1st asian f1 team.

  5. Tony W said on 9th August 2009, 9:41

    There is definitley something blocking Peter Sauber from buying out BMW. Even though he owns 20% perhaps theres a clause that says hes not allowed to buy them out, so hes trying to get someone to buy them out for him.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 9th August 2009, 9:49

      He said that BMW’s demands were too high.

      The darker rumours suggest that BMW management did it deliberately, so as to prevent a Sauber-backed management buyout and then showing up in 2010 and humiliating BMW, much the way Brawn did to Honda.

      • Bigbadderboom said on 9th August 2009, 12:10

        It is far less likely though for Sauber to do a “Brawn” BMW gave up last year for this year (in terms of development), as did Honda, so the time frame is a year behind, anybody taking on BMW would not have the advantages Ross Brawn had when taking Honda.
        I think you are right Prisoner Monkeys in respect that BMW are trying to hold off Peter Sauber, but I think they are simply trying to get a better price for their product, and maybe trying to provide a better deal for the teams employees.
        I still think that the ex-BMW team will take the last grid position in one form or another.

    • The thing that is blocking Sauber from buying out BMW is that he doesn’t have the cash. If he did, he never would have sold out in the first place and would have stayed independent.

  6. mp4-19b said on 9th August 2009, 11:13


  7. todd said on 9th August 2009, 11:18

    i think prodrive would be in a good position to get in, they at least are active in racing, have a track record of performance, are profitable and stable with sponsors they could tap into immediately and the contacts to expand on.

    not a random startup with backers that could fall over in a year or two.

    prodrive have the staff and resources already, along with bases in china and australia, why they didn’t get in the first time around in front of USF1 baffles me – considering bernie / FIA apparently aren’t interested in the US market…

    • Gman said on 13th August 2009, 3:46

      What Bernie dosen’t like about the is two things:

      1. We don’t have local/state/federal governments willing to fork over hundreds of millions to build a Tilkedrome, then fork $30 mil a year over to a bloodsucking private equity operation to put on a race. The USA is not a developing nations…it’s a developed one, with plenty of other options for promoters to line up for entertaiment puropses. Which leads me to my next point…

      2. We have a full range of domestic-based sporting series, including NASCAR, that has the attention of mainstream America. Rather than be smart and follow the European fotball/soccer leagues and develop a strategy to best tap into the U.S. market, Bernie throws his toys out of his pram (as some of you guys like to say) and gives up on America, all because he actually needs to do some marketing/promotional work and strategy for people to elarn about and be interested in his product.

      Bernie is interested in the markets that will make him the most money with no hassles…he’s not interested in working on equal terms or finding a price good for everyone.

  8. Oliver said on 9th August 2009, 12:11

    Prodrive are not serious about entering F1 until there are customer cars. Richards doesn’t want to spend time hiring engineers to design cars, or operating large wind tunnels. He is used to a manufacturer providing the equipment and he just running it. Even while at BAR, Honda provided everything. If he was serious about F1 he would have bought Honda for $1.

    BMW have made their assets almost worthless overnight. No team wants to be based in Switzerland. The equipments and infrastructure they have are not easily relocatable, apart from maybe their 2 super computers. Not even sure they will want to sell them.

    Even if a buyer comes forward now, there is no guarantee he will get the available slot. So why buy expensive equipments to watch gather dust. Why didn’t they just sign the concord agreement, then sell the team. A name is easier to change than it is to get entry into F1.

    I still have a feeling BMW is really interested in destroying everything rather than selling it. If we assume they were using F1 for marketing, as far as I know, you can’t sell of your brand advertising to another company, only maybe your advert space. But if your advert space is on land about to be repossessed, then that too is worthless.

    • Journeyer said on 9th August 2009, 16:09

      Perhaps BMW wanted to ensure that they either:

      1. Make a decent profit of this, or
      2. Failing the former, destroy everything to avoid getting embarrassed ala Brawn/Honda.

      Different carmakers, different approaches.

      • Maksutov said on 10th August 2009, 17:07

        I agree with your #1 statement. It simply is making decent profit. Or at least covering all their costs. Maybe Sauber is the one who was offering the unreasonable amount, we will never know until we see some figures.

    • Hakka said on 9th August 2009, 16:25

      I still have a feeling BMW is really interested in destroying everything rather than selling it.

      Perhaps they get a tax break if they do that :D

      While we’re speculating around this: another incentive to destroy an asset is to hide creative book-keeping (shoveling unrelated losses into the soon-to-be-destroyed asset).

      Can’t wait for the racing to start. Especially Spa.

  9. Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 9th August 2009, 15:47

    Ok Ok, I’ll do it…

  10. mattB said on 9th August 2009, 16:42

    Can you see now why Sir Frank refused to increase his partnership with BMW?? Many thought he was crazy to turn down the offer of becoming a manufacturer team at a time when big-spending manufacturers were becoming the norm. Max even told him his business model was obsolete.

    How times change.

    • Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 9th August 2009, 17:50

      When it comes to all matters F1, don’t bother trying to wrong foot Sir Frank Williams.

      • mattB said on 9th August 2009, 18:01

        Indeed. I was concerned at the time that it could spell the end of Williams when BMW left. Coincidentally, was that the last time Cosworth was on the grid?

    • Oliver said on 10th August 2009, 9:30

      Well if it was a Williams-BMW there likely wouldn’t have been any problems. But a BMW-Williams is another matter.

  11. “– who knew the sport, knows how the FIA operates – would plan for all outcomes.”

    Deciding not to play could have been a planned outcome on Prodrive’s part. I have to believe they invested heavily on the customer car platform under which they were chosen back in ’08. Sometimes it takes more courage to walk away than continue tilting at windmills.

    I also approve of BMW’s exit strategy. We all get caught up in the humanistic strategy of continuing to support a business and their employees, as Honda did. BMW have recognized the failure of their management and are prepared to write it off in it’s entirety as opposed to continue subsidizing the effort the way Honda has with Brawn. Or receive fair dollar value for their assets. While still making a marginal profit the bean counters will find a way to write off BMW’s racing losses.

    Brawn is far from being self supporting, their is no published news or rumors of sponsorship for next year. Let’s re-visit Brawn at the end of 2010 to see how successful the Honda-Brawn transition truly is.

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th August 2009, 17:49

    The Guardian reckon Epsilon Euskadi are the front runners, though it doesn’t say what they’re basing that on:

    • sato113 said on 9th August 2009, 22:19

      as usual.

    • TommyB said on 9th August 2009, 22:59

      Can’t wait for F1 to become a F3 style series full of little teams. NOT

      • Maksutov said on 10th August 2009, 17:19

        dont worry, these little teams will wash out in about 2 years, when they realize that limited money and budget cap doesn’t actually work. In order for them to develop their cars they also need to have great brains and exceptional engineers (which you have to pay and offer top dollar) to become competitive. On the end of the day, regardless of this retarded “cost capping” rule, the teams that can afford will always have the ability to develop their cars more efficiently.

  13. Brian said on 9th August 2009, 18:00

    Prodrive is eventually supposed to bring Aston Martin into the sport, right? At least that is what I always understood. That is the only reason I would like to see Prodrive come into the sport. It is the first step in getting all of the major engine producers into F1.

    I would also like to see Zoran get that last spot. I would love to see what kind of car a real Aerospace company could build.

    Obviously thought, I should get it. My team would the sexiest F1 name ever, ‘Brian’s GP’. Thats right, I said it.

    • sato113 said on 9th August 2009, 22:21

      yeah would love to see an Aston Martin team in F1! with a nice dark green livery. however I doubt they’d build/run an Aston Martin engine (unfortunately). probs ask mercedes for one…

  14. Sauber still has an operation all ready to go, and probably are already working on the 2010 car, which with both Sauber and BMW’s history will be pretty good.

    So I would say that Sauber is probably still the front runner, but as has been said before, who will buy it and what engines. Cosworth would be the cheapest powerplant, but someone who has the financial clout could come along and enter F1.

    Hyundai said a few years ago that it planned to enter F1 by 2010. This could be their chance. And the credit crunch hasn’t been so harsh towards them, so they couyld easily enter. A rebadged Cosworth engine and hey presto – Hyundai F1 Team.

    Just a thought.

  15. I can’t see Prodrive getting the nod. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the customer cars debacle, the fact remains that Prodrive were granted an entry for 2008 and failed to make the grid. That has to count against them, and if it doesn’t then the FIA are even more shambolically disorganised than previously thought.

    • Maksutov said on 10th August 2009, 17:23

      Max is still in power and playing manipulative games all the way. So, I’d say FIA are just as disorganized as before.

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