2008: The forgotten FIA application for new teams

Unraced 2000 - 2009

Everyone remembers the application the FIA opened in 2008 for new teams to debut in 2010. However, did you know the FIA opened an application in 2006 for new teams to enter the Formula 1 in 2008? On the 14th of February 2006 the bid was opened. Twenty-two teams applied for an entry in 2008. I could uncover 20 of these, included were the teams that already raced in the F1.  The FIA announced on the 28th of April Prodrive was the only team to retrieve a space on the grid. In the end none of them would ever appear on the grid in 2008, what happened? In addition, who were all those applicants?

It was the 31th of March 2006 that the FIA published that 22 teams were interested to enter the Formula 1 in 2008. All of the applicants were invited for a gathering in London on the 10th of April 2006. During the gathering, the FIA explained the plans and their expectations of the new teams. In the end, Prodrive was granted entry for 2008. On the concept entry list of 2008 published the 28th of April 2006, Prodrive was on there. 

So we know now that the teams that were active in 2006 were granted a place on the grid and Prodrive. Who were those other interested parties that did their best, or at least had massive interest, to enter the Formula 1 in 2008? Well some of them are interesting. Like Adam Khan!?

BMW Sauber F1 Team
It was not surprising BMW would stay in the Formula One at all. The team just purchased the Sauber team from Peter Sauber and was on its way to form an all BMW team. In 2008, Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica would race for the team.

Honda Racing F1 Team
Like BMW Honda also purchased a team, in this case it was BAR. Honda was since the beginning the engine supplier, as the company had hunger for more it was obvious they would purchase BAR. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello would race for the team in 2008.

MF1 Racing
In 2005 Midland F1 Racing purchased Jordan Grand Prix, as known the owner Alex Shaider, was not a fan at all of his own F1 team and was to sell the team to Spyker from Victor Muller in late 2006. However, as the team was on the grid they signed the contract as well. In 2008 the team was again purchased, this time by the Indian entrepreneur vijay mallya. The team would appear in 2008 on the grid as Force India. Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella were the drivers.

Red Bull Racing
In 2006 Red Bull Racing was a new team, though ready to take over the leading place from Ferrari and McLaren in the later years. It was obviously RBR would stay in the Formula One. In 2008, David Coulthard and Mark Webber were the drivers.   

Mild Seven Renault F1 Team
In 2006 Renault was the favourite for both the titles. 2005 and 2006, Fernando Alonso became world champion with Renault. In 2008, the team had a new sponsor in ING and Fernando Alonso, who came back from an adventure with McLaren in 2007, Nelson Piquet Jr. were the drivers.

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
While Ferrari once one threatened to leave the Formula One because they were not happy with the announced rules for 2008. The team would stay in the Formula 1. In 2008, Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa would take place behind the wheel of the Ferrari.

Super Aguri F1 Team
In 2006 the team made their debut in the old though rule adapted Arrows A23. In 2007 the team had set some big steps and was ready for the future it seemed. The team signed them selve in for 2008. However, Super Aguri would only race a couple of races in 2008. The team was in financial struggle. One of their sponsors was more or less a hoax. While saviours were on the go to rescue the team. The Indian consortium led by the CEO of Spice Group and later in Magma Group came to late to rescue the team. The team left the 6th of May 2008

Scuderia Toro Rosso
As counts for Honda, BMW and Midland F1 Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso debuted in 2006 on the fundaments of Minardi F1 Team. In 2005, Red Bull purchased Minardi to create their own B-team or Junior team. In 2008, Sébastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel would race for the team.

Panasonic Toyota Racing
In 2006 it looked more promising for the team after investing 100s of million they finally booked some progression. They signed the deal for 2008 as there was a new perspective of the V8 engine. Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock would race for the team in 2008. The last year for Toyota Racing as team in the F1.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Like Ferrari, McLaren is one of these teams that will never disappear from the grid. The team contracted Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen for 2008.

Williams F1 Team
Another team we assumed to be forever in the Formula 1, until 2020 happened. However, in 2006 the situation was completely different for the team. The team was of course presented on the grid in 2008, and Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima would race for the team.

These were the teams that were already announced to stay in the Formula One, and to be on the grid in 2008. However, on the concept entry list the FIA spread, as earlier mentioned, Prodrive was on it as well. Why did they not appear on the grid in 2008?

Prodrive was the team of David Richards, who became big in the Rally Racing with Peter Solberg and Colin McRae as their top drivers. The team used to use the Subaru’s in the rally racing. In April 2006 the team was announced by the FIA as the only new team for 2008, to appear on the grid. It was Richards intention to become McLarens Junior team and to use the team’s older chassis. Nothing strange you would say. Toro Rosso did the same with Red Bull Racing. However, Williams was not happy with the deal that was in the making between Ron Dennis and David Richards.

First of all it was rumoured the Prodrive team only had a couple of people on their payroll. Second of all Williams knew, they would score fewer points when they would use McLarens chassis. Williams went to the court. On Wednesday the 24th of October 2007 a hearing was opened in a courtyard in London.

Williams had earlier send the FIA a letter questioning the legitimacy of Prodrive’s intention of using a one-year-old chassis from McLaren. On ground of Article 1 Williams went to set up a hearing. Eventually David Richards withdrew from the Formula One scene even before the team had driven one meter on the grid with a car. Can me blame Williams for it, I believe so we can.

However, this attempt was not the first one for Prodrive to enter the Formula One. I’m aware for the fact that the team tried it a few times in the 1990s.  In 1994, 1996 and 1998 the team was already rumoured to be interested to enter the Formula One. At that time, David Richards worked for the Benetton F1 Team as well.

So now you learned a lot about the hectic surrounding the Prodrive project. Who were the other teams that were interested to enter the Formula 1? The FIA announced to have received 22 applicants. I could uncover 20 of them; however, there were another several teams rumoured to be interested. A few of them I was able to debunk. They can been seen at the ==Rumoured / Non Entries== part of this article.

European Minardi F1 Team Ltd.
Lets start with the most interesting one. In 2005 Paul Stoddart sold the Minardi team to Red Bull, which became Scuderia Toro Rosso. However, Paul Stoddart did not sell the right of the Minardi new. Stoddart never made a secret out of it he would have loved it to stay in the Formula One.Perhaps 2008 was the chance to bring Minardi back on the grid. There would be a cost reduction in the Formula One, the well-known (never happened so far) budget cap. Was it serious? Well It was however, Paul Stoddart said in 2006 that he was far from sure Minardi could return. Only if the GPDMA decided to create their own series Minardi would return.

Back in 2006 when the news appeared of a comeback of Minardi, jokes surrounded the team that Minardi would enter the 2008 season with the Minardi PS04 cars. As Stoddart was keen on his money and did not sell these cars to Red Bull Racing. It has to be said as well. Paul Stoddart and Max Mosley were not best buddies. They were more each other enemies in the Formula One. If Mosley would have agreed with Paul Stoddart returning on the grid? …

Jordan Grand Prix
Another interesting name that appeared on the list was that of Jordan Grand Prix. Eddie Jordan, who sold his team to Alex Shaider in 2005. Was ready to return in the Formula One. Moreover, due to the budget cap that would be implemented in 2008. As well, Eddie Jordan had a warm relationship with Bernie Ecclestone. Eventually Gary Anderson acknowledge that Jordan Grand Prix was on their way back to enter the Formula One. Sadly, Jordan Grand Prix would not return on the grid as a team. Eddie Jordan would return as commentator during the races.

Direxiv Motorsport
Direxiv Motorsport had the same idea as Prodrive had. To become McLaren’s Junior team in the Formula One. With the exact same formula by purchasing the one year old chassis of McLaren. The team had an impressive management team already for their F1 project. Alexander Wurz and Jean Alesi would led the team into the Formula One, was their idea. McLaren however had more trust in Prodrive. The full story of Direxiv can be read here.

Carlin Motorsport
Two days after Carlin Motorsport booked their 100th win in their carreer the team announced their interest in the Formula One. In addition, applied for one of the available spots on the grid. Trevor Carlin was convinced that the new regulations for 2008 the FIA would introduce would help new teams. The budget cap, there he is again, was for most of the applicants the reason to apply. Where Paul Stoddart to have the favour not to be friends with Max Mosley, Trevor Carlin on the other hand did have the favour and even the blessings from Max Mosley to be on the grid. The team was already working to build or buy a new fabric so their foundation for the F1 would be well prepared.

Irvine Racing
Eddie Irvine has already been one of those personalities everyone liked or just hated. I actually loved him. After his F1 carreer ended with Jaguar he was looking to buy an F1 Team. It has been said that already in 2002 he was looking into Orange Arrows, I can’t have this 100% confirmed. Later in 2004 with the backing of his Russian business partner Roustam Tariko he was interested in Jordan Grand Prix. After Alex Shaider purchased the team. Irvine looked after the Minardi F1 Team though wasn’t able to purchase the team either. In early 2006, the idea was to begin a team from scratch. The application was made. However, nothing was heard of it.

Baram is perhaps for many an unknown name. To be honest when you read or hear the name Baram you probably thin it is some shady construction or team. Baram is an American consortium led by former BAR team-boss Craig Pollock. In 2002, Baram already appeared on the surface when they were one of the parties that was interested to purchase the Orange Arrows team from Tom Walkinshaw. In 2006, Baram resurfaced. Craig Pollock announced they were ready to enter the Formula One in 2008. Eventually, like the rest of these applicants, they did not receive an entry.

BCM Competicion
BCM Competicion is one the Spanish based teams that was on the applicant list from the FIA. Enrique Scalabroni purchased the Nordic Racing team and rebranded it to BCM Competicion. The team was active in the GP2. And showed some decent results. It was not a secret that Enrique Scalabroni was still interested in the Formula One. Back in 2002 he announced the Asiatech F1 Team. Now with BCM he was ready to enter the Formula One.

Durango was linked multiple times with a debut in the Formula One. Especially in the 1990s the team came pretty close to enter the Formula One. It seemed the team was ready to finally arrive in the Formula One in 2008. However, there was no Durango on the grid in 2008.

==Rumoured / Non Entries==
There were several teams announced in the media to be interested or already applied for a bid on one of the places on the grid available. The teams below told explicit in the media that they did not apply for a place on the grid in 2008.

Team Penske
Team Penske was perhaps one of the interesting names rumoured to be ready to enter the Formula One once more. The team was in the 70s already on the grid and showed, back then, some decent results with a couple of podiums and even a win! They left the Formula One in 1976. The team came in April 2006 in the news that they were to make a bid for a place on the grid in 2008. However, the team debunked these rumours and said they had their focused on their Nascar and Indycar teams.

Art Grand Prix
Art Grand Prix was one of the top teams in the GP2 back in 2006. Like more teams had done before in the F3000 it would not be strange to seen them moving towards Formula One. However, the team had no intentions to enter the Formula One in the near future. Due the costs.

Arden International
Another team that has been successful in the lower Formulae series. The team is well known from the early 2000’s when Christian Horner (team boss for RBR) was the team manager. The team denied their interest and their intentions to be active in the Formula One as well.

Piquet Sports
Piquet Sports was the GP2 team from former World champion Nelson Piquet. It was said that, with the support of Bernie Ecclestone, Piquet Sports was to make a bid for the 2008 season. However, Nelsinho Piquet Jr. announced in the media that his father had no intentions at all to enter the Formula One with Piquet Sports.

Racing Engineering
Racing Engineering is the team of Spanish royal relative Alfonso Orleans-Borbon. The team was active in the GP2 in 2006 with decent results. The team is well known for its livery with Repsol and Telefonica sponsorship. In April 2006, Alfonso said to have no intentions to bring Racing Engineering on the grid in the Formula One for now. He was interested still to be in the F1.

Michael Schumacher Racing
In 2006 here were rumours that Michael Schumacher was looking to start his own Formula One team as team principal. The well-informed Eddie Jordan came as first with the news. Were the first reaction on it sceptical, the news became more serious during the days. It would not have been difficult for Schumacher to attract sponsors for his team; as well, the technical support would probably come from Ferrari.

Adam Khan Racing
To be honest, I didn’t believe this story that Adam Khan was looking to debut in the Formula One as team principal for his own team. He drove in the A1GP series for Team Pakistan. It has been said there was serious interest from Khan’s side to enter the Formula One in 2008. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was just a made up story. Still I mentioned it here.