Panthera Team Asia F1 arrives! Well that’s all what we hope ofcourse. A week ago, the news hit the paddock as a bombshell a new team will appear on the grid in 2021. Why 2021? Simple, it’s planned that the new concord agreement will be in working per 2021. Let dig deeper into this new attempt.
The last couple of years several rumours appeared in the media of teams to enter the Formula One either in 2019 or 2021. Do you remember the rumours of China F1 Racing Team Ltd? The team was registered in the summer of 2017. Later on, when the rumours left the paddock China F1 Racing Team Ltd was re-registered back to it’s old name Bronze Fortune Limited. As you can read here.
Around the same time as China F1 Racing Team Ltd. arrived in the rumour mill another, unknown, attempt was made for a Chinese F1 team. Until today it is unknown who was behind this plan. All I know is that these unknown investors were to enter the Formula One in 2019 or 2020 with an Spanish based F2 team. Back then this could only be Racing Engineering and Campos Racing as you can read here. Neither this unknown project nor the Chinese F1 Team Ltd ever made it.
So who is behind Panthera Team Asia F1, officially PANTHERA TEAM ASIA LIMITED)? Benjamin Charles Durand is one of the key players of the Panthera team. Durand was previously active in the World Endurance Championship as Managing Director of SMP Racing and BR Engineering. If you search deeper in the documents, you will find out that Michel Orts is the second founder of the Panthera Team. Both Durand and Orts are French from origin. It would not surprise me if It becomes an Renault B-Team. The team has their temporary headquarters near the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire.
Some side info about Michel Orts. He was involved with the Chinese F1 Racing Team Ltd two years ago, as mentioned just above. As well, Orts was a race driver himself during 2003 and 2009 active in the sportscars.
Panthera registered on the 28th of January 2019, which actually confirms the news that the team has been working since begin this year to lay down their structure. As well, the Pantherea Team filled in several senior positions. Time Milne is the head of aerodynamics who already has F1 experience. He used to work for teams as Renault, Toyota, Super Aguri and most recently he worked for Manor, and was part of the team that build the unraced Manor MRT 06 and will now work on the brand new car.
Currently there are three free slots available on the grid. Therefore, it would be a good thing for Panthera to arrive on the grid in 2021. There are already details available for the team’s setup. Their idea is for a similar set up as Haas has. It would make it easier to debut with a new team, rather to develop and design everything yourself. There is only one problem. An entry fee of 200 million dollars. It’s a share between the existing teams, as they are mourning, I can‘t believe it either. While they are yapping about a budget maximum, the entry fee is 200 million dollars.
Why the team’s name is Panthera Team Asia F1 I can only explain for the matter that one of the directors, Michel Orts, was involved with the Chinese F1 Team back in 2017. Probably there is Chinese money involved with the project. Otherwise, I can’t connect the dots.
As it is unknown when the new concord agreement will be set, Panthera Team Asia F1 is unable to work actually on their car as it is unsure how the technical regulations will be for the 2021 season. It is unlikely as well that the concord agreement for 2021 will be confirmed before the end of October. Neither the team has yet formally approached the FIA to lodge an entry for 2021. The team hopes, and it is expected by many, that the sport’s governing body will open a tender for new teams once the 2021 regulations are clear and published.
The team, not sure if legit, has a facebook page, though it could be a troll account of someone. To be continued! Or not.