In August 2019 i wrote my first article regarding Panthera Team Asia F1, they arrived! Their original plans were to debut in 2021. Remind yourself at that point there was no covid-19 pandemic. There were even more teams that announced they were interested to debut in 2021. As the new rules were more suitable to the current once. However, Panthera was one of the most serious attempt. Anno January 2021 there is no Panthera did they leave for good?
It was big news in 2019 when Panthera Team Asia F1, as their full name is, announced their plans to debut in the Formula One. The same time several other groups announced their interest to fill up the grid. Would we have a grid with 13 or even 14 teams? Well, we know now that that is not the case. The case is that there is no new team on the grid in 2021 nor will there be a new team in 2022. It is even questionable if we remain the 10 teams.
Last year in March the whole world stood still, Covid-19 happened a pandemic we never saw since the Spanish flew a century ago. The Formula One arrived in Australia though withdraw from the country, some engineer from McLaren had Covid-19. It would take months before the Formula One would race again. 2020 became a very enjoyable, expect for the Mercedes domination, season with new tracks, crazy races and several new drivers.
In between Australia and the first race in 2020 the decision was made to keep the current rules for 2021, the team are not allowed to change that much of the cars. In 2022, the new Concorde agreement would be implemented. This meant that the team did not have to spend much money for 2021. As well, the decision was made that the entry fee for a new team would be 200 million Dollars. Personally, I don’t get this, some say this well keep “the cowboy teams” out of the paddock. Neither less say a new team will only benefit when it’s two years active in the Formula One.
Besides the 200 million-entry fee, in June 2020 theinsideline.com had an interview with team Principal Benjamin Durand. During the interview, Benjamin told that they were more or less shocked of the amount of Money. However, the team would still keep on working to make their debut on the grid in 2022. However, as quoted “obviously this is not good news” This was in June 2020.
The same time Durand said that Panthera was in discussion with its shareholders how to manage enough financial backing to debut in the Formula One, and cover the 200 million entrée-fee. After that, it became silence around the team. In November 2020 former Renault supremo, Cyril Abiteboul explained that several “new teams” were interested to use the Renault Engines. This could mean that Panthera could be one of their new customers. He named no teams. However, the other story circulating, that the team would debut in 2025 in the Formula One. When there are new regulations coming.
So where are we now? I believe that Panthera Team Asia F1 will not happen at all in the near future; perhaps it will never happen at all. One of the mean reasons is the lack of information coming from the newly formed team. Another reason, there is no such thing as social accounts. The team is now rumoured two / three years. Key personal are known, though there has not been made an attempt to make socials. On facebook is an page for Panthera however it could be a fan based page with no posts the last 1,5 year. Neither is there a website registered, as far as im aware of, for the team.
There is another thing, I’m not an economic. However, when looking at the unaudited financial statements of the team, which can be found here, nothing much has happened in 2020. Now I’m not sure what the numbers exactly shown. However, it shown there was almost none activity in the company. Neither are there more people working for the company than Benjamin Durand, Michel Orts and Tim Milne who is the head of aerodynamics according to his LinkedIn profile.
While the interview, as mentioned already, gave some glimpse of hope since then nothing has happened. Neither is there a logo of the team, which makes it a bit shady if the team will ever appear. Alternatively, that they abandoned their dream to debut in the Formula One. Ross Brown stated even that there are no talks going with potential teams to enter the Formula One in next year.
Well I would say Panthera would not arrive at all; there is a way they still can. They could buyout an existing team on the grid. Rumours go that Alfa Romeo could leave the Sauber team as title sponsor. As well are there still the rumours surrounding Williams F1 Team that could be sold once more. However, there aren’t much other options left to appear on the grid. Or will it be 2025?