Will Stefan GP ever appear on the Formula 1 grid? It’s a question many had in the past and many still have after Zoran Stefanovic announced he spoke with Ross Brawn about the plans to enter the Formula One with his own team in 2019. Zoran tried it in the past a couple of times and was close when he took had an agreement with Toyota Motorsports where he acquired the design of Toyota’s 2010 chassis, but in favour of others he got denied.
Autosport.com came this weekend with the news that Zoran had revealed plans for another attempt to enter the Formula 1 with his own team. Zoran told them that he set up facilities in Parma and former Williams and Ferrari designer, but better known as mister UnracedF1, Enrique Scalabroni is in charge of the new chassis and the technical Aspects. Is it a good move from Zoran to bring Stefan GP back to the Formula 1?
Well for that, you have to understand the history of the team, the first time the name of Stefan GP appeared in the paddock was in the period between 1996 and 1998. In October 1996 some rumours reached the paddock of an all Serbian team to join the F1 in 1997. Back then, Zoran told the Formula 1 media that 65% of the budget required had already been secured. It was said that Zoran hired George Ryton, Former head of Ferrari’s Italian Design office. However, Ryton denied he signed a contract and only gave some advice. Stefan GP was informed by the FIA and the FOCA but none of them was interested to meet with Zoran.
A year later in 1997 the Lola MasterCard team made it’s appearance on the grid however we all know what happened with the team. After the Brazilian Grand Prix the team went into bankruptcy. The rumours back then went that Zoran Stefanovic was planning to take over the Lola MasterCard team directly after the team left the Brazilian Grand Prix to secure himself a starting grid for the current and next season. The deal went off the table due the lack of finance and for the fact that the Lola T97/30 was a terrible car. It would take months for the Stefan GP to make the cars a bit driveable.
During the next years nothing was heard of Stefan GP and it seems Zoran stopped dreaming. However, after the Economic crisis hit the world, and Formula 1 teams as BMW, Honda left the Formula One. During the last few races of 2009, Stefanovic popped up in the paddock looking for opportunities to enter the Formula 1 in 2010 with Stefan GP. The team was quickly linked to the Toyota team, which was struggling in the Formula One since their first race in 2002. After the last race of the season Toyota left the Formula One but not before it made an interesting deal with Zoran. Stefan GP acquired the chassis of the unraced TF110. The car looked promising and seemed to be able to fight for podiums. Kazuki Nakajima was contracted as the first driver and he tested with the TF110 at Cologne. However, the problem for the 2010 season was the announcement of the FIA that everyone was able to make a bid for the new season to be on the grid. Many teams did and since Stefan GP did not have the starting papers from Toyota. Resulting that USF1, Manor, Campos and Lotus Racing where acquired to enter the Formula One in 2010.
Soon it would become clear that the USF1 team did not have the financial base as they said they had, having Stefan GP already a car for the 2010 season there was a chance that the team would take the 13th grid place from USF1. However, the FIA denied the application of the team in favour of the Sauber F1 Team. The season would start with 24 cars. We all know what happened with the new teams none survived. A year later Zoran did a bid for a grid place in 2011 but this bid was denied by the FIA. While Stefan GP was one of the few teams that did a bid, none of them got selected and the grid spot stayed empty.
Again for years nothing there was less activity of Zoran Stefanovic, expect for a small rumour in 2014 about the interest from Zoran to take over the, close to bankruptcy, Catherham F1 Team. Until last weekend when Zoran Stefanovic announced he was interested to bring the team to the Formula 1 in 2019. You could ask yourself why in 2019? There will be new regulations and rules in the Formula 1, probably there will be V8 engines again or even better V10 engines. Every team has to start from zero again, which gives new teams a decent opportunity to be more competitive. In addition, the rumours of the China F1 Racing Team and fact that there are only 10 teams on the grid could be a trigger to enter the Formula 1.
Personally i really hope Stefan GP will be on the grid in 2019. I never understood why the team was not on the 2010 grid, would they be too good for the grid and score podiums instantly? We will never know. My last words, Zoran let’s bring Stefan GP to the grid and show everyone why the team should be on the grid. In 20 years 5 attempts and the latest attempt with Enrqiue Scalabroni one of the main characters in many stories. WOW!