Plans revealed for new Italian F1 team

Zoran Stefanovic, the businessman behind the failed effort to establish a Formula One team named Stefan GP, has revealed he is planning to form a new Italian-based entry for the motor racing series.

Stefanovic told the Autosport website that he held meetings with Ross Brawn, the managing director of F1’s motorsport division, at the weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. He previously owned the Stefan GP entity, which attempted to enter F1 in 2010 only to have its bid rejected by the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

Stefanovic said he has established a base in the Italian city of Parma and hired former Williams and Ferrari employee Enrique Scalabroni to work on the technical aspects of the team, already reaching an agreement to use a wind tunnel facility.

Stefanovic told Autosport: “I am here to meet Ross Brawn because I am setting up an F1 team based in Italy. Before coming to Austria I've put together some very important agreements: I defined that it will be based in Parma, which is located a reasonable distance from the wind tunnel. I've also signed a contract with a specialist in aerodynamics to help work on the project.”

Stefanovic said he will seek to build the team over the next year with a view to targeting an entry for the 2019 season. However, any such bid would be dependent on the FIA opening a new tender process.

FIA president Jean Todt last month confirmed the governing body had been approached by entities interested in forming new Formula One teams, amid reports of plans for a Chinese entry. The motor racing series entered its 2017 season with 10 teams on the grid following the demise of the Manor squad.

Formula One’s most recent new entry came last season as US team Haas entered the grid. F1 retained an 11-team grid for its 2016 season after the FIA rejected approaches from two bidders to enter new teams in the motor-racing championship.

The previous tender process came with a number of current teams suffering financially and Formula One having been bruised by the experience of its most recent attempt to bolster the grid. Marussia, Caterham and HRT all entered Formula One in 2010. However, Spanish-based HRT folded at the end of 2012, while Caterham collapsed at the end of the 2014 season. Marussia, which transformed into Manor, officially folded in January.

The FIA would decide whether to issue a fresh tender process and Todt said it would only do so when serious candidates are presented. “When we feel it is time we will be able to make a tender,” he said. “At the moment we have 10 teams and the idea is to have up to 12 teams. So we have an opportunity, if we have one or two strong newcomers it could be possible.”