Villeneuve Racing looking ‘to buy into existing team’ in 2011

By Gareth Llewellyn
jacques Villeneuve
Jacques Villeneuve (Photo: Freewheeling Daredevil)

jacques Villeneuve

Despite being denied entry for the 2011 Formula 1 season, Villeneuve Racing could still join after following rival bidder Epsilon Euskadi’s plans to buy into an existing team.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council decided not to award entry to a 13th team, despite several bids from a number of existing motor racing teams.

Both the Villeneuve/Durango and Epsilon parties have said they will seek ‘alternative’ ways of joining, with the teams now taking up the advice of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, which was to consider buying into existing teams rather than trying to finance their own operation.

A statement on the Villeneuve website read: “The Villeneuve Racing entity did not get approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council to enter the 2011 Formula One World Championship.

“F1’s governing body turned down all the entries from teams hoping to fill the vacant 13th slot on the grid for next season. Villeneuve Racing will now look at options open to them for the purchase of an existing F1 team, with which to enter the championship.”

Villeneuve’s bid faltered when examining the long-term financial stability of the team beyond the first year in the sport. Former GP2 team Durango were to inject the majority of the money, with the rest coming from investors and sponsors.

The most likely option for Villeneuve is to buy into, or buy out, the Virgin-branded Manor Racing team, as Epsilon seek to strike a deal with financially-struggling Spanish team Hispania Racing.

One of Villeneuve’s former teams, Sauber, have also been subject to buy-out rumours, with Peter Sauber denying he is seeking additional investors after buying his team back from BMW following their withdrawal from F1 at the end of 2009.

Durango have also confirmed the possibility of buying into an existing team. Spokesman Giuseppe Dorigo said: “The only way to enter F1 in 2011 is to buy an existing team, and as planned we will do it together with Jacques Villeneuve. We believe it’s worth it. Our only goal now is to be on the starting grid next year.”

Villeneuve had been set to take one of the race seats had his bid been successful, and it is believed he would take one of those as Manor Racing—should a deal go through—leaving Timo Glock or Lucas di Grassi facing the possibility of being without a drive for 2011.

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