Epsilon Euskadi may merge with Hispania Racing for 2011
Formula 1 hopefuls Epsilon Euskadi could merge with current backmarkers Hispania Racing to guarantee entry into the sport for 2011.
The Basque-based Epsilon team are one of three major bids to join F1’s elite next year, while HRT have struggled with finances during their debut season after starting out as Campos Meta.
Epsilon are up against strong bids from former world champion Jacques Villeneuve with former GP2 team Durango, while Stefan GP are another contender for the 13th place following the withdrawal of the much-fancied GP2 outfit ART.
Bernie Ecclestone has already expressed his contentment at having just 20 cars on the grid, and has declared that two current teams do not deserve to be in the sport – understood by everyone to be HRT and Virgin Racing branded Manor GP team.
Ecclestone has also said a merger with an existing team would be a good solution – and it is this option which could seem the most viable for HRT to continue and Joan Villadelprat’s Epsilon outfit to enter the sport.
Incredibly, HRT have yet to sign a deal with a manufacturer to build their 2011 car, after ending their relationship with Dallara. And there is a real possibility that the team, in its current situation, might not make it 2011.
Talks of a deal with Toyota to provide chassis and gearbox design and support appear to have stalled because of HRT’s financial problems.
Villadelprat has reportedly been in contact with HRT owner Jose Ramon Carabante to establish “what Hispania needs, what Epsilon can offer and if there is the possibility of collaboration”.
In Epsilon’s favour is the excellent infrastructure already in place, which would rival the big teams currently in F1.
With finances being the primary issue for HRT, it could be better for both teams -and the sport in general -to pool their resources, rather than having two teams lagging at the back of the grid.
Initially, they may continue to rely on drivers bringing sponsorship to the team -as Bruno Senna, Karun Chandhok, and Sakon Yamamoto do -but in Villadelprat and Sergio Rinland, Epsilon have two men with plenty of F1 experience and with a sensible multi-year strategy, they should be able to attract more corporate partners to fund their efforts.
With that, the new team should be able to move from buying a customer chassis to develop its own car, and push on to challenge the middle order teams.
If they do not merge, it is very difficult to see how both teams could possibly make it beyond 2011.