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F1 NEWS 

Epsilon confirms 2010 F1 entry attempt

Joan VilladelpratThe Epsilon Euskadi team has officially confirmed that it has submitted its entry to compete in Formula 1 next season.

Epsilon boss Joan Villadelprat said the team wanted to be silent until the necessary budget was in place, but the former F1 team manager has revealed he has now secured the finances for the next four years if the Spanish squad is chosen by the FIA on 12th June, when the entry list for 2010 will be announced.

"We can confirm it now," Villadelprat told AUTOSPORT in an interview. "Our entry was submitted last week. We lodged it on Wednesday and received confirmation by the FIA on Thursday. I was being discreet and didn't want to talk too much because I was finalising the financial part."

He added: "Now we can say we have a budget ready for the four next years. The difference between ourselves and other people is that, first, we have a project that's different from everybody else's, with a social output, which is what Max Mosley is looking for. We have the mechanics' school, the engineers' school, the lower categories, from karting, Formula Renault 2.0 and the World Series.

"We have the infrastructure, with an investment of 65 million, something that not everybody has. We have a wind tunnel, autoclaves, etc. And right now I can say that, if we are chosen, we have the budget secured for the next four years," said the Spaniard, who worked in Formula 1 for 25 years, with spells at McLaren, Ferrari and Renault among other teams.

Villadelprat, whose team has raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours with its own LMP1 car, said Epsilon has submitted its entry with the new budget cap rules in mind.

But the team boss admitted he was not too worried about the possibility that the cap could be increased, as he reckons he has the necessary budget to do a good job.

"At this point it doesn't matter to us," he said when asked if the team would compete under budget cap rules. "What I've done is do the maths, and I don't think I got it wrong because I have been doing it for many years, to see what we need to do things right. And we have the budget secured to do things right.

"We submitted our entry with the budget cap in mind, but we are waiting for the FIA to decide what the final rules will be. As of today, we are under the budget cap, but the budget cap is a bit misleading, because it's 45 million plus drivers, plus marketing and a series of things. The budget I think is needed is around 70-75 million."

Villadelprat feels his team deserves the chance to compete in grand prix racing, and he reckons Epsilon is in a strong position thanks to its infrastructure and its philosophy.

"I know what I need. I know the amount of money I need," Villadelprat added. "We are not starting from zero. We are constructors. We have proved that. We have built Le Mans cars which have been competitive. So I think there's enough to show that at least we deserve the chance.

"I'm doing it with humbleness and seriousness. Because I know, and few people do, what it is to be in Formula 1. I've been in Formula 1 for 25 years, and I've led teams from the bottom to the top. Benetton was a team that nobody knew and in five years we were world champions. So I know what it is to start a project like this, and I know I can do it again.

"In Formula 1 it has been made very clear that money is not everything, because not all the teams with big budgets have done a decent job over the last years. So money is not everything. It's about organisation, about know-how, about creating a good team, and about having the resources to launch the project. But the decision is up to the FIA, and I hope they can value our programme and our concept."

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