Last week saw ten teams testing at Jerez, and with Lotus launching the T127 on Friday evening, the 2010 grid is gradually taking shape. There remain, though, two exceptions - namely US F1 and Campos Meta1 - from whom the silence has been absolutely deafening of late, and about whom one hears statements from various unrelated, yet equally adamant, sources that neither outfit will make the opening round in Bahrain on 14 March - which is, forget not, less than four weeks away.
In that off-beat way peculiar to Formula 1 it seems, despite the massive divide between the two teams, their ultimate destinies are, according to impeccable sources, linked beyond the simple facts that both are cash-strapped, hard-pressed time-wise and have each signed just one driver. Read on...
Peter Windsor and Bernie Ecclestone © LAT
Taking US F1 first, those in the loop across the water suggest the car build is now so in arrears the team has not yet drawn its first engine from Cosworth. Yes, the team has a mock-up with which to run through basic fitting, but with the clock inexorably counting down, surely the time has come to crash-test, fire up and prove to the world that something approaching an F1 car exists within the 40,000 square-foot former Joe Gibbs Racing facility situated at 9900 Twin Lakes Parkway, Charlotte, NC.
Allegedly the team had a major sponsorship deal go pear-shaped in December, which led to delay after delay, for it is, after all, extremely challenging to build hi-tech cars when coffers are depleted. But when all is said and done, a crisis is a crisis, and, as Toyota has learned, companies are measured not by the size of the crisis but by their management thereof.
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South African-born Dieter trained as industrial engineer before holding down a variety of senior motor industry marketing and manufacturing positions. At the age of 40 he decided to follow his passion, and became the first and only South African journalist to cover Formula 1 regularly. Dieter joined AtlasF1 at the beginning of 2004 – a year prior to its merger with Autosport – and his regular column offers an intriguing analysis of F1’s politicking and commercial chicanery. Although now also proudly Belgian, he gives his domicile as "Wherever F1 duplicity lurks".@RacingLines More features by Dieter Rencken