Wurz: Superfund can succeed in F1

Superfund team principal Alex Wurz believes that Team Superfund may succeed in gaining an entry for the 2010 Formula 1 world championship because of its fundamental differences to other new outfits registered with the FIA by last Friday's imposed deadline

Wurz: Superfund can succeed in F1

The former Williams and McLaren driver reckons that because F1 is not Superfund's core business, but rather a well funded, soundly structured start-up team aimed at becoming a key marketing tool for the successful investment company - in the same way that Benetton and Red Bull approached the sport - it has a better chance of surviving than some of its rivals.

Speaking exclusively to AUTOSPORT Wurz explained: "The team is starting from a very solid platform. It is also different from the other entries we have seen talked about.

"They are all either returning constructors or existing teams from other formula - what I like to call petrolheads - who are possibly keen to go F1 racing because it's the pinnacle of motor racing.

"Superfund on the other hand is a multi-billion dollar business that over the past years has grown stronger and (founder) Christian Baha sees F1 as an extremely powerful promotional tool for a company that returned very good profits, for its investors in such difficult market situations like we currently see. We are taking this project extremely seriously."

Wurz admits, however, that the FIA's introduction of budget caps, the limit of which is currently being negotiated by the governing body and the Formula One Team's Association (FOTA), is what made the project viable.

"I was always interested in going into team management, even when I was racing in F1" said Wurz. "Christian and I have talked about doing this for many years. When we saw that through budget caps and natural market conditions, the cost of running a team was going to come down, we saw it as an opportunity and said, 'Let's go for it'.

"Christian (Baha) is a very tough but fair businessman who only gave the green light once he knew we could create an efficient business model. It is important to point out that he is backing the team personally rather than with Superfund's funds.

"With solid backing, the challenge for us is not so much financial, but rather technical. Until now, we have been working hard to achieve our current status in anticipation of a positive decision by the FIA."

The 34-year-old Austrian says that plans for the team's structure while detailed, remain fluid until it becomes clear whether new teams will be able to receive assistance from existing F1 constructors, and if so to what extent.

"A lot depends on what happens," he said. "We have two main business plans in place, and we have submitted these to the FIA along with our entry application. We will need to get up and running quickly so we have a plan for both scenarios; either receiving assistance from existing teams or setting up as an independent team.

"I must say, while personally I wouldn't want to end up as a pure customer team for years to come, we would prefer to work with an existing team to begin with. We have been in discussion with a number of teams and in fact have signed a provisional agreement with an existing team.

"However nothing can be fully decided until it becomes clear what are we allowed and not allowed to do for 2010 and years to follow.

"We will move forward anyway, and if necessary we can base ourselves in Superfund's existing facility in Austria."

Wurz added that working with an existing F1 team could have benefits for both parties in the current climate: "It might be worth renting space in an existing team's factory. With the cost-cutting regulations some of them are now running at 50-60% of their capacity, with the ban on testing and reductions in manufacturing and man power.

"This could offer a chance for us to learn quickly from an established team, while at the same time building our own headquarters in parallel. That would also offer the established some leverage for their unused resources.

"It's a win-win situation for the business," added Wurz, "but also for lots of staff which otherwise would have to be made redundant.

"In Christian's view, and I agree with him totally, the current change in F1 should make it a much better business model, because involved parties can look to operate profitably in the future, and profitable business is sustainable and will survive much longer than business models which are based on growth only".

Wurz confirmed that Superfund will use the standard Cosworth V8 engine, but said it was too early to consider driver line-ups.

"It's far too early to talk about drivers," he said. "I think the driver market will be strange until about October this year. If Fernando Alonso came to us with money that would be good!" he joked, "but seriously we have a budget for drivers."

As for his own driving career, Wurz said he will take it as it comes: "I retired from racing in F1 in 2007, but I will of course race the Peugeot this year in Le Mans, and fulfil with great pleasure my role with Brawn GP.

"In the future I don't know, let's take it step-by-step. I love the Peugeot and sports cars, but I am very excited on the prospects what 2010 can bring."

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