Cooper Tires British F3 International Series national class contenders Litespeed F3 have become the latest team to express an interest in signing up to the new, 'low-cost' budget-capped Formula 1 – with the help of esteemed out-of-work designer Mike Gascoyne and his company MGI Ltd.
Based in Norfolk, Litespeed F3 was formed in early 2008, and in its maiden campaign in British F3 with alternately 2007 Formula Ford UK Champion Callum MacLeod and Jonathan Legris, achieved a podium courtesy of the latter at Brands Hatch in July. Running with Victor Correa in its second year in the championship in 2009, a brace of third place finishes last time out at Silverstone have kept the Brazilian in the hunt for national class honours sitting in fourth place in the title chase.
Litespeed was founded by former Lotus duo Nino Judge – who worked in aerodynamics and R&D structure testing for Team Lotus F1 from 1989 to 1991 – and Steve Kenchington, one of the originators of 'Lotus Active' and responsible for control systems at Lotus Engineering for 21 years.
Between them the pair have more than 25 years' experience in the field, and allied to Gascoyne's reputation within the paddock – following successful stints at McLaren, Sauber, Tyrrell, Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Force India, with the man dubbed 'the bulldog' at one stage boasting the highest engineering salary in the top flight – have made their bid for one of the three available extra slots on the 2010 F1 starting grid under the name Litespeed GP.
“We don't yet know whether the cap rules will be changed,” remarked team principal Judge, referring to the Formula One Teams' Association's staunch opposition to the new regulations, “and obviously we don't know if our application will be accepted. The cap may be dropped altogether. The point is that there is not much time for the project to get onto the 2010 grid, and we have to take some risks in order to maximise time for preparation.
“Potentially, there will never be a better time to enter the F1 arena. The FIA has so far not only been bold in introducing the budget cap, but has evidently thought out the long-term prospects of this globally captivating sport. There is space and a need in the arena for independent teams, and the technical leeway given to the budget-capped teams allows for a competitive performance within the financial parameters.
“We are delighted that MGI is on-board with us – their expertise, experience and understanding of potential pitfalls are invaluable to any team to which they put their name and professionalism. MGI will be working to Litespeed's brief and will act as technical consultants to the team.
“Litespeed's commitment to technical development within motorsport is already well-documented through our undertakings in British F3, and the fact that we have taken the initiative a month ahead of the announcement of the successful team applicants on 12 June demonstrates our steadfast attitude towards F1. By the middle of June we will have a fully-schemed F1 chassis.
“In times of crisis we hope that fortune will favour the brave. Despite the potential backlash – which has become a reality – the FIA was not afraid to introduce pioneering measures to ensure the future of F1. We are confident that the FIA and FOTA will find a swift compromise which is good for F1 and that allows new teams, like ours, to enter. As an innovative, cost-efficient and engineering-based organisation, the budget cap initiative fits with the very ethos of Litespeed GP, which is why now is the right time for us to make this announcement.”