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Lola re-affirms F1 entry plans

While existing Formula One teams appear desperate to scramble over one another in search of the exit door should the FIA impose its budget cap proposal on the category, potential replacement Lola has confirmed that it remains interested in a return despite the spending ceiling being raised.

Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and Toyota have all threatened to quit the top flight should Max Mosley succeed in pushing through his cost-capping plan, despite the upper limit being extended to £40m from £30m in recent weeks. While many see the threats as sabre-rattling, the likes of Lola have been forced to re-assess the viability of its entry now that it will have to find more money to be competitive.

The Huntingdon-based marque was the first to announce that it would look seriously at an F1 entry under the budget cap rules, revealing on 22 April that it already had a project underway that would see it return to the grid for the first time since nearly being crippled by an ill-fated, one-race, assault twelve years ago. That announcement, however, came while the F1 world was staring at a £30m ceiling, and the FIA's initial relaxing of its stance to permit teams to work with an extra £10m - and no longer include the cost of engines - caused Lola to rethink its plans.

Now, after a period of reflection, the historic marque - which supplied cars to various teams through four decades from its debut in 1962 - has confirmed that it will press on with its plans.

"Following completion of its evaluation of the technical regulations for cost-capped Formula One teams announced by the FIA World Motorsport Council on 29 April 2009, the Lola Group is pleased to announce that it will be submitting an entry for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship," an official statement, released overnight, attested.

"The original cap of £30 million, including engines formed the basis of Lola's initial interest. The decision by the WMSC to revise the figure to £40 million plus engines, marketing, hospitality and driver fees led to a re-examination of the opportunity by Lola, culminating in today's confirmation that it will proceed with its Formula One project."

Lola was followed by Aston Martin/Prodrive and GP2 frontrunner iSport International in confirming interest in F1's 'brave new world', with others rumoured as potential rivals for what started out as three vacancies on the entry. The reported threats from some of the existing teams may yet open up further opportunities for new blood, but Lola looks forward to pitting itself against the likes of Ferrari from next season.

"The Lola Group believes that the WMSC decisions relating to cost-capping and the provision of revised technical regulations to facilitate the entry of new teams into Formula One should be embraced," the Lola statement continued, "This is not only prudent considering the backdrop of global economics, but also taking into account the need for new teams to be able to compete credibly against long-established entrants.

"It is imperative that performance breaks be afforded to new cost-capped entrants who will have a limited period in which to form teams, design and manufacture their cars. With these breaks, Lola looks forward to competing with the existing teams who enjoy decades of experience. The question of speed differentials, safety and the spectacle of Formula One must also be considered.

"The Lola Group is forging ahead with its Formula One project with the objective of securing an entry into the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, and in the expectation that the decisions of the WMSC will be respected in full."

The marque has said that it will be making no further comment on the project following the release of its statement.

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