A team run by ex-grand prix driver Adrian Campos and in partnership with Meta Image has become the first to submit a bid for graduation to the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship, barely minutes after the week-long entry period opened – and as many as nine other hopefuls are expected to follow suit.
With a 29 May deadline for entries to be made, both existing teams and new ones have just seven days now to decide whether or not they wish to be a part of the top flight next year, and it took Campos just five minutes to become the first to show its cards.
Contrary to speculation earlier in the week, however, the squad in question is not current GP2 Series pace-setters and reigning champions Barwa Addax – formerly owned by Campos and until last year known as Campos Grand Prix – but indeed the erstwhile Minardi ace's Spanish Formula 3 Championship outfit Campos Racing, which would be known in F1 as Campos Meta 1.
No details have yet been revealed about commercial partners, but 48-year-old Campos did make a point of denying rumours in the Spanish media that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim – erroneously linked with a Honda buy-out earlier this year – and NBA basketball player Pau Gasol are involved in the investment side of the project.
FIA President Max Mosley's controversial budget cap may have angered the current competitors – particularly the manufacturer-backed teams – but it has certainly attracted a wealth of interest from lower down the motorsport ladder, with entries similarly expected in the following days from the likes of a David Richards-run Prodrive/Aston Martin/UAE-branded bid, North Carolina-based USF1, iconic British marque Lola, former GP2 champions iSport International, British F3 tail-enders Litepseed, Wirth Research, Epsilon Euskadi, RML and Formtech.
There are on the surface three new slots available on the starting grid in F1's new, 'low-cost' era, but with the present incumbents still at loggerheads with the governing body over the cap and still no compromise in sight, it seems likely that as many as seven of the existing competitors – Ferrari, Toyota, Renault and Red Bull chief amongst them – will not enter by the stipulated deadline, potentially creating room for more newcomers.
Further crisis talks are due to be held between the FIA and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) in Monaco today, with Ferrari threatening to pursue their right of veto through the civil courts should no acceptable resolution be forthcoming.