Austrian financial concern Superfund believes that it can benefit commercially from an entry into next year's Formula One world championship, following the announcement that it was to join other hopefuls among the potential additions to the field.
Operating officially under the Team Superfund banner, the 'managed futures fund provider' has filed an application to enter the 2010 championship alongside the ten existing teams and other newcomers Lola, Prodrive, Litespeed, USF1 and Campos Meta Racing, but will be fighting for just one of three 'expansion' slots on the grid when the entry is confirmed on 12 June.
As with the other outsiders, Superfund cites the proposed cost cap regulations as a major factor in the decision to 're-enter' F1, having previously been involved as a sponsor with the likes of Minardi, Jordan, Spyker and Midland, and has already made key appointments in the push to be ready for the start of next season.
"The continued drive to establish a budget cap in F1 has once again made the sport a profitable and sustainable business opportunity,” company founder Christian Baha admitted, "Managed futures and F1 are both fast-paced, cutting-edge industries where consistent performance and innovative technology produce winning results. Investing in Formula One is a natural fit for Superfund, both as a commercial venture and as a high-profile brand awareness campaign, and, given the current situation and continued worldwide audience figures of F1, we felt the conditions are now right to formally request the FIA for an entry.”
Baha went on to reveal that he was looking to extend the company's commitment to motorsport by 'partnering with a top-level current F1 team, key suppliers and personnel' with the long-term view of becoming a fully independent team within three years. Superfund has already signed a provisional agreement with an existing F1 team to use staff, facilities and infrastructure and, like several of its potential rivals for the three available spots, has secured a provisional deal with independent engine supplier Cosworth.
Former driver Alex Wurz has been named to head up the organisation as team principal, essentially confirming the end of his career on the track after spells with Benetton, McLaren, Williams and Honda.
“The transition from track to testing to team principal is a natural progression for me, and I'm looking forward to bringing the knowledge, experience and relationships I've fostered throughout my driving career to Team Superfund,” the 69-race veteran admitted.
“Christian and I have talked about starting a new race venture for many years and, when we saw that the cost of running a team was going to come down as a result of budget caps and natural market conditions, we decided to seize the opportunity.
"With the solid backing of Christian, 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. Team Superfund has established a clear timeframe to get the technical programme up to speed in order to be fully prepared for the start of the 2010 World Championship."
Claiming that Superfund may be better-placed to proceed with its entry given that motorsport was not its main business focus, Wurz revealed that the team had formulated two separate business plans - based on being able to receive help from an existing team or having to go it completely alone - and had submitted those, along with its entry, to the FIA. As a result, the structure of the operation would remain fluid pending the governing body's decision on who should be included on next year's grid.
Hand-in-hand with its sponsorship of some of F1's smaller teams, Superfund came close to launching its own championship for 2005, citing the three objectives of providing powerful cars for the drivers, reasonable budgets for the teams and exciting racing and good entertainment for the fans. A bespoke car, the John Travis-designed SF01, was produced for testing - ahead of a proposed run of 20 for the racing that was to have followed - but problems in development, including a series of accidents, saw the project slip quietly from the radar.