Formtech's budget-capped entry bid to compete in the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship under the banner of Brabham Grand Prix could be set to run into problems before the FIA has even ruled on the successful applicants – with the Brabham family receiving legal advice after claiming not to have been consulted about the move.
The illustrious team was founded as Motor Racing Developments by triple F1 world champion Jack Brabham and designer Ron Tauranac back in 1960, with the former's 1966 crown remaining to this day the only one for a driver behind the wheel of a car bearing his own name.
Before folding due to financial difficulties midway through the 1992 campaign, from 402 starts in the top flight over three decades, Brabham achieved four drivers' titles, two constructors' laurels, 35 victories, 120 podium finishes, 40 pole positions, 43 fastest laps and 832 points. Amongst the esteemed names on its driving roll of honour were multiple world champions Brabham, Niki Lauda, Graham Hill and Nelson Piquet, as well as Damon Hill, until Lewis Hamilton the last British star to lift the ultimate trophy.
Last June, Formtech GmBH owner Franz Hilmer purchased the assets of the defunct Super Aguri operation – meaning the team has a ready infrastructure in-place in the form of the Leafield Technical Centre in Langley, as well as race cars, transporters and a workforce already accustomed to the pressures of F1 and who have been working in the interim period on composite design and manufacturing – and it was understood that the German machine tools entrepreneur similarly owned the rights to the Brabham name. Not so, the family insists.
'Sir Jack Brabham and the Brabham family have expressed their surprise at the recent news reporting that an entry has been submitted for the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship by Formtech with the intention of operating as Brabham Grand Prix Limited,' read a statement.
'The family would like to make it clear that they are in no way involved with Brabham Grand Prix Limited, and received no consultation regarding the company's plans to resurrect their historic name in Formula 1. The family is taking legal advice and will take necessary steps to protect their name, reputation and its goodwill.'