Prodrive chairman David Richards has admitted that he is 'disappointed' not to have been included on the provisional 2010 Formula 1 World Championship entry list – but conscious of the fact that with five of the accepted entries still 'conditional' and further upsets unable to be discounted, he nonetheless retains a glimmer of hope of getting his team onto the starting grid next year.
Prodrive/Aston Martin was widely believed to be one of the favourites – if not indeed the favourite –for inclusion on the list out of the 15 mooted possible newcomers, with Richards boasting prior experience in the top flight as team principal of Benetton in 1998 and BAR-Honda from 2002 to 2004, leading the latter to its most successful season ever in the latter campaign.
What's more, Prodrive came close to joining the fray last year, before its bid was torpedoed at the eleventh hour by the contentious customer car row. With state-of-the-art facilities in both Banbury and Gaydon and Middle Eastern financial backing, Richards was seen to be arguably the most serious of the hopefuls clamouring for one of the three available additional places – but that, it would appear, was not ultimately enough to convince FIA President Max Mosley to give the Welshman the nod.
“We are naturally disappointed by the FIA's decision not to include Prodrive on the preliminary entry list for 2010,” confessed the former World Rally Championship-winning co-driver, “as we believe we have the resources and set-up to be competitive in Formula 1 and would make a positive contribution to the sport.
“We will wait to see how things develop in the next week, up to the 19 June deadline set by the FIA, and we remain prepared and ready to implement our plans should the circumstances allow. As we have seen before, there are quite often many twists and turns in Formula 1.
“However, this weekend our attention is one hundred per cent focused on our Aston Martin team at Le Mans. For the first time we are challenging for outright victory with a three-car line-up, following two consecutive GT1 class wins, on the 50th anniversary of Aston Martin's historic 1959 win at the Circuit de La Sarthe.”
Iconic British marque Lola was equally hotly-tipped to be named as one of the successful new entries, and the legendary Lotus name was also vying for a return to F1 with Litespeed GP, but both were similarly overlooked – and similarly confident that nothing is over yet.
'The Lola Group acknowledges receipt of the communication from the FIA announcing the preliminary entry list for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship,' read an official statement from the former. 'The Lola F1 Team is not currently listed as an entrant, but will continue to remain in discussion with the FIA as a potential new entry until the extended deadline of June 19, 2009.'
'The FIA have today announced their preliminary list of teams for the 2010 F1 Championship,' added the latter. 'Team Lotus is disappointed not to be on that provisional list. However, we understand that in the event that any of the teams listed do not agree the terms imposed by the FIA, we are short-listed to fill any spots which become available.
'Therefore we remain in close contact with the FIA, and will work with them to ensure that Team Lotus is selected in the event that any spaces become available in the next seven days. Our team remains committed to motor racing and does not intend to let this initial disappointment deter our Formula 1 ambitions.'