Prodrive boss, and potential Formula One team owner, David Richards has confirmed claims that the FIA stipulated use of Cosworth power as a requirement for a place on the expanded 2010 entry list.
Days after a lesser-heralded candidate for one of the three 'expansion slots', Stefan Grand Prix, launched legal action against the governing body [see story HERE
], citing anti-competition practices, an interview with Richards has appeared, confirming that use of the Cosworth engine would find favour in the selection process.
The FIA had previously granted the iconic engine builder the tender for a 'low cost' powerplant in an effort to bring down the price of competing in the top flight, and subsequently awarded the three vacant spots on the grid to the US F1, Campos and Manor bids - all of which were revealed with Cosworth as engine partner.
Prodrive had been hotly tipped to fill one of the expansion spots, but was understood to have an agreement with McLaren and Mercedes, which would have led to the German manufacturer providing its engines. For that reason, the former Benetton and BAR team principal admits that Prodrive is unlikely to make the jump to F1 in its own right, even if BMW's announced departure opens up another vacancy.
"Exactly that was said to me," Richards told motorsport-magazin.com
, "I must have a Cosworth engine if I wanted to be in the F1 world championship. However, I had an agreement with McLaren and thought that we would not be as competitive with a Cosworth engine, so I was not ready to change partner. If the regulations had meant, from the beginning, that we were only allowed in if we used such an engine, then I would have known the situation, but I do not believe that it is appropriate for those in charge of the sport to say such a thing."
Despite admitting that he remains interested in the outcome of the BMW situation, which remains in abeyance while any possible rescue plan akin to Brawn GP's is formulated, Richards acknowledges that it is unlikely that Prodrive will be on the F1 grid next season.
"I am waiting to see what happens in F1, but I won't spend my entire life waiting," he insisted, "I continue to put my plans with Aston Martin and for the WRC into action, and will wait to see what happens with the F1 rules.
"I have not seen the newest Concorde Agreement, and therefore I do not know whether it will permit the use of certain components by several teams. That is a critical factor for me. I do not believe that one can make a new car competitive in such a short time, and we have a partnership agreement with McLaren, which has been in place for a long time. Nothing has changed with regard to that."
Richards ruled out the possibility of making a bid for the BMW Sauber operation, but admitted that he was keen to see if the changes pending at the head of the FIA made it easier for Prodrive to enter in its own right in future.