Ten days from the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir, the FIA has published the final entry list for the F1 2010 World Championship campaign – with official confirmation that USF1 will not be competing, and perhaps more surprisingly, no room at the inn either for the beleaguered American outfit's only potential replacement Stefan GP.
A short missive from the governing body revealed that 'the USF1 Team have indicated that they will not be in a position to participate in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship', corroborating previous reports that the financially-stricken, Ken Anderson-led operation has asked for special dispensation to defer its entry until 2011, though there was no mention as to whether or not this request will be granted. What followed, however, was arguably a little more unexpected.
'Having considered the various options, the FIA confirms that it is not possible for a replacement team to be entered for the championship at this late stage,' the statement continued, thereby dashing Serbian hopeful Stefan GP's intentions of joining the fray at the eleventh hour, with a brace of ready-designed Toyota TF110 chassis' and the Japanese manufacturer's engines, and 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve and ex-Williams ace Kazuki Nakajima on the driving strength.
With time now running out, the announcement would appear to be the final nail in the coffin for the Zoran Stefanovic-led concern's plucky if ultimately ill-fated bid to secure a place on the grand prix grid, despite the sport's influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone having only yesterday (Wednesday) revealed that the FIA was conducting a 'business review' into the Belgrade-based squad's viability to compete in 2010...and that 'if positive, Stefan GP might get off the line in Bahrain'. With Friday the final deadline for the freight's departure to the desert kingdom, that opportunity, it appears, has now been and definitively gone.
'In the coming days, the FIA will announce details of a new selection process to identify candidates to fill any vacancies existing at the start of the 2011 season,' the governing body's statement concluded, inferring that if they still wish to race, USF1 and Stefan – as well as the likes of last summer's unsuccessful applicants such as Prodrive and Lola – will need to go through the entire process again for next year.
Elsewhere on the entry list, Campos Meta 1 has been re-listed as HRT (Hispania Racing Team), admittedly a somewhat unfortunate and possibly ill thought-out set of initials, with Bruno Senna still noted as the Spanish entry's only driver thus far, though the Brazilian's former GP2 Series team-mate Karun Chandhok is expected to be confirmed alongside him during an official team presentation in Murcia today. HRT is the only team yet to test its car, though reports suggest it may be able to do so at Imola prior to flying all of the equipment out to Sakhir.
BMW-Sauber, meanwhile, has inherited USF1's car numbers of 22 and 23 for grand prix returnee Pedro de la Rosa and highly-rated young Japanese ace Kamui Kobayashi respectively.
It has also been noted that the twelve teams on the list – though predominantly based in the UK – are registered under licences from nine different countries, from the UK to Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Malaysia and India, making F1, former ITV-F1 commentator James Allen muses on his internet blog, a veritable World Cup of Motorsport like much as the now-defunct nation vs. nation series A1GP had branded itself as. As to driver nationalities, McLaren-Mercedes has two Brits on-board, Mercedes Grand Prix boasts an all-homegrown German line-up, Ferrari unusually has an all-Latin duo filling its two cockpits and Renault's pairing is entirely Eastern European.
The full, final F1 2010 entry list is as follows:
1 Jenson Button Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes McLaren-Mercedes
2 Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes McLaren-Mercedes
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP Petronas Mercedes-Benz
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas Mercedes-Benz
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing Renault
6 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing Renault
7 Felipe Massa Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Ferrari
8 Fernando Alonso Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Ferrari
9 Rubens Barrichello AT&T Williams Williams-Cosworth
10 Nico Hülkenberg AT&T Williams Williams-Cosworth
11 Robert Kubica Renault F1 Team Renault
12 Vitaly Petrov Renault F1 Team Renault
14 Adrian Sutil Force India F1 Team Force India Mercedes
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India F1 Team Force India Mercedes
16 Sébastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso STR-Ferrari
17 Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso STR-Ferrari
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus Racing Lotus Cosworth
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Racing Lotus Cosworth
20 TBA HRT F1 Team HRT Cosworth
21 Bruno Senna HRT F1 Team HRT Cosworth
22 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber F1 Team BMW Sauber-Ferrari
23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber F1 Team BMW Sauber-Ferrari
24 Timo Glock Virgin Racing Virgin Cosworth
25 Lucas Di Grassi Virgin Racing Virgin Cosworth