The ambitious Stefan GP operation has confirmed its intention to be on the Formula One grid next season, having submitted a bid to fill the 13th entry it thought would be its after the failure of USF1 in 2010.
The Serbian outfit's 2010 bid was cast aside by the FIA despite apparently having the credentials to join Lotus, Virgin and HRT in the expanded F1 field, and ultimately lost its technical alliance with the defunct Toyota F1 team - which was to have provided chassis and workshop space - as a result.
Despite the setback, however, team principal Zoran Stefanovic has confirmed that he intends to be on the grid next season, with Stefan GP's revamped website officially announcing its bid over the weekend – though judging by an airbrushed group photograph, disgraced former McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan no longer appears to be part of the plans.
"A great man by the name of Sir Winston Churchill once said something that I try to implant into the minds of the people in my team, something along the lines of: never, never, never, never give up," Stefanovic wrote, "In the last almost twelve months [sic
] you were all witnesses of the fact that I strongly stand behind my beliefs.
"I still believe that F1 would be a much more interesting competition with SGP, and my team and I feel like the battle is just starting. We want to be a part of F1 for both the long and short-term future, and I hope that we will finally have the success we deserve.
"This quality is shared by every person who has changed the world. Never, never, never, never give up! Thank you for supporting us, and I hope to see you at GP soon!"
As part of the bid, which sees Stefan GP join Italian outfit Durango as the only publically confirmed contenders, Stefanovic has revealed that his AMCO Corporation has signed an agreement with the mayor of Stara Pazova to build the Stefan Technology Park some 25km from Belgrade. The plans include an 3.5km F1-spec race circuit and a technical complex that will serve as Stefan GP's headquarters upon its anticipated completion in two years' time.
“I think this is an excellent development for our team, Stara Pazova city, region and country,” Stefanovic insisted, “This is proof that we want to put ourselves on the map as a serious hi-tech company, and that we are serious about competing in F1 for the long-term.
“Bearing in mind that we will soon be on a par with top teams, in terms of facilities and organisation, as Stefan Technology Park looking to be compared with them, we expect many positive improvements in the future.”
Finally, Stefanovic confirmed that he had spoken to no fewer than a dozen drivers with regard to the two cars he had hoped to have on the grid in 2010, including 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve and multiple world rally champion Sebastien Loeb. Former F1 pilots Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien, Takuma Sato and Narain Karthikeyan, as well as Williams refugee Kazuki Nakajima were also contenders, as were GP2 race-winners Pastor Maldonado and Karun Chandhok, and 2009 WSbR champion Bertrand Baguette. Adrian Valles and former DTM/F3 Euroseries runner Alex Margaritis made up the twelve candidates.