Joan Villadelprat has expressed his fears that history could repeat itself and whichever team – or teams – is accepted for F1 entry in 2011 will have only a 'tiny' period of time in which to successfully build their car, potentially leading to the same kind of disaster that characterised the USF1 débâcle
Four names have emerged as the leading contenders to fill the 13th available grid slot in the top flight next season – GP2 Series and F3 Euroseries multiple champions ART Grand Prix, Italian outfit Durango, the mysterious American Cypher Group and Villadelprat's Epsilon Euskadi sportscar and single-seater operation.
There is still no sign as to which of the four will be successful, and until there is a decision, no major work can really be carried out to prepare for an F1 debut in the event of not being selected – something that Villadelprat admits is a significant concern.
“I'm optimistic, but also a bit worried because the FIA announcement won't come before the end of August,” the Spaniard told Italian magazine Autosprint
. “That means that, for the teams who get the nod, the time to start proper construction of the F1 car will be tiny. On top of that, it's inevitable that we now find ourselves in the situation where we begin making investments without knowing whether we'll actually be in next year's championship.”
However, Villadelprat remains convinced that Epsilon has the potential to stake its claim to a long-term future in F1 should it receive the governing body's approval – even if he is cynical about Virgin boss Richard Branson's boast that a team can survive and succeed on a budget of just €40 million.
“We have long been in talks with big and important international companies who are interested in investing in us,” revealed the former Tyrrell, Benetton and Prost team manager. “One thing is for sure – our programme isn't on a yearly basis. The budget I require must cover at least the first two seasons, 2011 and 2012. I repeat, that's a minimum. An F1 team can't be reasoning year-by-year.
“I feel that, in order to begin thinking of improving a team, you need no less than €100 million as a starting-point. Of course, you can race with €40 million too, but without making any important development and at the risk of always being just an extra – and having to start over from zero every year.”