In a surprising development, ART Grand Prix has announced that it has pulled out of the running for the available 13th spot in the F1 field in 2011 - blaming 'unfavourable economic conditions' for its unexpected volte-face.

Of all the potential new entrants, ART had looked to be by far the most worthy of and likely to be granted the grid slot, due both to its supreme pedigree and credentials in the junior formulae - with six GP2 Series crowns in the championship's short history, two more in the feeder category's Asia Series and an unbeaten record in the hotly-contested F3 Euroseries since 2008 - and also the fact that co-founder Nicolas Todt is the son of FIA President Jean Todt, who will ultimately make the final decision about who gets the nod.

'The team has been working for several months on this ambitious project that they had undertaken with determination and lucidity,' read an official statement from the French concern. 'ART Grand Prix had forged strong bonds with several technical and financial partners, but with unfavourable economic conditions they could not gather the necessary guarantees to ensure the stability of the project in the long-term.

"Therefore, the company will have to postpone its project until a later date, however it remains completely focussed and dedicated to the other single-seater championships in which it is successfully involved."

The withdrawal means the list of possible newcomers next season has now been narrowed down to Italian outfit Durango, the mysterious American Cypher Group, Serbia's unusual and ultimately unsuccessful 2010 hopeful Stefan GP and ex-Tyrrell, Benetton and Prost team manager Joan Villadelprat's Epsilon Euskadi sportscar and single-seater operation.