Despite having seen its bid for F1 2011 entry rejected by the FIA earlier this month, Villeneuve Racing has revealed that it remains determined to join the grand prix grid next season – and has now turned its attentions, like fellow declined hopeful Epsilon Euskadi [see separate story – click here
], to the purchase of an existing team.
In company with Epsilon and unsuccessful 2010 applicant Stefan GP, Villeneuve Racing – a joint project between 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who was to be one of the drivers, and former GP2 Series outfit Durango Corse – was deemed not to meet the World Motor Sport Council's requirements to become the sport's 13th competitor next year.
Villeneuve has since reflected that 'of course it's disappointing, but we just shift the focus now and turn our attention to alternatives' – and a statement published on the team's website has revealed that there is absolutely no question of throwing in the towel.
'The Villeneuve Racing entity did not get approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council to enter the 2011 Formula One World Championship,' it reads. 'F1's governing body turned down all the entries from teams hoping to fill the vacant 13th slot on the grid for next season. Villeneuve Racing will now look at options open to them for the purchase of an existing F1 team, with which to enter the championship.'
Durango spokesman Giuseppe Dorigo has confirmed that the next step is to resort to 'Plan B' of taking over a current outfit in the top flight, with struggling F1 2010 newcomers Hispania (HRT) and Virgin reckoned to be the most likely candidates. The financially-ailing HRT has similarly been linked to a merger with fellow Spanish operation Epsilon.
“The only way to enter F1 in 2011 is to buy an existing team,” he told French-language Radio Canada Sports
, “and as planned we will do it together with Jacques Villeneuve. We believe it's worth it. Our only goal now is to be on the starting grid next year.”
One of the key reasons behind Villeneuve Racing's rejection by the FIA is understood to have been the lack of proof of long-term financial stability, with €30 million said to have been raised by Durango, and former BAR director and Villeneuve's long-time friend Rick Gorne having played a key role in securing the remainder of the funding for the team's debut season – but no guarantee of how much would be left in the coffers for year two and beyond.