Having initially been as many as ten – 15 even, according to some sources – potential bidders for the vacant 13th slot on the F1 2011 starting grid, it now appears that the selection process has been whittled down by the FIA to just three...so who do you think deserves to get the nod?
ART Grand Prix's unexpected withdrawal opened the scenario right up, with the team that had been widely deemed to be the favourite suddenly no longer part of the running. That has left, ostensibly, the mysterious American Cypher Group, Joan Villadelprat's Epsilon Euskadi single-seater and sportscar outfit and the joint Villeneuve Racing/Durango project as the leading contenders – though if you want one final leftfield option, why not throw in unsuccessful yet seemingly indefatigable 2010 applicant Stefan GP for good measure.
On the face of it, all have their flaws. The American Cypher Group brings back unsettling memories of the whole sorry USF1 saga – and it is doubtful that speculation linking 'Singapore-gate' protagonist Nelsinho Piquet to the squad will do it many favours [see separate story – click here
Epsilon Euskadi scarcely has the most glittering of records even in the junior formulae, Villadelprat's reputation from his days at Ferrari, Tyrrell, Benetton and Prost notwithstanding.
Villeneuve Racing is based around a driver who has not won a grand prix in over a decade, is joining forces with a team that had to pull out of GP2 last season due to financial difficulties and has been linked with both Flavio Briatore and the son of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi – though the latter rumour has been fervently denied.
And Stefan GP is, well, nothing if not persistent, if arguably hopelessly so.
All-in-all, then, a fairly motley bunch – but what do you think? Do any of them deserve to join the top flight in 2011, and if so who deserves it the most? Or should the governing body simply batten down the hatches and declare no room at the inn?
Who should get the 13th spot on next year's grid?
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