So Formula 1 is once again casting around for a new team to join the grid in 2016. The last time it opened up the entries process it only received three 'serious' proposals one from Haas F1, another from Forza Rossa and a final one from Stefan GP (Zoran Stefanovic it seems will not give up!).

But the re-opening of the process in May 2015 leaves hardly any time to put a serious effort together for 2016, and that is made even harder by the actual deadline for applications of 30th June. Prospective teams will not be informed whether they have actually secured the entry until the end of September, and with the cars expected to be on track in winter testing in February that will give just four months to design, construct and homologate a grand prix car from scratch.

So what is actually involved in doing that? Quite a lot, as you can imagine. Beyond the task of locating a facility to operate from, employing the required staff and acquiring all the kit needed to work in modern F1 (trucks, pit equipment etc) there is a major technical challenge to undertake.

So where to start... well, you need a modern Grand Prix car of course. The cars today are made up of three very basic chunks, the chassis, the power unit and the transmission and you need to secure them all in a short timescale.

Two of these chunks can simply be purchased from a manufacturer - Sauber for example simply buys the Ferrari power unit and transmission. This means that the rear end of its car ends up being very similar to that of the Ferrari SF15-T. The transmission casing dictates the inboard rear suspension layout and pick up points, the rear wing mounting points and the rear crash structure mounting points.

This is a double edged sword to this though as it does limit the freedom of the designer in terms of suspension geometry but it speeds up the process greatly too. Buying in the transmission along with the power unit also allows for much better integration of the whole back end of the car. On the Ferrari for example this sees the whole turbocharger mounted inside the bell housing at the front of the gearbox casing in an attempt to lower the centre of gravity.

But who could the new teams buy a power train from? Ferrari is already supplying two teams in 2016 (Sauber and Haas, the situation with Manor is not clear), Mercedes is supplying Force India with a full power train and Williams and Lotus with a power unit. While McLaren has said in the past that it is not keen to offer a customer transmission, but did not entirely rule it out.

So perhaps a new team could use a Renault power unit with a Red Bull transmission, since there is a spare supply left over by Caterham's demise. Honda openly admits that it is keen to supply multiple teams with PUs but they would have to source their own transmissions, either by persuading McLaren to offer a customer version or by commissioning one from Xtrac. The English firm already supplies the gearbox internals to a number of teams but not the casing which would have to be developed from scratch, and the gearbox layout cannot be defined without the power unit defined due to the turbo charger location.

The rules of Formula 1 dictate that a team must design its own chassis and this provides one of the toughest tasks for the prospective teams. In reality there probably is not enough time between the end of September and the start of the season to do this from scratch

Lotus Racing achieved it between 2009 and 2010 for the sole reason that Mike Gascoyne already had a basic design laid out, and had a team of composites experts on hand already. Designing a modern F1 chassis is a hugely complex task taking in all of the main engineering disciplines. Every current team is already well into the design of its 2016 cars and they have a basis to work from.

The reality is any new team wanting to race in 2016 will need to start from an existing design as there is not enough time to design one from scratch.

That said, there are a handful of existing designs out there. Sergio Rinland for example always keeps an up to date CAD model of an F1 car design on his laptop, while others are known to do the same too. Nicolas Perrin, who started the season off at Manor F1, has returned to his base in Yorkshire to work on his 2016 car design and make sure it is ready to be built should any new team want to adopt it.

The 2015 Manor MNR1 and Caterham CT06 designs would be useful as a basis of a project but could not be used directly due to a change of rules around the cockpit area. I hear rumours that there are impending disputes over the IP of both of these designs too.

Once the chassis design is completed, power unit and transmission secured then the team will need to actually get the car built, as it is highly unlikely that they will be able to do so themselves this will have to be outsourced. This is not that unusual, Force India for example outsources its chassis construction to EPM Composites in Derbyshire, while Caterham when it first arrived in F1 got German firm Capricorn to do the manufacturing.

Then the car has to get through all of the crash tests, not too tough if the car is not being pushed to the technical limit, but very tough if you want the car to be competitive.

Of course throughout all of this there is the not insignificant issue of aerodynamic development. Nick Wirth claims a CFD only approach simply is not good enough for modern Formula 1 as he proved with the 2010 & 2011 Virgin entries.

This means that the new teams will need to get an overall aerodynamic concept, then build a 50 or 60 per cent scale wind tunnel model of it. Wind tunnel models are deeply complex things and building them is not a quick process (I might detail the model process more another time) and they need to find a wind tunnel to run it in.

Back in 2009 the Lotus Racing (later to become Caterham) team found a short cut to this process and used parts of the 2009 Force India wind tunnel model that were found at the Aerolab wind tunnel (stuck there because Force India had not paid its bills), and those designs including the front wing end plates ended up on the Lotus T127. A high court case ensued and nobody came out of it well other than the lawyers.

And here rises the ugly prospect of customer cars. If a team was allowed to run a year old McLaren, Ferrari or Mercedes for example then a lot of this process gets streamlined or indeed removed entirely. Perhaps this is why customer cars are suddenly back on the agenda.

So who could seriously get a car ready for the 2016 season? The FIA expects to see clear details of
the technical ability and resources of the team; and the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the Championship at a competitive level and the team's experience and human resources.

This rules out a large number of hopefuls, including the ever persistent Zoran Stefanovic (Stefan GP) who will no doubt lodge an entry once again. The Perrin project also fails to meet the funding criteria but with proper backing that could quickly be developed into serious project. I feel that this process is being structured around Forza Rossa, which only missed out on a 2015 or 2016 entry because it failed to pay the entry fee.

Though a change of government in Romania may have killed off the programme, Colin Kolles (former Jordan/Midland/Spyker boss) I am told tried to acquire substantial parts of the Caterham team for use at Forza Rossa even after the entry was rejected.

However, if customer cars are allowed then the landscape changes drastically and one leading candidate moves into the spotlight. McLaren-Honda.

McLaren needs to find drives for its ever growing pool of talent, especially Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne, it would also allow young Nobuharu Matsushita-san a chance to get some test mileage in a modern F1 car.

A McLaren B team is what I think will happen, perhaps with Trevor Carlin operating it. Manor could become a Ferrari B team while Force India, already troubled financially morphs into a Mercedes B team.

It's certainly going to be an interesting few weeks to the end of June to see who will put up an entry!

Max Yamabiko

Max Yamabiko will bring you a closer look at the technical side of F1 and motorsport in 2015, from the latest developments and solutions employed to keep you ahead of the game

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