Prodrive has admitted that it may not be able to take up its place on the Formula 1 grid for the start of the 2008 season, with the team's entry into the sport set to be challenged at a hearing of the FIA International Court of Appeal.

The Banbury-based squad had planned to run a customer version of a McLaren chassis next season but has now run into difficulty, with Williams having written to the FIA to question the legality of Prodrive's plans.

As well as that challenge from a team regarded as the last true Independent outfit on the grid, Prodrive is also faced with the problem that the new Concorde Agreement - which would legalise customer cars for next season - has yet to be signed, with the current agreement not allowing a team to simply buy a car 'off the shelf' to take racing.

With questions now being raised over how Prodrive can push ahead with its plans to enter the sport next season, the team has admitted that the financial viability of a new F1 team can't be guaranteed until agreement is reached on the Concorde Agreement, which could mean that the addition of Formula 1's twelfth team doesn't happen for the 2008 season opener.

"It would be totally wrong for anyone to claim that 'negotiations between Prodrive and McLaren have collapsed'; quite the contrary," a statement issued by the prospective entrants read. "Both Prodrive and McLaren have, for sometime, agreed on the manner in which we would establish 'the twelfth team' in time for the 2008 F1 season. However, we have now passed our self-imposed deadline required to guarantee a competitive and professional start to next year.

"The delay in confirming our agreement with McLaren has been created by a challenge to our entry in next year's F1 World Championship as a non-constructor. While we remain confident that the short term issue of eligibility to race in 2008 will be resolved in our favour, it still leaves the question of longer term stability unanswered.

"It is Prodrive's opinion that the financial viability of a new team will not be possible until agreement is reached on a revised 'Concorde Agreement'. This is required to determine the long term rights of participation in the championship and eligibility to FOM income, on an equitable basis for all participants in Formula 1.

"It would therefore be totally irresponsible of us to employ all the staff required to establish the new team or commit to significant financial obligations while these uncertainties are still unresolved."

However, the statement added that the team led by former Honda team boss David Richards remains committed to the sport, with all options being considered for the 2008 season.

"Prodrive remains committed to participating in Formula 1," he said. "We are hopeful that the current dispute over our eligibility to race will be clarified at the ICA hearing later this month and that a 'Concorde Agreement' between the FIA, FOM and all 12 teams can be established in the near future.

"In the meantime, we will consider all our alternative options for next season."

 

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