Following on from Crash.net's exclusive that revealed British F3 and World Series by Renault outfit Ultimate Motorsport is looking to break onto the Formula 1 grid as early as next year [see separate story - click here], team founder and owner Barry Walsh has admitted the squad is in talks with Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Red Bull energy drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz has already made clear his desire to offload Red Bull Racing's sister team - currently jointly run by former nine-time grand prix winner and Mateschitz's co-owner Gerhard Berger, and countryman Franz Tost - before the new regulations outlaw 'customer' cars from competing in the top flight, meaning all teams must henceforth both design and build their own cars.

The current Ferrari-powered STR3 is to all intents and purposes the same machine as RBR's RB4, with both having been conceived by Red Bull Technology under the guidance of former McLaren technical director Adrian Newey.

Now another piece of the jigsaw has potentially fallen into place, with Walsh acknowledging that Ultimate has entered into negotiations with STR to buy into the Faenza-based minnows by purchasing Mateschitz's 50 per cent stake, with the reported backing of Angolan national oil company Sonangol. Angolan Ricardo Teixeira is currently Ultimate's second driver in British F3, having recently taken over from World Series-promoted Argentine Esteban Guerrieri.

"We are in negotiations," Walsh told the Irish Independent, "so I can't reveal too much about it until everything is final. We always set out with Formula 1 as the target.

"I would only have got involved in the project in the first place if I was confident we could take it all the way to Formula 1 - that is the aim.

"If our plans go the right way, I'd like to think we could be on the grid for 2009. The aim is to have the whole structure, with the academy from karting through Formula 3 and the World Series and Formula 1 at the top."

Though Berger denied the reports, Ultimate is unquestionably a team on the up. Having only been formed late in 2006 and having made its racing debut last year, the Northants-based concern branched out into the Renault WS this season and recently celebrated not only its maiden British F3 pole position courtesy of Michael Devaney at Snetterton, but also a breakthrough double victory in the two races at the Norfolk circuit, vaulting the Irishman up to seventh position in the title chase - and with it, arguably, championship contention.

Following that remarkable success - also marking the first win for a Mygale chassis in the series - Walsh proclaimed that his young charge from Dublin was 'ready for Formula 1', praising the 23-year-old's speed and technical understanding and adding that his chance could come sooner rather than later. Devaney's father Bernard is a family friend, and was a Formula Ford rival of Walsh's brother Jim back in the 1970s.

With teams in the BRDC Stars of Tomorrow karting championship - the same series that first set a certain Lewis Hamilton on the fast track to future F1 glory - British F3 and the Renault WS, former racing driver turned property developer Walsh clearly has ambitious plans for Ultimate.

The Ulsterman has undeniably brought his team on a long way in a very short space of time, with plans to also move into GP2 next season and eventually make it into one of the most comprehensive motorsport academies in the world, taking drivers all the way from the grass roots of racing right to the very top. In a further F1 link, racing director Jonny Ostrowski was previously a race mechanic for McLaren during the Mika Hakkinen - David Coulthard era at Woking.

 

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