Mike Stevens | Apr 23, 2009
Aussie steerer Ian Dyk driving his Lola-built A1GP car at Brands Hatch. Photo by Cabrini Green.

A decade after its first disastrous attempted entry, British racing company Lola has announced it will commence a preliminary investigation into the prospect of returning to the Formula One scene next year.

Lola’s announcement was prompted by the World Motor Sport Council’s decision to introduce a £30 million budget cap for Formula One, although this figure is expected to rise nearly 50 per cent as part of a compromise deal.

The British outfit, though, has already committed a number of its top engineers to the project, believing it is well placed to design a vehicle ahead of next year.

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Reports suggest Lola has approached Cosworth as an engine supplier, following the lead of fellow F1 hopefuls US Grand Prix Engineering.

However, Lola admits it is still to complete “a full technical, operational and financial evaluation”, while a final decision will be subject to the publication of confirmed technical and cost-capping regulations.

Martin Birrane, Executive Chairman of Lola Group, believes the manufacturer is more than equipped to tackle the task of forming an F1 team, having designed cars in Formula 3 and A1GP in Europe.

“Providing world-class engineering excellence, offering high quality solutions governed by a tightly controlled financial regime has been part of Lola's DNA over the last decade,” he said.

“The current necessity for Formula One to adopt a responsible approach in times of economic uncertainty has created the ideal conditions for us to consider developing a car for the World Championship.”

Birrane saved Lola from the brink of financial collapse in 1997 following its last farcical attempt to field a team in motorsport’s premier category.

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The Mastercard Lola-Ford T97/30, which failed even to quality at the 1997 Australia F1 Grand Prix.

Lola F1 folded after just one race into the season, the company exhausting its budget after its questionable sponsorship agreement with Mastercard yielded virtually no funding.

Its entry, the T97/30 was one of the worst cars to ever enter a Formula One event, failing to qualify for the 1997 Australian Grand Prix and boasting negligible aerodynamic and mechanical grip.

Drivers Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset were only able to wrestle the machine within 11 seconds of pole position, failing to meet the 107% qualifying standard which was in place at the time.

Lola adapted the car from its IndyCar entry, making only subtle weight and design adjustments to meet F1 regulations, while the car saw little testing time and was rumoured to have been completed the night before its launch.

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