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Mike Stevens | Mar 22, 2010

Groups interested in filling the final slot on the F1 grid in 2011 have been invited to submit a "formal expression of interest" and a EUR1000 fee by 15 April.

In the wake of USF1's failure to race this season, the FIA opened a new selection process for a thirteenth team - as well as "one or more possible reserve entrants" - on Friday.

"The overall long-term interests of the championship will determine which candidates are selected," said the governing body.

The obvious candidates are USF1, who recently wanted its official entry to be carried over for 2011, and the Serbian outfit Stefan GP.

Rumours indicate that Stefan's Zoran Stefanovich attempted once again to merge with USF1 in order to race this season, but was told by FIA president Jean Todt that the American team's entry has definitely been revoked.

Amid the Bahrain race weekend, Cologne based Toyota Motorsport issued a media statement announcing "high-performance design, development and production services", indicating that its support of Stefan - including provision of equipment and the TF110 car - had lapsed.

Moreover, the FIA is considering sanctions against USF1 for pulling out of the world championship, meaning that other candidates - perhaps Prodrive and Epsilon Euskadi - are arguably more likely for the 2011 openings.

The FIA said "full applications will need to be submitted by the end of June, followed by due diligence leading to a decision in July 2010".

(GMM)

 

Dennis Suspects Vettel Ran Out Of Fuel In Bahrain

Ron Dennis has been quoted as questioning Red Bull's claim that Sebastian Vettel suffered a spark plug failure whilst leading the 2010 season opener in Bahrain last weekend.

Initially after the 22-year-old pole sitter gave up the lead of the race to the eventual three podium-getters, Red Bull diagnosed an exhaust problem.

A subsequent media statement clarified that it was actually a spark plug problem within the Renault engine that was the matter, but Spain's AS newspaper reported last week that Vettel simply slowed to prevent running out of fuel.

"The lap times dropped so rapidly that one can imagine the electronic control unit (ECU) switching to a conservative programme to save fuel," Dennis is quoted as saying in a report of the Cologne newspaper Express.

Briton Dennis is the chairman and a 15 per cent shareholder of McLaren Group, whose subsidiary McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) supplies the control ECU run mandatorily by all F1 teams.

The 62-year-old was speaking late last week at the launch of McLaren's new MP4-12C production supercar.

His theory would explain how Vettel's RB6, having perhaps conserved enough fuel for a final surge, was able to record fully competitive times in the final laps to prevent Nico Rosberg from passing.

During Dennis' long reign as McLaren team boss, Adrian Newey worked for a long time with the British team. And Newey, the main author of the RB6, is renowned for pushing the envelope with his F1 designs.

"The problem with the Red Bull could be design," Dennis continued.

"It could be the fuel tank is too small, or the fuel consumption is higher than they expected," he added.

Renault's engine boss Rob White told Express that the French marque has also been analysing the cause of Vettel's Bahrain problem.

"The investigation to identify the reason for Vettel's engine problem is ongoing," he said.

"A problem with the spark plug was found, but we have no reason to suspect a defect in the component itself."

(GMM)

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