Reports of Toyota F1's demise may prove to have been exaggerated as the latest rumors from the racing world suggest that the Japanese automaker is in discussions with a Serbian outfit about taking over the Cologne-based racing team.
Stefan Grand Prix is backed by Serbian engineering firm AMCO and headed by one Zoran Stefanovic, who, like N.Technology, filed an official complaint over the FIA's selection process for new teams. His suit was rejected, but Stefanovic remained determined. The departure of Toyota from the scene and the availability of its assets – including its 2010 car design and the all-important entry slot for next year's championship – may prove to be his way in. The deal could involve Toyota sticking around to supply engines for the next few years, and Kamui Kobayashi could be part of the package, operating from the current facility in Cologne, Germany, until the move to Serbia could be completed.
For its part, Toyota is likely trying to find a way to get around its commitments under the Concorde Agreement to remain in the series, the failure of which to honor could cost Toyota hundreds of millions in fines. Meanwhile if Stefan Grand Prix manages to pull it off, they'll have successfully circumnavigated the allegedly flawed selection process and secured their spot on the grid. Stefanovic denies the prospect of his outfit simply stepping in to Toyota's place, but confirmed that negotiations are under way.
Meanwhile Sauber – which just reacquired itself from BMW in the wake of the failed Qadbak deal – was hoping Toyota would default on its agreement, thereby giving them the green light. If the Stefan deal goes through, Sauber could be locked out, unless the powers-that-be opt to let them in as an unprecedented 14th entry.
[Source: F1-Live | Image: Clive Mason/Getty]