2011 HRT F111

It's not every day that the FIA opens up applications to accept a new Formula One team on the grid. In fact the last time it did was in 2010, when 15 interested parties applied. The FIA ended up picking three: Virgin, Lotus and HRT. Virgin ended up taken over by Marussia, that Lotus team became what is now known as Caterham, and the Hispania Racing Team (whose 2011 chassis is pictured above, largely without sponsors) ended up dropping out. But now the FIA is reportedly opening it up to find a replacement for HRT and expand the grid back to 12 teams.

Potential new teams are invited to register a formal expression of interest with the FIA by January 3. Considering that's just three weeks away, insiders are speculating that the FIA could already have some applicants in mind. The new team would have to commit to be on the grid by 2015 and remain there through 2020. The regulations state that there can be as many as 13 teams on the grid, so if the FIA – which has sole discretion over which applicant(s) will be accepted – finds more than one suitable new entry, it could feasibly give both a shot at the big leagues.