Stefan GP brokers a deal with Toyota Racing – Click above for high-res image gallery
Some people just won't take no for an answer. That sense of unbridled optimism could stand to serve an F1 team well, only Stefan GP isn't an F1 team. Yet. But they hope to be, and they're not taking no for an answer.
Late last year after Toyota departed from the series, the Serbian racing team headed by Zoran Stefanovic (pictured above at Toyota's headquarters in Cologne, Germany) brokered a deal with the Japanese automaker to pick up Toyota's aborted 2010 program and run with it as an independent. Stefan applied for a slot on the grid, but their bid was rejected. Now they're banking on one of the teams that was accepted – Campos, USF1 or (less likely) Virgin or Lotus – failing to make it to the opening round in Bahrain next month.
Sounds ambitious? Definitely, but not without merit. Bernie Ecclestone is backing Stefan GP's effort, and they're slated to unveil their own car, powered by their own engine (both rebranded from Toyota's program), and send it to the test session in Portugal later this month. Toyota is providing support, and Stefan has recruited a team of engineers – including several former McLaren operatives implicated in the Spygate and Liegate scandals – and former Midland/Spyker/Force India director Colin Kolles.
Word has it the team has also already lined up two experienced drivers backed by Toyota: Kazuki Nakajima and – get this – Ralf Schumacher. The younger Schumi expressed interest in returning to F1 alongside his more successful brother, and may just get his chance if another team misses theirs.