So, while sitting in the car this afternoon, something hit me about the Lola entry… or rather the pulling of their entry, to Formula 1 in 2010.
Initially perceived by many of us to have been one of the strongest proposals for entry to the 2010 F1 World Championship, it was a genuine surprise to see that it, along with Prodrive, did not make the FIA’s initial list of entrants for next season.
Many pundits, myself included, believed that Max Mosley had kept these two very strong entries in his pocket to act as a bargaining chip in his negotiations with FOTA, having gained wind of the fact that two manufacturers were potentially thinking about quitting F1 at the end of 2009 anyway.
But today we hear that, rather than waiting another 48 hours to see how the politics plays out and whether they’d get an entry to F1 in 2010 afterall, Lola has pulled out of the running, making the shortest of statements in which they reaffirmed the great expense they had already gone to in preparing for next year.
That cost is not just financial, but personal. Lola has been on a recruitment drive over the last few months. Martin Birrane was at the A1GP finale in Brands Hatch and reportedly approached many of the paddock’s leading lights over his 2010 F1 entry – amongst them a number of very well known names with recent F1 experience who, I understand, have been hard at work in Huntingdon over recent weeks.
Why would he pull his team out of the running, when it looks increasingly likely that there won’t be a resolution on Friday and we may yet lose a few F1 teams from the mix for next year? Why, after all that work and money, just pull the plug when Lola stood a very good shot of gaining the F1 entry it wanted?
And then it hit me.
What if Lola’s not just been talking to Mr Mosley? What if Lola’s also been in touch with Mr di Montezemolo? And what if FOTA’s proposed championship was a greater lure than what might remain of F1 if Mosley wins the fight and the FOTA teams all pull out?
The FOTA teams will need to replace Williams and Force India if they wish to keep a 20 car field and only run two car teams.
Could those two teams be the two F1 entries we thought Max was using as political pawns?
If this whole thing goes tits up on Friday, and we really do see a FOTA championship in 2010, might we also see Lola and Prodrive alongside Ferrari, McLaren Mercedes, BMW, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Brawn?
It’s only my own personal musings. But it would make one hell of a strong championship.
And a much more interesting one for sponsors than what would be left of F1.