The influx of new teams due to race in Formula One during the 2010 season means plenty of opportunities for British engineering – and maybe even racing – talent.
Rumours about the driver line-up at the team being run by Sheffield-based Manor Motorsport and Bicester’s Wirth Research, likely to be called Virgin F1, include former Honda and Super Aguri pilot turned BBC radio commentator Anthony Davidson and also Northern Ireland’s Adam Carroll, who recently won the 2008/09 A1GP championship for Team Ireland.
British F3 International competitor Max Chilton, 18, currently driving for Carlin Motorsport, is also thought to be under consideration with his father, businessman Grahame Chilton, reportedly interested in investing in the team.
Meanwhile Proton-owned Lotus, formerly the team of Colin Chapman, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Stirling Moss and Nigel Mansell, is set to return to the grid as a Malaysian-backed squad, possibly causing that country to quit A1GP’s World Cup of Motorsport as a consequence.
The team is initially planned to be based in Norfolk, with a move to Sepang on the cards in the longer term. Air Asia entrepreneur Tony Fernandes is temporarily the team principal, although he has said he does not expect to stay in the role much past next year’s Australian Grand Prix.
He recently told The Independent how, when at school in England, he camped out at Brands Hatch and supported Williams. His father, on the other hand, was a fan of Jim Clark, who was killed while driving a Lotus. Fernandes says that running a F1 team is the realisation of a childhood dream.
But Lotus will also be working with the British aerodynamicist and vastly-experienced F1 veteran Mike Gascoyne who will serve as its technical director.
Norfolk-born Gascoyne was initially working on a bid to revive the Lotus name through an association with the local Litespeed F3 team. When that failed to win a grid slot he continued working on the plans, winning backing from the Malaysian government.
Fernandes has said that he is interested in recruiting a veteran driver to partner a rookie Malaysian national – possibly Fairuz Fauzy, who last year broke Ayrton Senna’s Donington lap record and has plenty of experience in junior formulas up to GP2 Asia. His choice of partner for the 26-year-old could prove very interesting.