Things seem to be progressing along quite nicely for Stefan GP (or as we like to call them…Step-In GP). According to AUTOSPORT, the team fired up its engine on the Stefan 01 today marking an historic moment for owner Serbian Zoran Stefanovic.
According to Stefanovic the team is working diligently on driver contract with the service of ex-Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima already in place and a possible deal with former driver and world champion Jacques Villeneuve (JV). They are alo looking for a third driver as well. Nakajima is understandable as a selection as he was closely tied to Toyota and Stefanovic purchased the inventory and chassis from the team when they decided to leave the sport last year. He also has a technical assistance agreement with the team as well.
The driving services of JV don’t make a lot of sense to me if I am honest. With so many current F1 drivers and test driver with more recent experience, it seems and odd choice. If you believe that commercial rights boss Bernie Ecclestone is behind the teams odd existence (it has no secured spot on the 2010 grid) then you can also assume that Ecclestone may have something to do with the appointment of JV as a driver.
With 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher coming back and the excitement that has caused the sport, Ecclestone would probably like to see other former champs come back as well. There is no love lost between JV and Schumacher and this is always good for controversy. The only thing better would be to get Mika Hakkinen back.
The team seems intent in continuing their preparations for the 2010 season although they have no official entry for 2010. The assumption is that they will take the place of a faltering USF1 or Campos Meta. With the rumored salvation of Campos by investor Jose Ramon Carabante, one has to assume they are looking at USF1 very closely now and rumors are swirling that Ecclestone may be trying to orchestrate mergers and acquisitions in order to get the three teams on the grid in some shape or fashion.
“This morning, 19 February 2010, was another stepping stone for Stefan Grand Prix,” said Stefanovic in a telephone interview. “This morning at 8:00, the first car – Stefan 01 – was fired up for the first time.
“The car ran faultlessly, there was no problem whatsoever, and we could race or test on a racetrack, but we’re just waiting for tyres.”
It’s a big moment for the team and it sounds as if the test went according to plan. Mike Coughlan surely must be proud of the test; he’s like a walking technical manual. Wonder how much McLaren or Ferrari elements have been designed in to the Stefan 01?