Will there be a new Team on the Grid in 2022-Total-F1
Updated: Apr 5, 2021
It is well documented that Formula 1 is approaching a new dawn. The budget cap will be coming in as of next year and will continue to decline on a sliding scale. Starting at $145million in 2021, with further reductions of $5million over the subsequent two years. As well as this plans to distribute financial rewards to teams at the end of the season aim to bring more parity across the paddock, to help the financially fragile smaller outfits on the grid. And finally, the exciting new regulations planned for 2022 hope to bring the closest racing Formula 1 has seen in decades. These changes appear to offer viability for a new team to join the Formula 1 paddock.
One such outfit that has taken these new changes to Formula 1 as a possible means to enter the sport is the Panthera Team Asia project. This Asian backed enterprise is led by team principal Benjamin Durand, the Frenchman most recently having led the Russian backed SMP SportsCar Racing Outfit. Running out of a base in the UK, the team has a head of aerodynamics in the shape of Tim Milne, whose most recent Formula 1 experience was taking the lead on the Manor 2017 car that failed to take to the grid as the team folded. A team based in the UK, with two senior personnel with a resume that boasts high-level motorsports experience with Asian Financial backing, looks on paper to be a good fit for Formula 1. Durand himself is particularly confident of taking a grid slot come 2022, having had constant discussions with Formula 1 regarding regulations and the viability of the situation. The budget cap and scope for open-sourced parts, in particular, encourage Durand. The team has even undertaken preliminary work on car design and are believed to be in pursuit of extra investors. To the casual observer then, all signs seemingly point toward there being an eleventh team on the 2022 grid.
While it may seem like an obvious choice to allow Panthera Team Asia to join the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and co. on the grid, those in charge of the sport remain cautious about expanding beyond the ten teams already in the paddock. It is no secret that Covid-19 has brought the sustainability of the sport into question and Ross Brawn has reiterated time and again that Formula 1 must steady the ship financially before considering any extra competitors. It is also important to note that when the Panthera Project was first launched last year, FIA President Jean Todt also advised caution, and was unaware of any approach from a new team. And let us not forget that Formula 1 has a long history of ill-fated new teams joining the paddock. Perhaps the most notable example in recent memory is that of HRT, Caterham and Manor, all of whom lasted only a few seasons, and languished at the back of the field. This is another factor that Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s Managing Director of Motorsports is keen to point out. To paraphrase comments he has made to the media, new teams will only be considered if they can prove they will be competitive and add to the show. He is also of the opinion that the grid as it stands is at a good size.
Panthera Team Asia is making all the right noises, and the outfit has made it clear it is very keen to become a part of Formula 1. Rumour has it that this outfit is one of several that have made enquiries about going F1 Racing. However, it seems that those in charge of the sport are in no mind to open the door to any new teams as of yet, remaining confident that the existing teams in the paddock have enough to offer in terms of spectacle. So whilst 2022 offers promise to the likes of Panthera Team Asia and other hopeful F1 newbies, for the time being, the World’s Premier Motorsport is more interested in protecting the futures of those currently racing before allowing any upstarts to start ruffling feathers.
Written 14th July 2020
This article was written for the now defunct website Total-F1; "Dan consistently delivered high quality articles for Total F1, showing great writing ability and creativity. The articles were always delivered ahead of schedule and surpassed expectations". Connor Sutton, Chief Editor @ Total-F1