Guest Author - Christine Blachford
As this season draws to a close, everyone is looking ahead to the next. Driver's are signing contracts and teams are proclaiming what progress they will make for 2008.
One team, though, has no car with which to progress. Prodrive are the new team for 2008, having bid for, and secured, the 12th and final place on the grid. With so little time, Prodrive had plans to purchase their chassis from another team, widely speculated to be McLaren, and therefore join in the customer car row.
The problem lies with the unconfirmed nature of the rules and regulations for 2008. At the moment, teams abide by the Concorde Agreement, which is due to run out this year. No one is able to agree on the issues for the next though, and so it's thought likely that the current agreement will roll over until next year.
The current agreement means that customer cars are not welcome on the grid. There are already legal battles with Super Aguri and Toro Rosso who are handed cars from their sister teams Honda and Red Bull respectively.
Martin Whitmarsh at McLaren has stated that negotiations with Prodrive are not continuing, at least not for now, and although there is no reason, it is most likely due to this contentious issue. The FIA International Court of Appeal is going to be reviewing the case soon, and Prodrive believe talks could be renewed with McLaren, if the findings are in their favour.
Either way, though, time is running out for Prodrive. To be able to compete in the season opener of 2008 in Australia, in the manner that Prodrive boss David Richards would like, they need the car now. All manner of testing, research, and adjustments will need to be made to their new chassis, and the delay is not helping anyone.
When Super Aguri joined the grid a couple of seasons ago, using an old Arrows chassis, people did not expect they would be able to compete. The construction of this team had occurred at record pace, and no one thought they would be ready. They may have struggled a little at first, but there's no doubt that they survived and thrived on the thrill of the race. Dave Richards believes the delay is only short term, and if not, they are looking at alternative options to enter Formula 1 next year. He had better hope it is only temporary, because Super Aguri managed a minor miracle with their entry, I don't believe it could happen again.