29 Jan 2013
Autosport ran a story today regarding an entity called Scorpion Racing looking to buy the remains of the HRT team. I wrote about the HRT team around the time the team initially came to their demise, looking back through the 3 years the team had spent in F1 - http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/hrt-3-seasons-in-f1.html
HRT epitomized an F1 backmarker's story more or less there to make up the numbers, however unlike the teams taking up this role before them they survived much longer than their predecessors.
Their largest failing from a commercial standpoint was to use a National identity failing to allure much investment outside of the teams regional scope. The only sign of corporate sponsorship that adorned the F112 was from brands associated with their drivers, TATA and KH-7 from Narain Karthikeyan & Pedro de la Rosa respectively. The lack of money coming into the team reflected on track with a car that had been designed with KERS in mind never receiving the horsepower boost from the technology due to lack of funding.
As I explained in the article previously mentioned the opening seasons for HRT revolved around understanding the cars baseline, improving mechanical performance and introducing high/low downforce configurations when the demand needed to be met. Unless whoever is in charge of Scorpion Racing has extremely deep pockets they too must follow this path in 2013 whilst focusing their efforts on establishing the foundations for the huge technical upheaval in 2014.
One of the largest stumbling blocks even if they can convince the FIA through due diligence to them making the grid in Melbourne would be having the team and cars prepared and able to make 107% of the lead teams qualifying time (although as we know HRT have been there before) This is not a Brawn GP style coup, the HRT team has already been liquidated with all equipment (that was owned) sold off including the car transporters. Furthermore I'm quite sure the staff who were reportedly mis-handled at the end of HRT's tenure haven't simply been waiting around in case someone bought the team and so hiring staff will also have to take place.
Even with all of the obstacles in place the task isn't insurmountable but will require someone with experience to lead the venture to make things a reality. Colin Kolles would certainly top my list of people to lead the team having inside knowledge of the previous lineage and access to most of the equipment needed that he could lease to the prospective buyers until they can amass their own.
So who's behind Scorpion Racing? Well Autosport go as far to say that they are backed by Canadian and American investors. Not a bad thing seeing as next year F1 is hoping to have 2 American races on the calendar (Maybe even a third if the Mexico plans come off) and of course Montreal. The team are also likely to take up residence at Silverstone which places them perfectly within reach of a plethora of F1 personnel either with teams now or transitioning between teams. The US has it's fair share of petrol heads with deep pockets and purely speculating but 2 that come to mind who could get involved in such an audacious project would be Mario Andretti & Jay Leno with the latter maybe co-ersing NBC into the fold with them taking on F1 coverage for 2013. In terms of Canadian based F1 connections Villeneuve comes to mind and has certainly been linked to an F1 return over the recent years even though coming back to drive may be a step too far. (Please bear in mind those names are simply my errant thoughts)
In terms of the financials it would appear that Thesan Capital have made the team disappear into a financial black hole and now they will simply be selling the IPO rights to the F112 and the left over chassis. However funding an F1 team as we know is no mean feat especially when you have to start from scratch and need to start developing your 2014 challenger immediately alongside the current campaign (This is where the real money starts to come into play and makes the number to run for next season partly obsolete) . So lets put a figure on it, I believe to run at any decent kind of level with the minimum criteria being transferred from Thesan Capital mentioned above the team would need somewhere between £60 and £80 million. I'm quite sure there are a significant number of pay drivers still available for 2013 that could heavily contribute towards those costs with the Canadian/American investors picking up the remainder.
At least it appears Mr Ecclestone is on side with the Autosport article citing that Bernie has been in touch with Scorpion Racing stating that if the takeover were to happen he see's no reason why they couldn't take HRT's place. So we sit, wait and kind of hope with a hand placed over our eyes peering through the gap we make between our fingers to see if something is pheonix'd from HRT's ashes.