The Belgrade Amateur Dramatic Society

What kind of a racing team talks about the big name stars it is about to sign and the fantastic achievements it might pull off, without first getting the basic details into place?

Well, apart from USF1…

To go racing in F1, you need the following check list:

– cars (preferably with big noisy engines attached)
– men (or women) to drive these devices
– a big pile of money
– an official entry, preferably with big rubber stamp, saying “FIA”
– spares, in case something falls off
– a mechanic who knows which bits go where
– some spanners
– a big van in which to put everything
– fuel to power the cars (and the truck)
– a large bucket, filled with fresh chutzpah
– a book of rules, preferably for Formula 1.
– someone who understands the book of rules
– Some black round rubber things called tyres…

Stefan GP was supposed to be a serious operation. There was never much to back up this belief, but Bernie Ecclestone was being very supportive. He said that there is money coming from the Serbian government. There seemed to be a chassis and engine supply deal from Toyota.

But somehow they forgot to do a deal for a supply of tyres…

In the words of John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”

Back to square 1.

72 thoughts on “The Belgrade Amateur Dramatic Society

  1. if I remember correctly the tyre supply deal went very easy for Super Aguri despite it was an unstable and precious project when it started to live up so I’m surprised that getting tyres for a car is a problem…

  2. The tyre timing issue is pretty silly. Still, at least they look like having something that could pass for a F1 team in the near future. USF1 and Campos are proving that even that achievement is not as straightforward as the likes of Ferrari and McLaren make it look…

  3. Is not the issue that Bridgestone do not have to (and therefore won’t) supply 2010 spec tyres until they have an official FIA entry? Given its Bridgestone’s last year in F1 they probably do not need to feel particularly generous, even when Bernie is asking them for a favour…

  4. Surely the solution to this problem is fairly straightforward?

    Bridgestone will only sell tyres to a team that has an entry for 2010 and the money to pay for them. USF1 has the former but not the latter. Team StefangivemeanentryyoubastardsIhateyou F1 presumably has the latter, but certainly not the former. A match made in heaven?

    Well, not heaven exactly, but anywhere in Bernieland will do.

  5. Harsh Joe… why would you bash a team that has a dream and resources to back them up! Maybe USF1 would be a better target? Or is there a someone running that team that you don’t want to make fun of as he will be sitting beside you soon in the media centres around the world…

    Why would Stefan even think that they wouldn’t have tires after seeing Toyota test for a whole year on F1 rubber before they were part of the show?

  6. Yeah those tires (or tyres) things are rather important. Cars don’t operate well when they are on blocks.

    I get the feeling that we will have 12 teams on the grid this year with the FIA opening the bid again this fall for the 13th slot. Hopefully real racing teams like Lola, Prodrive, and Epsilon Euskadi will get it this time so we don’t have to go through this tomfoolery.

    Sorry to degrade USF1 like this, but the FIA should of known better and done better due diligence… but that is another story entirely.

    BTW Joe: If I reading the stories right from Carolina, there seems to be massive difference between what was said in the Concorde Agreement and what is allowed in the FIA rulebook. For example, the number of races you can miss seems to be inconsistent between the two documents. It is either that or people just didn’t bother reading contracts or rule books that carefully.

    This smells like a lawsuit to me. Please don’t tell me we are going to be facing another start of the year with high FIA court room drama.

    I knew I should have went to law school. That where the real racing action seems to be at these days…

  7. Apparently Bridgestone are not allowed to supply tyres to those teams who do not have an official entry into formula one. So i cannot see how this can be StefanGP’s fault.

  8. Of course if you can’t get this season’s tires from Bridgestone, who said they’ll only supply approved teams, which makes sense. You really can’t put the rubber to the road.
    That piece of information has been the biggest chink in Stefan’s armour. But if they were to get a deal with FIA this week, could they make it if the other details are worked out.
    Well, do they actually have the cars in that mysterious container in Bahrain?

  9. Joe, do you have any idea why Bernie is so keen on this team, Politics?, looking for another circuit in that part of the world? Money?, Or feels it’s a better combination for F1? Or all the above and more. My question is not meant to be snide. It’s just that we found Bernie usually operated on two or three levels regards the same situation! We would get what we wanted but he would often come out a double or triple winner, He was very straight forward with us, no complants, just interesting…. There was almost always something going on in the basement, not dishonest, just very, very clever….

    1. Chuck Jones,

      You know Mr E. His primarty motivation is to bring money into the business. My guess is that there is a pile of money from Belgrade that he wants to see shifted into the sport. And good for him!

  10. How do the tyre supplies work? With Bridgestone being the single supplier I would have thought they are under some sort of obligation for them to supply all teams with an official entry?

  11. Interesting. One team has a tyres, but no car. Another team has a car, but no tyres. Maybe it is time for the teams to join…

  12. Joe, you must be the chief operating officer they are missing! It just seems strange that nobody has thought of it (but nothing is surprising with F1 I guess…), or has some strings been pulled behind the scenes to make sure these guys don’t make it, which would threaten the backmarkers? Since Bridgestone is leaving anyway maybe they don’t fancy pissing off MB, Ferrari, Reanult…. but then shouldn’t Toyota have lent a helping hand to Zorro

  13. Joe – I really enjoy your work. I just can’t wait until you can convince the Mole to come out of winter hybernation. I’m sure he’s off on some Govt. mission, but when he gets in touch do let us know.

    1. Dave in NZL. I will argue with him again. I heard a whisper that at least one Penelope will be coming to my event in London on the 26th… But I guess she will be undercover…

  14. I very much doubt this is a case of Stefan not having enough money to buy tires. Granted, F1 tires are expensive, but their cost is tiny in contrast to what Stefan has already spent. It just doesn’t pass the smell test that Stefan couldn’t afford a few grand for tires. I think this lack of tires is far more likely to be a case of the pressure being put on Stefan by the FIA.

    Bridgestone’s F1 tire supply is not contracted by the teams, it’s contracted directly by the FIA. If the FIA tells Bridgestone -not- to sell tires to Stefan, Bridgestone is bound and determined to listen.

    By threatening to take USF1’s slot, the FIA have pressured USF1 to sell. Unfortunately, this move would likely have a completely contrary impact on Stefan’s motivation. After all, why would Stefan want to pay millions for the USF1 slot if looks as though the FIA is mere days away from taking it? A wise poker player would hold out for a better deal.

    By refusing to allow Bridgestone to sell tires to Stefan, the FIA prohibits the nascent team from doing any meaningful testing. It sends the strongest of signals that the FIA is NOT playing. It tells Stefan to stop mucking about and purchase the darned USF1 grid slot already. Don’t count on us to give it to you.

    1. Random,

      The details of why the team does not have tyres is not the issue here. It is best to get things in order and then start talking about Ralf Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve… Otherwise people in F1 will not take you seriously.

  15. If only the FIA’s requirements to gain an entry slot in F1 were as thorough as your list to go racing in F1…

    Anyway…really enjoy the BLOG…thanks for your writings and sidepodcast chats!

  16. Joe, to be fair, isn’t this a case of Bridgestone refusing to supply tires to anyone not holding an official F1 entry? Thought I had read that somewhere.

    In any event, the folks at Stefan GP are an optimistic lot…

  17. I thought they were in talks with Bridgestone. But the japanese company is said to be unable to supply a team without official entry. So I suppose Stefan will get tyres once the FIA entry is sealed. Correct me if I’m wrong

  18. Surely there is a whole room full of last years tyres somewhere in the Toyota factory that they could use for testing? there would have to be at least 4 laying around that would allow them to at least do some installation laps!

  19. Joe .

    As of late your writing is very mean spirited. I believe as many do that fair play to Stefan GP for giving it a go.

    1. Darren,

      This is all well and good, but Formula 1 is not for amateurs. The sport is a success because of its professionalism and its high standards. These must be maintained. It is not mean-spirited to point out major failings. It is having a grasp of the realities. If they can get to Bahrain with cars and an entry then I will be very happy to see them.

  20. @beau all tyres used in F1 are collected by Bridgestone, cut up to analyze them and then incinerated. So no – there isn’t a room full of old tyres somewhere at Cologne.

  21. The Serbians would appear to be the perfect team to test the rubber for next year though. At least they would if we had a supply!

  22. I think Stefan gp resembles a football more than a racing team at the moment. Jean todt and bernie are skirmishing and the result will be interesting. Bernie v max ended roughly in a draw, I wonder how he’ll fare against todt.

    In so far as Serbia goes they are spending a lot of money to erase the past and secure entry into Europe.

    It is an interesting cultural thing there how Serbia is so pro Europe but Croatia (the public as opposed to the politicians) are so against it. I think a serbian backed team would enjoy remarkable support. For a few years. Bernie avarice ever present sees the money bags and knows it won’t be there for long.

  23. Joe

    Actually, I think the details of why Stefan doesn’t have tires -is- rather important, especially when taken in light of your fiendishly snarky blog posting.

    I’ve nothing against snarkiness, I quite enjoy it. But the nature of your posting does tend to suggest that Stefan committed some major planning error in not having tires to go with the rest of their significant investment. I think that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    It’s quite likely that the actual reason Stefan doesn’t have tires has a WHOLE lot more to do with FIA politics than any technical oversight by the team. The FIA has applied pressure by holding back the tires, now it’s Stefan’s move. The FIA expects Stefan to make a reasonable offer for USF1’s entry. If Stefan makes the offer and USF1 turns it down, look for the FIA counter-move. Stefan will -miraculously- be approved as a tire customer, putting even further pressure on USF1 to sell up.

    Bottom line: If Jean Todt wanted Stefan to have tires, they’d have tires.

    1. Random,

      The bottom line is not about Todt. The bottom line that there are rules. These need to be respected. That is all. It is about the integrity of the sport. Yes, of course, it would be good to have another half-decent team in Formula 1, but if Stefan is granted an entry just because they happen to be standing there banging on the door, what would happen when Prodrive and Lola did the same thing. You have to have the cart and the horse in the right order. I hope that a solution will be found. Logically, it should be. But there have to be rules.

  24. Mr Saward

    This Blog has been drawn to my attention recently.

    As Chief Steward of the Wootton-under-Edge Marrow-Growing Competitors Association I would like to formally protest at your dismissive and snide attitude to what is a serious and respected annual event. Fancy mentioning us in the context of Formula One. We get a lot of this sort of remark and are getting very fed-up with it. So much so that we have recently taken legal advice with a view to persuing legal action through our body (the Fruit Integrity Association) who have just engaged a new lawyer, one M Mosel, I believe. I understand he is quite a force to be reckoned with in both public and private arenas.

    We operate our sport in a spirit of openness and co-operation for the good of all and in the wider interests of the future of the sport, encouraging public access and wider participation at all levels. Please desist from making any more of these unfair remarks or we will be forced to invite you to judge at out next event.

    Col Splodge-Bilchett

  25. Well, at least Stefan GP has a car, which is more than could be said for USF1, no? I don’t recall you being as critical toward that ramshackle operation as you are toward Stefan.

  26. I can totally understand Bridgestone not supplying them with race tyres. That’s fair enough – they don’t have an entry so they don’t have rights to the tyres. But what I don’t understand is them also not letting them have the only realistic alternative, i.e. GP2 tyres. It also seems they didn’t let them use the tyres the teams can use for photo shoots although they’re not that good for this sort of running anyway.

    Given that Bridgestone are the only tyre supplier out there that could supply tyres to a prospective F1 team, I find it both selfish and unusual given Bridgestone’s previous links with Toyota. I wouldn’t be surprised if words have been said behind the scenes. Meanwhile we have the situation of any team that wishes to compete in F1 in the future or even just use relatively recent F1 machinery is now seemingly not allowed to use proper tyres, because they’re not in F1. I’ll be watching to see if Anthony Hamilton’s proposed F1 training scheme suffers from the same problem.

  27. @ipopic, point taken, but there must be a way of getting even older spec tyres without a contract or how else would the private car owners be able to get them, sure they will differ to this years but at least they would be able to turn a wheel in some form of anger!

  28. Why can’t they use GP2 tires? According to my memory, Ferrari did this a while back to circumvent the testing regulations. After all, they just need to get the car running and check that everything works.

  29. Those PR pictures of Zoran ‘I’m not a James Bond baddie honest” Stefanovic sitting on the Toyota F1 car… what are those round black things he was sitting on????

  30. I’d rather have most of the list than none of the list like USF1. Maybe you should do an article mocking a team that has no car than the one that simply cannot get tyres.

  31. Maybe Michelin has a few old F1 tyres lying around. As long as Stefan doesn’t go testing at Indianapolis they should be okay.

  32. I also wondered why they don’t use GP2 tyres, but apparently Bridgetone was unable to provide GP2 rubber at such short notice. Now I remember that Stefan GP already mentioned not to have a tyre contract a month ago, so how short is this “short notice”….

    The Stefan GP outfit looks like one big joke. It makes an unserious, unprofessional impression and it’s not respecting the rules of the game…

    I sometimes wonder if Stefan GP really exists. Toyota has never issued any statements about a takeover or selling its cars. Everything we know comes from short messages on the Stefan GP site and a few statements from Mr. Stefanovic.

    I also ask myself if Stefan GP has the funds to compete. They did not have the money to buy the Toyota entry – which was available for some time…. If they have the money, why didn’t they buy the entry?

    Look at the AMCO site, look at the Stefan GP site… It looks like the work of amateurs who fake a business and fake a Formula 1 team.

    It would be a shame if Stefan GP would be allowed an entry. Instead I would welcome to see Campos and USF1 in Formula 1. At least they are run by people who are serious about what they’re doing.

  33. Having read the Autopsort artical the whole scenario seems reasonable from Stphans point of view.

    They were planning to use GP2 tyres anyway. But Bridgestone would not supply (in time?) and he wasn’t prepared to use something else.

    Now you might wonder why not use something from Cooper or Pirelli but what would be the point. I costs a lot of money to test an F1 car and for no useful data.

    They might not have tyres but they have a car.

    Why is Stephan getting all the stick? Seems to me that it is USF1 that haven’t got thier shopping list priorities right.

  34. Seems to me like folks are missing the more interesting part of the story here in favour of taking a few cheap shots at a very easy target.

    If the team actually had Bernie on side as has been suggested and had any level of support from the FIA tyres would magically appear out of the air. F1 tyres, GP2 tyres – it wouldnt matter alot really.

    Instead Bridgestone are saying no, because noone has asked them to say yes. And theres the real story: the Serbs simply arent wanted.

    1. D,

      You make a common mistake of believing that Bernie controls everything. It is simply not the case. He wants the team to take part but he cannot tell the FIA what to do. He has to find a way for it to happen using the existing system. I also do not think that it was a cheap shot. Formula 1 is a world of professionals. Teams that have their act together get their ducks lined up before they shoot their mouths off. That’s all. It is logical.

  35. Reading through the comments, it’s interesting that so many people are so quick to defend Stefan GP from the criticism that they weren’t organised enough to sort out any tyres. Especially as many of those same names have been lambasting USF1 for everything and nothing for months…

  36. I think this could be part of a wider dispute, a cold war between the ‘new’ FIA and the FOM. Bernie is known to want Stefan in, whilst the FIA probably don’t given their recent disputes. I read a recent quote from a Bridgestone official that they would not (i.e. not could not) supply Stefan GP with GP2 tyres, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the reason behind that is that Todt or a colleague has been on the phone to Bridgestone to advise them not to give Stefan tyres

    I don’t think professionalism is too much of an issue other than those in F1 may not want to see an unprofessional team taint the image of the sport. I think the Stefan team could do as good, if not a better job than all the new teams – you have to consider that this is largely the ex-Toyota team with a Toyota car and a Toyota engine, so it’s likely to be more competitive than anything Virgin, Lotus or in particular Campos can come up with. It is only a superficial issue at this point – take out Stefanovic and put in the professional presentation of someone like David Richards and it wouldn’t matter, even if it was the same team of employees, facilities etc

  37. There is one thing that surprises me about this… The FIA wants teams to prove they are capable of racing in F1.

    The FIA does that by checking the bankaccounts and perhaps some other useless things (I think).

    Now a team turns up with a car, drivers, trucks, plans and other usefull things and probably money and now that team is not able to prove itself on a racetrack because the FIA has probably forbidden Bridgestone to supply tyres… it is a bit catch 22 in that respect.

    Perhaps the FIA should look into its own procedures? Any team that has a car, drivers, money and other stuff on Joe’s list should be able to get tyres? If only to prove they are good enough to perhaps be getting an entry the following season?

    On the other hand, if you give Jacques Villeneuve a contract… then that itself should be a reason for a lifetime ban. That guy had enough chances to prove himself after 1997 (13 years ago) and he never could. Even in a Peugeot Le Mans car he was slow. Give a young guy a chance or even Bourdais.

  38. Joe,

    Do you know if it is correct that they were in fact intending to test on GP2 tyres as hinted at in this thread? If this is the case and Bridgestone couldn’t / wouldn’t supply them, I personally feel that the FIA or someone must have been pulling some strings to stop them from testing. Again as hinted at in this thread possibly they were stopped from testing on GP2 tyres as a way of “encouraging” them to buy USF1?

    (No doubt this subject will come up on Friday. Talking about Friday are there still any plans for people to meet up for dinner beforehand???)


  39. “But this is Formula 1. It is not the Wootton-under-Edge Marrow-Growing Competition.”

    Very amusing Joe.

    Perhaps they should add this to the end of BBC’s award winning ‘This is Formula 1’ introduction piece from last year?

    If you don’t know what I am talking about and you like having the hairs raised on the back of you neck, look here:

  40. “You cannot be serious!” Johnny Mac is playing tennis 2 miles from me, in the “Champions Tour”. On match point yesterday, the chair umpire called it out and got the McEnroe stare-down.

    Nice work Joe on your method of responses. As your blog traffic has increased dramatically, there have been those people that want to argue and insult. They will only stay if others take the bait and argue back.

  41. Marrow fanciers,

    Many thanks for your communications. It caused me to laugh so loud a scared a co-worker! It’s made my afternoon!

    This may explain why there have been many marrow sightings in Charlotte, NC recently…

  42. You have the order of your list wrong. “- Some black round rubber things called tyres…” goes first, then you build the car, and then you build the team. This is how the industry regulates itself. Tires are at the top of the hierarchy, not at the bottom, as one might presume out of ignorance.

  43. “Harsh, yes. But this is Formula 1. It is not the Wootton-under-Edge Marrow-Growing Competition.”

    But Joe, doesn’t Formula 1 look a tad unprofessional ATM with three of the four new teams unable to make the grid in their original guise? Manor was saved by Virgin, Campos has been saved (maybe too late to make the first portion of the season), and USF1 won’t race this year! They were apparently chosen because they had facilities and sponsorship contracts in place to compete at this level… or maybe the only contract they required was with Cosworth.

    I am sorry, but I admire Stefan’s tenacity…

  44. Joe

    Certainly rules should be respected, but let’s be completely candid here. Over the past two decades, the rules have generally been whatever the FIA says they are.

    In this case, I’m not aware of any rule that would prevent the FIA from taking an entry from a team that has -publicly admitted- they will violate the Concorde agreement by missing the 1/4 of the season. Nor am I aware of any rule preventing the FIA from finding a suitable replacement for an empty grid slot.

    Of course, things would be far simpler for the FIA were USF1 to simply sell up to Stefan. This is why I think we’re seeing the FIA put heavy pressure on both camps. Still, I wouldn’t challenge Todt not to pull USF1’s license. I believe he has both the moral and legal authority to do so if he saw fit.

  45. Random,

    I think you are making some wrong assumptions here.

    Firstly, FIA can’t pull an entry licence just like that. There has to be a legal reason for doing it, and the legal reason in this case would be if the team missed a race (or three races, depending on which you believe is true).

    Secondly, for Stefan GP to be granted an entry right now all signatories of Concorde Agreement would have to give a consent. Therefore, the only real solution for Stefan would be to buy an existing entry.

    Finally, if I am correct, Bridgestone are only allowed to supply F1 tires to those who have an official entry.

  46. It would be fun to be a fly on the wall of the FIA legal department. Can the FIA just give entrance to Stefan? JOE regarding checklists…is there no completion date checklist that the FIA follows for new teams, ie. chassis has to have past testing by X days before season opening?

  47. One wonders if they could have run on Avon F2-spec rubber. Are the differences in spec that dramatic?

    Presumably Stefan scheduled the “test” knowing that they had no tyres in the hope of forcing the hand of the FIA to supply them. But surely the sight of the Stefan/Toyota trundling around Portimao, even at half-speed on lower-formula tyres, would have created more momentum behind Stefan than a cancelled test and assertions about Jacques Villeneuve…

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