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Spyker F1: Business as usual?

  • Story Highlights
  • Spyker F1 chief Collin Kolles insists the team able to complete the season
  • The team can operate independently of financial woes at Spyker Cars
  • Spyker F1 seeking to find settlement to dispute over unofficial B-teams
  • Next Article in World Sport »
by James Snodgrass for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Speculation has been rife about the future of the Spyker Formula 1 team for some time. First there were the financial struggles at Spyker Cars, the luxury automobile manufacturer that gave the team its name. Spyker Cars took out a $4 million loan to keep afloat, using the "Spyker" name as collateral.

Even if Spyker Cars sells its entire stake in the team, FIA rules state that the team must retain the Spyker F1 name

Then there was the surprise sacking of the Dutch driver, Christijan Albers after he had failed to bring in promised sponsorship revenue.

What was most surprising about this was that Albers was widely assumed to be the person who brought the Spyker name -- and money -- to the team. His father in law, Roel Koojiman, is a wealthy Dutch financier and Albers was close to Michiel Mol, the team's owner.

Last week Spyker Cars announced that it was to sell some or all of its stake in Spyker Formula 1. Immediately Spyker Formula 1 responded with a press release intended to quash speculation that the team would not be able to finish the 2007 season.

Speaking exclusively to CNN, team principal Collin Kolles hinted that a rescue deal is in place: "Actually it's too early to talk about it. The only thing I can say is that we will be racing in Formula 1 in the future."

One potential problem is that FIA rules mean that a team cannot change its name mid-season. In September 2006, when Spyker bought the Midland F1 Racing team, it used the Spyker name as a headline sponsor: "Spyker MF1 Racing". This year it was allowed to change the team's name to "Spyker Formula 1" but it may have to retain the Spyker name.

"That's for sure," continues Kolles, "you even cannot change name more than once in five years without agreement from the other teams. It's speculation, the name might change, but it might not -- even with different ownership."

Midland F1 had only raced for eleven grands prix before Spyker's takeover. In 2005 it had raced under the "Jordan" name after having bought the Jordan team the previous year. So the team has already had three names in as many years.

Further complicating Spyker's difficult year is its legal challenge against Scuderia Toro Rosso and Super Aguri.

Spyker maintains that these teams are merely B-teams racing cars that are barely-disguised versions of the outgoing cars of their parent teams (Red Bull Racing and Honda, respectively). Spyker's contention is that, as an independent constructor, it has to pay for its own chassis development, its own wind-tunnel testing and so on.

This situation is to deepen next year, when FIA regulations will allow new customer teams to join the grid. One of these is expected to be Prodrive, who many speculate will be driving McLaren MP4-22s (this year's McLaren F1 car) in the 2008 season. Kolles believes these new teams -- along with Toro Rosso and Super Aguri -- should be treated differently to the genuine constructors' teams.

"We have a clear line on this," says Kolles, "first of all arbitration will continue. We made a verbal agreement after the British Grand Prix. We don't have it in written form yet. Until we have agreement we believe customer cars cannot be equally regarded as constructors' cars. And that's our position, and not only our position but the position of basically all the other teams."

Looking to the future, Kolles is bullish and points to the team's past success as Jordan: "The team is still the fifth most successful team in the current Formula 1 era. It's more successful than Toyota or Honda. We have shown -- as in Monte Carlo in the free practice -- if it's raining we are competitive and the team works very well in moments where you have to make quick decisions." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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