Campos Grand Prix says its plans to enter Formula 1 have been made harder by the scrapping of a budget cap rule, but the team is confident it can still be successful in the sport.
The Valencia-based team was one of three outfits that was awarded an entry to next year's world championship, but it has had to rethink its plans after originally only getting involved because of the attraction of a £40 million ($65m) budget cap. With the FIA and Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) agreeing to ditch the budget cap in favour of a cost reduction program, however, Campos has had to rethink its approach to F1.
And managing director Daniel Audetto, who has returned to F1 following a spell at the helm of Super Aguri, has revealed that the team's investors came close to pulling the plug on the operation totally because of the revised regulations.
"Our investors, who already put the money up front because the FIA had to do a thorough due diligence, they are not happy at all, and we can even say upset, with how things have been handled with the entries," Audetto told AUTOSPORT. "When we entered and we showed we had the resources and money, which was set at £40 million for the budget cap, we had the guarantee of many performance advantages. First there was the engine being set at 20,000rpm. There was the unlimited number of engines per season, there was unlimited testing mileage. We had also some aerodynamic devices, and other little elements too.
"These all disappeared, and the only thing that did not disappear was the budget we already had. So we cannot now afford to go the level of others, so with £40 million, and 120-130 people will be very tough."
He added: "I have to tell you, at one point, the investors considered pulling out totally, to stop. So for me, but especially for Adrian [Campos], it was not easy to convince them to stay, because we could no longer promise the moon.
"They had already spent in the region of 8 million Euros ($11m), and they even consulted their lawyers, about the situation – and it would have been the end forever, because if you start legal action then it is difficult to come back from there."
Despite the setback caused by the rule changes, Audetto believes that the team can still establish itself in F1 – with its new car due to run for the first time in January next year, and work on sponsors and drivers to be ramped up over the next few weeks.
"From September, we will start to make our presentations to potential sponsors and we will start to close some deals with drivers, because drivers and sponsors are often connected," he explained. "So from next month, we will become more operational and fully operations from October 1, with the first test in the middle of January. Then we will be built up from a small budget, and if we can show like we did with Super Aguri that we are professional, that we can do well compared with the money we have, I think we can attract more sponsors and investors.
"We are also relying on the FOTA cost reduction program that eventually, when the costs are reduced to what they were in the early 1990s, then everyone will be close to our budget. But that will take three years."
GP2 race winner Russian Vitaly Petrov is favorite for one of the seats at Campos, with experienced Spaniards Marc Gene and Pedro de la Rosa also strongly linked to the team. Audetto said serious talks were ongoing with seven drivers, but he did not expect a final decision to be made until later in the year.
"We are not in any hurry," he explained. "In our situation, where we are a new team, and because of what is going on in F1, with BMW and with the reduction of costs, I think we well wait until October or the end of the championship. We are not in a hurry.
"We are not going to test the car until the middle of January, so maybe we can get a better deal then. But if there is an opportunity to get a good driver with a good deal now then we will do it.
"Adrian will make the decision because of his experience and his knowledge. He brought up Fernando Alonso, so there is no one better than Adrian to choose. I can help him with my advice, but the final decision is his."