Bernie Ecclestone has directed blame at US F1's failed bid for the absence of Stefan GP from this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix field.
Stefan had concluded a deal with Toyota to compete with the departed works team's 2010 cars, and even sent equipment to Bahrain in the hope of taking up a place on the grid, despite its cars having never actually turned a wheel. However, Stefan was never granted an official entry, and when US F1 failed to appear, the FIA declined to make the American outfit's spot available to the Serbian group.
Asked in an interview with F1's official website if Stefan could have replaced US F1 this year, Ecclestone replied, "Absolutely. But it was difficult because the other people [US F1] had an entry and kept saying that they were going to be here, that there is no problem and everything is fine. As they had an entry we could not say, 'Sorry, we don't believe you.' I said that, and got a lot of criticism. I said that, and it turned out to be the truth. Unfortunately, it was not possible to get Stefan GP in at the last minute. You need to do such things a bit more sensibly."
The FIA announced earlier today that the 2011 approval process for a 13th F1 team would be open to new applications – rather than reserved for US F1, as the Charlotte squad's team principal, Ken Anderson, had requested. The FIA's World Motor Sport Council also suggested that sanctions could now be assessed against US F1 for its failure to fulfill its commitment to compete this year.
"With regard to the US F1 team's non-participation in the 2010 championship, the World Council mandated the FIA President, in full compliance with the new code of practice for disciplinary matters, to take forward the most appropriate action." the Council announced in a statement. The WMSC added that for next year, an official "reserve" entry would be named in case of a repeat of the US F1 situation.