Stefan GP's Formula 1 car has been fired up as the Serbian squad pushes on with its plans to race this year despite not having an entry.
The SF01 car, which was designed by Toyota before the Japanese manufacturer decided to leave F1, is scheduled to make its track debut at the end of the month at the Portimao circuit in Portugal. Team boss Zoran Stefanovic told AUTOSPORT everything is going according to plan, and that the car is ready to begin testing after being fired up at Toyota's Cologne factory, of which Stefan GP owns two small exclusive areas. Stefanovic added, however, that the team is still working on a tire supply deal for its first test.
"This morning was another steppingstone for Stefan Grand Prix," said Stefanovic. "This morning, the first car – Stefan 01 – was fired up for the first time. The car ran faultlessly, there was no problem whatsoever, and we could race or test on a racetrack, but we're just waiting for tires."
The Serbian said his team is already comprised of nearly 60 people plus the staff from Toyota, with which the team has a technical collaboration deal. He said he is expecting news from the FIA soon, as doubts continue to surround both the Campos Meta and the US F1 teams.
"We are expecting it to be clarified relatively shortly because all of us know what the situation is. In the meantime, we are working very heavily on sorting out the drivers' contracts," added Stefanovic, who said talks with former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve are progressing well. The Serbian confirmed earlier this month that former Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima is already part of the team.
"At the moment, we have to say that we are very near," he said of drivers. "We are very near to a contract with Jacques Villeneuve, and probably also with another driver as our reserve driver. But the first one which will be with us is Kazuki Nakajima."
Full Q&A with Zoran Stefanovic