Zoran Stefanovic has emerged as a candidate pursuing an entry to Formula 1 for the 2019 season, in what represents his fifth attempt to do so since 1996.
Stefanovic made a concerted effort to enter the sport earlier in the decade with his eponymous Stefan GP outfit, and is looking to try once more, having met with FOM’s Managing Director of Motorsports Ross Brawn in the Austrian GP paddock earlier today.
His previous efforts have often been based around piggybacking terminally troubled teams, having attempted to acquire the ill-fated Mastercard Lola project in 1997, and then doing so again in 2010 with the aborted Toyota TF110, for which he had agreed in principle a technical support deal with Toyota Motorsport. Stefanovic went so far as to sign Kazuki Nakajima for the latter project, though at no point did car or driver appear at the racetrack.
Now, the Serbian has made clear the ball is already rolling on his next attempt to enter the sport, having made plans for a technical base and key staff ahead of his meeting with Brawn.
“I am here to meet Ross Brawn because I am setting up an F1 team based in Italy,” he told Autosport. “Before coming to Austria I’ve put together some very important agreements: I defined that it will be based in Parma, which is located a reasonable distance from the wind tunnel.
“I’ve also signed a contract with a specialist in aerodynamics to help work on the project.”
The specialist in question is Enrique Scalabroni, former Chief Designer for Ferrari. Hiring a technical guru at the first stage of his Formula 1 projects is nothing new for Stefanovic, having employed a similar tactic in his very first attempt at entering the sport in 1996. He used former Forti Technical Director George Ryton – who like Scalabroni was also a former Ferrari alumnus – as a consultant before securing any equipment or drivers with which to run a team.
Crucially, there is no potential for Stefanovic to enter the sport unless a formal tender process is opened up by the FIA, which the organisation’s president Jean Todt indicated would only happen on the provision of receiving applications from ‘serious candidates’.
“When we feel it is time we will be able to make a tender,” Todt said last month. “At the moment we have ten teams and the idea is to have up to 12 teams. So we have an opportunity, if we have one or two strong newcomers it could be possible.”