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Sports News

INTERVIEW-Motor racing-Stefan GP expect to race in Bahrain

BELGRADE, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Stefan GP boss Zoran Stefanovic still believes his team will be on the grid at Formula One’s first race of the season in Bahrain next month despite not having a 2010 entry and having to cancel a test.

New teams Campos and U.S. F1, who do have entries, are facing a race against time to be ready for March 14 with the American outfit looking very unlikely to compete in Bahrain.

Governing body the International Automobile Federation (FIA) has said teams will breach regulations if they miss a race, leaving Serbian Stefanovic hopeful that Stefan GP can jump in.

“Definitely, we are waiting for something to happen because the time is very short and the deadline for Bahrain is approaching,” the businessman told Reuters on Wednesday.

“If you are going to Bahrain you have to be packed by next Wednesday and we think we will be able to reach something by then.”

Asked if the team could join F1 later in the year, he added: “Technically it’s possible but we are going to be in Bahrain. We are not saying it’s for sure, but we are looking forward to it.”

Stefan GP are in the same position as Campos and U.S. F1 because they have not signed a second driver and have not tested their car.

A planned test in Portugal this week had to be cancelled because of the lack of a tyre deal.

“We have been unable to get the Formula One tyres because the FIA and Formula One have a contract stipulating that only the teams that are already in Formula One can get the Bridgestone tyres,” Stefanovic said.

“We believe the FIA has to release the proper tyres to us for safety reasons. We expect it to happen and we have very good faith that it is going to happen.”

VILLENEUVE HOPE

Stefanovic’s team have a technical assistance deal with Toyota, who quit Formula One last year but had already designed a 2010 car. Stefan GP are using their car and Cologne factory.

Driver Kazuki Nakajima has already signed while the team are talking to former world champion Jacques Villeneuve, although the Canadian has played down the chances of a deal. “It’s not happened yet but everything except his signature had been done,” Stefanovic said. “Probably in the next two or three days, we will be reaching some sort of an agreement.” F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has offered help as Stefanovic aims to make Serbia obsessed with the sport.

“I’ve been involved in engineering in the last five years and I’ve been interested in Formula One for a long time. I think Bernie supports everyone and I think he supports us because we are pushing for it. We are working, not talking,” he said.

“The impact will be huge and a lot of people in Serbia don’t realise that yet. The positive image of Serbia being a part of Formula One is something any country would wish for, so it’s a plus one way or another. Also, it’s a huge opportunity to get into high-tech business.” (Writing by Mark Meadows; Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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