Colin Kolles, the new Campos Meta team principal, is convinced the team will be on the grid for the opening grand prix of the season in Bahrain on March 14. The former Force India chief was appointed to his new role last week after an internal takeover of the financially-troubled Spanish team.
Kolles, who claims he has been brought in "to clean up the chaos", is being assisted by the former Red Bull Racing technical director Geoff Willis. Although Campos have failed to make the final test practice in Barcelona, which started yesterday, Kolles said he firmly believed they will be in Bahrain. "It is very tough but we will make it because I never give up," said a bullish Kolles. "We will have the cars in Bahrain and we will be running. This in itself will be pretty much a big achievement."
Campos only have one driver signed up, the Brazilian Bruno Senna, the nephew of the late three-time world champion, Ayrton. However, with Campos looking for drivers to pay for their seat to assist in their time of crisis, Senna's position may be in doubt. The Argentine Jose Maria Lopez, who had signed a deal with the other struggling new team in Formula One, US F1, is poised to switch to Campos as he has £5million (Dh28m) worth of sponsorship.
Karun Chandhok, who is able to tap into the burgeoning Indian market, has also been mentioned, with Kolles to confirm his driver line-up by the end of next week. Speculation was rife yesterday that the troubled US F1 team will miss the first four races of the season, and, in all probability, the entire season. Lack of funding has hurt the American team's hopes and they have reportedly asked to be allowed to sit out the early races and join the action in Spain in May. But with few staff and no chassis built the chances of the team realistically racing appears slim.
Red Bull threw down the gauntlet with a strong performance yesterday on the opening day of final testing before the season begins next month. Eleven teams are in Barcelona for the four-day test, which is due to finish on Sunday, as it is the last chance for the cars to complete set-up work and evaluate settings ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix. On yesterday's showing, Red Bull look to be a force to be reckoned with as the Australian Mark Webber dominated the timesheets.
His fastest time of the day was 1min 21.487secs, which proved to be a second quicker than anyone else on the track, although his day was blighted in the afternoon by a mechanical failure. While the team acknowledged they work on qualifying set-up, thus having the car run light on fuel, it was still a strong performance from Webber as he reeled off eight laps that proved faster than anyone else set.
Red Bull were the form team in the second half of last year's championship, winning six of the last 10 races, including the last three in Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Nico Rosberg's Mercedes GP car and Nico Hulkenberg's Williams-Toyota were next up, while the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and the McLaren-Mercedes of world champion Jenson Button both racked up mileage as they worked on their race set-up.
Alonso was hit by a mechanical failure which stopped his Ferrari out on the track in the morning, while Lucas di Grassi ended Virgin Racing's day early after he crashed. * With agencies