Formula One's new entrants will be allowed to miss the first three races of the season without being penalised, Jean Todt, the International Automobile Federation president, confirmed yesterday. Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 commercial supremo, has consistently said he does not expect US F1 and Campos to be ready for the opening race in Bahrain on March 14. "In the last draft of the Concorde agreement it's written that a team can skip three races," Todt said.
US F1 and Campos, two of four completely new teams this season, have both so far named only one of their two drivers for the new season. They have yet to launch their cars, missed the first test in Valencia last week and will skip this week's session in Jerez. Adrian Campos, a former driver, has said he hopes to settle the future of his new team this week, having already signed Bruno Senna, the Brazilian who is a nephew of the late Ayrton Senna.
Tony Teixeira, the boss of the A1 GP series, is believed to be in talks to buy into Campos while the Serbian-based team Stefan GP say they are all but ready to replace a failed new team and have Ecclestone as a backer. Todt remains cautious, however. "If one of them doesn't make it, it doesn't mean another team comes in," the Frenchman added. Virgin have already launched their car and fellow new team Lotus are set to unveil theirs on Friday, after Red Bull's presentation at the Jerez test on today.
Todt said he would serve only one term as president of the automobile federation, joking that he was not paid enough, and expressed surprise that a Paris court had overturned the organisation's life ban on the former Renault boss, Flavio Briatore, for fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix by having one of his car's crash deliberately. * With agencies