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Dubai team to make F1 debut in 2006
Alan Baldwin | October 16, 2004 19:24 IST
A Dubai-based team plans to enter Formula One in 2006 with Mercedes engines and the help of former champions McLaren.
Team Dubai F1 said on Saturday that it had filed documentation and would lodge a mandatory $48 million (27 million pound) security bond with the sport's governing body, the International Automobile Federation, to secure a slot.
It said in a statement it had also entered into exclusive negotiations with both German carmaker Mercedes and British-based McLaren for engines and technical assistance.
A McLaren spokeswoman confirmed that was the case.
The team, the second in the space of a week to announce its entry in 2006, said it had talked to a number of teams and owners about buying an existing operation but had instead decided to go it alone.
Last weekend, the Russian-backed Midland F1 team announced that it was planning a British-based entry from 2006 with a car built in Italy by Dallara. However they have yet to source engines from a manufacturer.
The Dubai statement said work would begin next year on a technical centre and wind tunnel in the Gulf Emirate with much of the long-term development work on the team's car done there.
The headquarters will be in Dubai with manufacturing facilities based in England.
A spokesman for the Belgravia Group advising the team said talks with Mercedes were well advanced, with only peripheral issues to be resolved, and the Dubai operation could move into McLaren's old factory in Woking.
He said the team would get the same specification engines as McLaren and a news conference would be organised in Dubai in November, after the holy month of Ramadan.
"Dubai is committed to developing and supporting world class expertise in carefully-targeted high-technology industries," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation and a key backer of the team.
"Formula One, with its focus on technological and engineering innovation, provides us the perfect environment in which to develop and demonstrate our skills in these cutting edge areas."
Maktoum added in the statement that the developments were the first step in an investment and development programme for the motorsport and automotive industry which would result in further related Formula One opportunities in the Emirate.
While Bahrain hosted the first Formula One race in the Middle East last April, Dubai is determined to raise its own profile in the sport.
The Emirate is also promoting the A1 Grand Prix series, designed as a winter championship to fill the months when Formula One is inactive. It is due to start late next year.
Dubai could have bought an existing team, with Ford-owned Jaguar on the market and both Jordan and Minardi fighting for survival.
But Tim Fulton, representing Team Dubai, said in the statement that had not been an attractive proposition.
"We ultimately concluded that the acquisition of an existing team would never enable us fully to demonstrate our own commitment and excellence since success would inevitably have been linked with the existing team's brand and values," he said.
The last new team to enter Formula One was Japanese car giant Toyota in 2002. There are currently 10 teams with a further two slots available.
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