Ecclestone: Haas one of two new teams for Formula 1 (UPDATED)

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UPDATE (4:56 p.m. ET): After Bernie Ecclestone’s proclamation that Gene Haas’ Formula 1 application had been accepted, the NASCAR team owner has said that he has not yet been notified by the FIA of an official decision.

Haas also told the Associated Press that he’d need to know within the month to be ready to field an F1 program for next year.

“We’ve actually done quite a bit of planning,” he said to the AP. “We’ve actually got a lot of things in the works. But you really can’t sign any contracts until we have a license, and that’s issued by the FIA.

“I have no doubt that even if Mr. Ecclestone says that he’s OK with it, there’s probably still another few weeks of legal paperwork going back and forth before they would actually issue you one.”

Ecclestone has said that two new teams have been accepted into Formula 1 by the FIA for the 2015 season, and one of the berths has gone to the American project led by Haas.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Haas’ project had been given the nod on the condition that the funding was in place for the team to run in the next four seasons of Formula 1.

The FIA’s initial tender suggested that just one team was required, but now Ecclestone has said that a second team will also be welcomed into the fold.

“They will be accepted,” Ecclestone explained to the media in Bahrain when asked about the Haas project. “We’ve also accepted another team as well. Whether they make it or not is another story.

“We’re happy to have another couple of teams. I’ve spoken to Jean Todt about it. We agreed yesterday, if two teams want to come in, we’ll let them in.”

The second team is thought to be a Romanian entry led by former team principal Colin Kolles. The third and final proposed project, led by Serbian businessman Zoran Stefanovic, is expected to be rejected due to a lack of resources in place unlike the Haas and Kolles projects. Interestingly, this would mark the fourth occasion that Stefan GP has been denied entry into Formula 1.

Although the FIA is yet to release an official statement regarding the new teams, Ecclestone’s comments certainly make for good reading for those at Haas, and also Formula 1’s standing in the United States.

Should both teams get accepted and make the grid, we would have 26 cars and drivers racing in Formula 1, but it remains to be seen if some of the pre-existing teams will remain in the sport.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.