17th October 2014; When I co-founded the Status Grand Prix team in 2005, we had an ambition to become established as one of Europe’s foremost single seater racing teams outside Formula One. Today’s announcement that we have acquired Tony Fernandes’ Caterham GP2 team, adding it to our existing GP3 franchise, is an important step on that path. For our major shareholder Teddy Yip and partner David Kennedy this news means that we are well placed to develop the Formula One drivers, engineers and mechanics of the future. But is that the only reason – to provide a conveyor belt of talent to Formula One?
For Status the objective is very clear; to maintain the winning heritage which saw us win the 2009 World Cup of Motorsport, and achieve 9 victories in GP3 since 2010, and to commercialise it with our drivers, sponsors and technical partners.
Winning is hard to do in any professional sport, and in GP3 and GP2 the technical complexity of competition is framed within the context of our drivers being very young and often facing the white-heat of global competition for the first time. It is one thing to win in domestic lower-formulae; in GP3 and GP2 you are racing the next generation of Hamiltons, Alonsos and Vettels. It is not for the fainthearted.
But it is very exciting. Exciting because we race in front of the same spectators on the same tracks during Formula One weekends, and we know only too well that the teenager sitting in our car today may well be the hero standing on the top step of the F1 podium in a year or two. We have seen former Status drivers such as Canada’s Robert Wickens and Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa go on to test Formula One cars within months of stepping from a GP3 car. In GP2 we stand alongside the main act; our first race is immediately after F1 qualifying, and our second not before the Grand Prix on a Sunday.
Our commercial target for the combined GP2 and GP3 teams is very simple; to work with companies and brands that want to be associated with speed, technology, team work and being Number 1 at what they do. Only 2 teams have won in Formula One this season; an unforgiving environment for the other teams and their sponsors. In GP2 our team can win just as it has done in GP3, and we aim to outline a range of marketing benefits that companies large and small can utilise to advance their businesses 52 weeks of the year.
Is this is a sales pitch? Yes, why not? Who wouldn’t want to stand on the pit wall in Monaco and watch their team win around the streets of the famous Principality? It might be a couple of hours before the F1 race, but your corporate guests will enjoy the success just as much and the difference will be a winning opportunity. There’s also the matter of there being a lot fewer zeroes at the end of the budget required. In a ‘less is more’ business environment, being the launchpad to future World Champions is a nice position to be in.