Scramble to join F1 grid hots up as new prospective team enters equation

Jamie Woodhouse
Saudi Arabian GP Formula 1 paddock entrance.

The Formula 1 paddock entrance.

The competition between new teams looking to join Formula 1 has ramped up further, with an outfit backed by U.S. and South East Asian investment now on the scene.

The FIA has opened an ‘Expressions of Interest’ process for prospective new teams to come forward with bids to join the Formula 1 grid, and there has been no shortage of takers.

Interest from the Andretti-Cadillac union in joining the F1 grid has long since been public knowledge, that outfit without doubt the most vocal on their intentions to enter the sport.

But, the FIA is prepared to take up to two new teams on, and so it comes as little surprise that Andretti-Cadillac are far from the only interested party.

In addition to this proposed entrant, Formula Equal has also announced its intention to join the grid, the project led by former BAR chief executive, Craig Pollock, who seeks to ultimately have a equal 50/50 split in its workforce between male and female employees.

Billionaire Calvin Lo has also stated his interest in getting involved in the Formula 1 scene.

Now though, there is a new project that has emerged, which will be led by co-founder and CEO Benjamin Durand, who had been working on an entry under the Panthera Team Asia banner.

With fellow co-founders Paul Fleming and Andrew Pyrah named chairman and chief commercial officer respectively, they represent further figures who were involved in the Panthera Team Asia bid.

This new project goes by the name of ‘LKY SUNZ’, which is describing itself as ‘a new entertainment and youth culture-focused motorsports team’.

The ‘LKY’ is an abbreviation of ‘lucky’, a term which features prominently in Asian culture, while ‘SUNZ’ represents the sun, which rises from the east and is a symbol on multiple flags in Asia.

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The prospective team says it has secured investment from United States-based sports fund Legends Advocates Sports Group, as well as from Asian sources with the plan being to set up base in South East Asia with the creation of a ‘state-of-the-art’ carbon neutral facility.

The team would look to tap into North American, Asian and African communities as part of a ‘commitment to providing underrepresented communities opportunities in motorsports’, with a targeted arrival date on the Formula 1 grid of 2025/2026.

“We are excited to see our investors share our vision of fusing youth culture and racing to create a team that will disrupt Formula One,” said Durand.

“The sport’s popularity has grown exponentially and every current stakeholder in the sport has been responsible for that, but our guiding principle is to bring something different into the sport to appeal to new audiences.

“By being the only team operating outside the traditional F1 corridors and developing bespoke programmes to attract talent from underrepresented communities, we can bring a diversity of thought yet to be seen in Formula One.

“We of course aim to be competitive on the track but we also commit to entertaining fans off the track. To support our plans, we have already onboarded an impressive team of motorsport executives, music and entertainment industry experts and creatives who will help bring this vision to life.”

The prospective team confirmed its confidence in hitting the FIA’s May deadline to submit their application.