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Carabante (left) has taken full control from Campos (right)
Last night it was confirmed that the majority shareholder of the Campos Meta team, Jose Ramon Carabante, had taken full control of the team from founder Adrian Campos. Former Jordan, Midland, Spyker and Force India man Colin Kolles has taken Campos' role as Team Principal, and the position of Managing Director from Daniele Audetto.

Campos Meta began began as a partnership between Adrian Campos, former Grand Prix driver and boss of successful junior formula team Campos Racing, and Enrique Rodriguez, of Spanish sports management agency Meta Image. Carabante was brought in as a shareholder at a later date.

According to Kolles, in an interview with Adam Cooper, his role is "to clean up the chaos". While it sounds as though the management team of Campos and Audetto at Campos Racing's factory in Valencia have not done the best of jobs, the real question is based around Campos's partner, Meta Image. The team have obviously failed to find the necessary sponsorship, which would have been the priority of Meta Image at it's Madrid HQ.

I find it hard to believe that, even in the current economic situation, no Spanish firms are interested in getting their name onto the Formula One grid. Just take a look at the frenzied support for Fernando Alonso from the Spanish fans at the testing sessions at Valencia and Jerez. While they may be focused onto Ferrari, sponsored by Spanish financial giant Santander, they will be watching the races on TV throughout the season, and visiting the races at Barcelona and Valencia. They will see the Campos cars racing alongside the Ferraris. As a result of the Fernando Alonso effect, Spain is one of the best growing markets for F1 in the world. For a Spanish firm to have its name on the cars of the first Spanish Formula One team, one of which driven by the extremely marketable Bruno Senna, would be a perfect marketing opportunity in the new financially-aware era of motor racing. Or so you'd think. Meta Image will not come out of this well, certainly not in motorsport, where it manages Campos' Euro F3 Open champion, Bruno Mendez.

For the short term, Carabante and Kolles will fund the rescue mission as the team attempts to make it to Bahrain. The team still needs to sign a second driver to partner Senna. With the worrying silence from USF1, who now look certain to miss the start of the season, expect Jose Maria Lopez, the Argentine touring car champion who has funding from the country's government, to feature heavily in the speculation. Media in Argentina says that Lopez has been told by USF1's Peter Windsor that the team will not be in Bahrain. Reports suggest that Lopez and his management have been in discussions with Campos. Another driver who has been mentioned is Indian Karun Chandhok.

The team still has a lot of work to do to ensure they get to Bahrain with two cars, but Kolles insists they will get there. It's looking far more promising there than at USF1, with Serbian hopefuls Stefan GP ready and waiting, with Toyota's cars and Kazuki Nakajima as a driver, to step into the void should USF1 not be allowed to skip the first four races, as boss Ken Anderson has requested.

Photo Credit: Campos Meta
 
 
Renault are still to announce a teammate for Robert Kubica for 2010. Chances are it won’t be Frenchman Romain Grosjean, the team protégé and GP2 frontrunner that stepped in to replace Nelson Piquet following his dismissal following the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. Before that race, a lot of fuss was made over Jaime Alguersuari, the 19-year old Red Bull Junior who had only ever driven an F1 car in a straight line, but would make his debut for Toro Rosso at the Hungaroring. 

OK, Grosjean was older and more experienced than Alguersuari, and had done a bit more F1 testing mileage, but it seems that he was not given the same allowances as the Spaniard. Expecting Grosjean to be faster than his predecessor Piquet was unfair, as Piquet had raced for the team in F1 for a year-and-a-half previously, and had done considerably more testing before-hand when he was the main Renault reserve for 2007, when the testing regulations were far more relaxed. Also, Piquet had driven the 09-spec Renault for 10 race weekends previously, in addition to pre-season testing, whereas Grosjean had done little more than some roadshow demonstration runs. 

As proven by Giancarlo Fisichella when he moved from Force India to Ferrari to deputise for Felipe Massa, it is very difficult to race a car that you don’t know against the majority that have raced theirs for half a year. It seems Grosjean was not given the time, mainly by the media but also by the fans, to adjust and learn the car. Besides, he was pretty much matching Piquet’s pace, impressive given the facts I previously highlighted. Yes, both were in the lower reaches of the midfield, but maybe this was down to the car. Fernando Alonso was far quicker than his two Renault teammates, but still only managed eight points-scoring finishes. Yes, that’s eight more than Piquet and Grosjean, but this is the 2005/06 World Champion I’m talking about here. The same Alonso that is rated by many as the most complete driver in the field. The same Alonso that Ferrari courted for so long and then paid Kimi Raikkonen so much to leave the team and make way for the Spaniard at the Scuderia. I’m not suggesting that Renault were wrong to get rid of Piquet, for he was clearly not going to become a race-winner anytime soon.

I’m not suggesting that Renault should have Grosjean driving rather than the currently-unemployed for 2010 Nick Heidfeld. What I am saying is that a driver that showed a fair amount of promise in the junior categories should not be forgotten by the Formula One field, and should be allowed to show his capabilities on a level-playing field. Unfortunately most of the top GP2 drives for 2010 have gone now, and he does not have the finance nor the experience required for the vacancies at Campos Meta, Sauber and USF1. It therefore seems that F1 has already seen the last of Romain Grosjean.

The whole case raises the issue of the testing ban on young and reserve drivers, which BBC commentator Martin Brundle raised at Autosport International last week.

What do you think? Does Romain deserve a second chance or not? Leave a comment below.
 
 
Here is our list of the 71 drivers who raced in Formula One between the Australian Grand Prix of the 2000 season and last weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which closed the 2009 season. Deciding the order was a tough business, as amount of races, car performance and the change in points system had to be considered.

71) Luca Badoer – Ferrari

70)  Yuji Ide – Super Aguri

69) Tarso Marques – Minardi

68) Alex Yoong – Minardi

67)  Gianmaria Bruni – Minardi

66)  Patrick Friesacher – Minardi

65) Franck Montagny – Super Aguri

64) Enrique Bernoldi – Arrows

63) Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso

62) Christijan Albers – Minardi/Midland/Spyker

61) Tomas Enge – Prost

60) Gaston Mazzacane – Minardi/Prost

59) Markus Winkelhock – Spyker

58) Sakon Yamamoto – Super Aguri/Spyker

57) Romain Grosjean – Renault

56) Nelson Piquet Jr. – Renault

55) Nicolas Kiesa – Minardi

54) Robert Doornbos – Minardi/Red Bull

53) Giorgio Pantano – Jordan

52) Johnny Herbert – Jaguar

51) Scott Speed – Toro Rosso

50) Narain Karthikeyan – Jordan

49) Pedro Diniz - Sauber

48) Luciano Burti – Jaguar/Prost

47) Ralph Firman – Jordan

46) Justin Wilson – Minardi/Jaguar

45) Tiago Monteiro – Jordan

44) Marc Gene – Minardi/Williams

43) Zsolt Baumgartner – Jordan/Minardi

42) Alan McNish – Toyota

41) Kazuki Nakajima – Williams

40) Antonio Pizzonia – Jaguar/Williams

39) Sebastien Bourdais – Toro Rosso

38) Anthony Davidson – Minardi/BAR/Super Aguri

37) Vitantonio Liuzzi – Red Bull/Toro Rosso/Force India

36) Jean Alesi – Prost/Jordan

35) Sebastien Buemi – Toro Rosso

34) Kamui Kobayasi – Toyota

33) Ricardo Zonta – BAR/Toyota

32) Jos Verstappen – Arrows/Minardi

31) Mika Salo – Sauber/Toyota

30) Eddie Irvine – Jaguar

29) Adrian Sutil – Midland/Spyker/Force India

28) Christian da Matta – Toyota

27) Alexander Wurz – Benetton/McLaren/Williams

26) Christian Klien – Red Bull

25) Olivier Panis – BAR/Toyota

24) Pedro de la Rosa – Arrows/Jaguar/McLaren

23) Timo Glock – Jordan/Toyota

22) Takuma Sato – Jordan/BAR/Super Aguari

21) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan/Prost/Arrows/Sauber

20) Jacques Villeneuve – BAR/Renault/Sauber/BMW Sauber

19) Nico Rosberg - Williams

18) Heikki Kovalainen – Renault/McLaren

17) Robert Kubica – BMW Sauber

16) Mark Webber – Minardi/Jaguar/Williams/Red Bull

15) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren

14) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams/McLaren

13) Jarno Trulli – Jordan/Renault/Toyota

12) Giancarlo Fisichella – Benetton/Jordan/Sauber/Renault/Force India/Ferrari

11) Nick Heidfeld – Prost/Sauber/Williams/BMW Sauber

10) Ralf Schumacher – Williams/Toyota

9) Sebastian Vettel – BMW Sauber/Toro Rosso/Red Bull

8) David Coulthard – McLaren/Red Bull

7) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari/Honda/Brawn

6) Felipe Massa – Sauber/Ferrari

5) Lewis Hamilton – McLaren

4) Jenson Button – Williams/Benetton/Renault/BAR/Honda/Brawn

3) Kimi Raikkonen – Sauber/McLaren/Ferrari

2) Fernando Alonso – Minardi/Renault/McLaren

1) Michael Schumacher - Ferrari

Tell us your opinions on our ranking by leaving a comment below.

 
 
The 2010 F1 grid is starting to take shape. Only Ferrari and Red Bull are sorted with their two drivers though. We evaluate the rest of the grid, including the four new teams.

An announcement regarding Williams’ line-up is expected on Monday, with Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg expected to be announced. Nico Rosberg will then take Ruben’s seat at Brawn.

Kimi Raikkonen said in Thursday’s press-conference that McLaren was his only option, along with rallying (where joining Petter Solberg’s team has been speculated) and a sabbatical. He does not consider Toyota to be an option.

Toyota does not appear to be keen on holding onto Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli. German media reports say that Glock has signed for Renault, while Trulli appears to be looking elsewhere. This leaves Heikki Kovalainen and Kamui Kobayashi for Toyota. Adrian Sutil, Nick Heidfeld and Kazuki Nakajima are also possibilities.

Force India will likely hold on to Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi. Indian Karun Chandhok could race for the team, although boss Vijay Mallya has said that none of his countrymen are good enough for F1. Toro Rosso will probably hang on to Red Bull hotshots Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari. No other Red Bull drivers are really good enough.

Campos look likely to sign McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa, while Brazilian media says that Bruno Senna has signed for the team. Other candidates include former Campos GP2 drivers Vitaly Petrov, Romain Grosjean and Giorgio Pantano.

Lotus are believed to be interested in Trulli, while Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy could be his teammate. He finished second in World Series Formula Renault 3.5, while Alguersuari finished sixth.

USF1 are struggling to find American drivers with enough experience. Jonathan Summerton is widely rumoured with the team, but I would sign Graham Rahal, who nearly finished fifth in IndyCar this year.

 Manor appear to be keeping quiet about their lineup, although Renault tester Lucas di Grassi has said he is close to a deal but waiting for Renault to decide their lineup. Anthony Davidson and Nick Heidfeld are good candidates for the other seat. 

Have we missed something? Know of any other drivers close to deals? Leave a comment below.
 
 
Kamui Kobayashi will follow in the footsteps of a previous Japanese Toyota Development/Test Driver driving for the DAMS team in GP2, Kazuki Nakajima, in making his F1 debut at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Two years ago, Nakajima impressed Williams with his speed, despite making a hash of his first pit-stop and running down his pit crew. Kobayashi will be looking to make a similarly positive impact this weekend as he fills in for the injured Timo Glock, but you may be asking who he is. Here is the lowdown.

Having been signed by Toyota back in 2004, Kobayashi, currently 23, spent two years in Formula Renault in Europe, winning the Italian and Eurocup titles in 2005. After this he spent two years in the Formula Three Euroseries with leading team ASM, finishing 8th and 4th in the standings.

He replaced Williams-bound Nakajima at GP2 squad DAMS for 2008 and also took Nakajima's Toyota test driver role. Despite finishing 6th in the 2008 GP2 Asia Series, he only managed 16th in the main series. He won the Asia series last winter, but has struggled again in the main series in 2009, finishing 16th again.

When Timo Glock missed Friday practice at the Japanese Grand Prix, Kobayashi was given the chance to prove his skills in front of his home crowd at Suzuka, outpacing veteran teammate Jarno Trulli in the wet sessions. Kobayashi was the automatic choice to replace Glock for the Brazilian Grand Prix following his heavy qualifying accident at Suzuka.

A good performance will give him a good chance of racing for the team in 2010. Toyota are aiming for leading names in their cars, but have already missed out on Robert Kubica and look set to miss out on Kimi Raikkonen to McLaren. Heikki Kovalainen and Nick Heidfeld are candidates but the Japanese board would like to have a Japanese driver to stir interest back home for the Cologne-based team. That would give Kobayashi the chance, along with Nakajima, who looks set to leave Williams following their cancellation of the Toyota engine contract.
 
 
Robert Kubica has been announced as a Renault driver for 2010, replacing Ferrari-bound Fernando Alonso.

Kubica, who made his F1 testing debut for the team after winning the World Series by Renault in 2005, will join from BMW Sauber, whose future is in doubt despite a buy-out by the Qadbak group, as they are currently without a confirmed entry for  next season.

Romain Grosjean, currently Alonso's teammate at Renault, has yet to be confirmed for 2010, and could yet be replaced. Potential replacements include Heikki Kovalainen, likely to be replaced at McLaren by Kimi Raikkonen, and Timo Glock, who may not be retained by Toyota. Glock's current teammate, Jarno Trulli, is even less likely to remain with the team as they chase bigger names.

Trulli will therefore probably end up at one of the new teams, most likely with US F1, who have just admitted that they may end up running no American drivers due to a lack of talent Stateside.

Nico Rosberg and Rubens Barrichello look set for a swap, while Nico Hulkenberg, GP2 champion, is expected to replace Kazuki Nakajima at Williams. Force India and Toro Rosso are unlikely to make any changes to their line-ups, although Force India are thought to be evaluating Karun Chandhok for the seat alongside Adrian Sutil. Nick Heidfeld may well end up with one of the new teams because of an abundance of German drivers amongst the current teams.

We will keep you posted over the coming weeks with more information, including who we think will drive for the four new teams.
 
 
Sebastian Vettel won the Japanese Grand Prix as Jenson Button finished eighth to ensure that Rubens Barrichello, who finished seventh, only reduced the Brit's lead by one point.

Vettel led from pole position for Red Bull, ahead of a surprise second place for Toyota's Jarno Trulli, with Lewis Hamilton finishing third.

Button is now 14 points ahead of Barrichello, with Vettel just two points further back.

Full Report at Autosport.com