Aston Martin could enter F1

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The Independent Online

Former Benetton and BAR team boss David Richards is considering returning to Formula One next year providing a proposed cost cap is in place, he said today.

Richards is chairman of British sportscar maker Aston Martin, majority owned by Kuwait's Investment Dar, as well as engineering company Prodrive. He would not confirm what name his entry might adopt.

"We are very serious about entering Formula One in 2010 providing that it is commercially viable and there is the potential to be fully competitive," Richards said in a statement.

"On the commercial side we would want a situation where the sort of budget you would need to be competitive would be sensible," he added.

"And we would expect to see a reasonable return on our investment in the longer term.

"We would also want the rules to be such that they provide the potential for us to be fully competitive. We would not want to be in Formula One just to make up the numbers," added Richards, whose former driver Jenson Button is leading the championship ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Aston Martin, a marque linked as much to fictional spy hero James Bond as motor racing, has never before ventured into Formula One.

Prodrive, who ran Subaru's world rally team until the manufacturer pulled out this season, had been due to enter Formula One in 2008 but withdrew due to uncertainty over future regulations.

Richards said that gave him a headstart on planning, with that project and key personnel ready to be "switched back on".

The new 150-strong team would use either a Cosworth engine of one provided by a current manufacturer and could be housed in Prodrive's Banbury headquarters using the space left by the rally programme.

Some teams competed with budgets of more than $300 million last season but the governing International Automobile Federation has proposed an optional budget cap of 30 million pounds ($43.69 million) next year.

Those accepting it would be granted greater technical freedom compared to the restrictions imposed on teams opting to continue with unlimited budgets.

Richards said there was "the basis for a real revolution in the sport", rewarding those with the most ingenious engineers and best organisation rather than the most money.

"Assuming that the new rules are commercially viable and there is the potential to be fully competitive, then we are ready to press the go button," he said.

Formula One has three vacancies after the failure of Super Aguri last year. Several parties have shown interest in entering in 2010, including renowned British chassis maker Lola and a U.S.-based team.