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GP Week : Issue 80
SERBIA'S Zoran Stefanovic has announced plans to make his third bid to join the F1 circus, as the sport's governing body continues its search to replace the defunct USF1 team in time for 2011. Under the Stefan GP name, Stefanovic saw his original bid to join the 2010 grid rejected, before his second attempt to join the field using Toyota-designed cars also failed earlier this year. Stefanovic's latest bid was confirmed after unveiling plans to create the Stefan Technology Park, 25km from capital city Belgrade to be the headquarters of Stefan GP's F1 operations. The park also promises to feature a 3.5km Formula One-standard Grand Prix track, with a completion date of two years for the entire project. However, with Stefan GP's parent company AMCO having been embroiled in financial controversy since its most recent F1 bid, the FIA will have to ask hard-hitting questions even before considering them as a credible entry. Nevertheless, Stefanovic claims Stefan GP's facilities will be on par with some of the top teams' in the near future. "This is proof that we want to put ourselves on the map as a serious hi-tech company, and that we are serious about competing in Formula One for the long term," said Stefanovic. "Bearing in mind that we will soon be on a par with top teams, in terms of facilities and organisation, as [the] Stefan Technology Park [is] looking to be compared with them, we expect many positive improvements in the future." The similarly suspect Durango team is so far the only other outfit to officially confirm its 2011 F1 entry, although Spain's Epsilon Euskadi is also believed to have applied for the slot. Stubborn Stefanovic still shootin FERRARI sponsors Santander scored high in the publicity stakes last week after announcing it had gifted Fernando Alonso a €10m life insurance policy, with special emphasis on the double world champion's thumbs, as the Spanish bank went heavy on promoting its new accident and life insurance division, Santander Seguros. The announcement was made at a press conference in Madrid last week, at which an extension to Alonso's personal sponsorship deal with Santander was also confirmed. "Alonso's thumbs are a big symbol as, apart from being essential when driving a Formula One car, they represent a sign of victory and that everything is under control and well protected," said Santander. Meanwhile, the 28-year-old is looking forward to his first home race as a Ferrari driver next weekend in Barcelona. Alonso has won on home turf just once, in 2006, and hasn't won since the opening race of the season this year. Nevertheless, he is looking forward to the track's grandstands being covered in red, in contrast to the blue of his home region Asturias. "I will race there for the first time with a Ferrari, so the grandstands will be covered in red, I'm pretty sure about that, just my fans from Asturias might contrast to it a little, because they're usually dressed in blue," said Alonso. €10m thumbs up for Alonso "This is proof that we want to put ourselves on the map as a serious hi-tech company ..." 6