Panthera Team Asia has become the next name to put itself forward to enter Formula 1 after its Team Principal and Co-Founder Benjamin Durand signalled the Asian group intend to sign up to the FIA’s Expression of Interest process for prospective new entries.
Last week the sport’s governing body, the FIA, formally opened the application process to identify teams that would be seriously looking at entering F1 in 2025 at the earliest.
The report stated that any new organisation looking to field a team must display its “technical capabilities and resources” alongside an ability to “raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the Championship at a competitive level”.
Andretti Autosport’s combined bid with General Motors became the first to submit its interest, but with the FIA’s intention to welcome up to two new teams for 2025 – a year before the sport undergoes its next big technical overhaul – it’s paved the way for Panthera to issue its intentions.
“We still think that the Asian market and Chinese market are the next markets to be developed,” Durand told PlanetF1 last month when asked about the reasons for Panthera’s F1 ambitions.
“They are all looking west, nobody’s looking east. Now Formula 1 is focusing a lot on the US which is normal because it’s growing but once that market is there; Asia and Africa are the next big market for F1, especially now that Zhou [Guanyu] is in the Championship.”
Zhou became China’s first full-time F1 driver last season and will be on the grid again with Alfa Romeo this year.
However, despite Zhou’s entry and Honda’s success as an engine supplier to Red Bull in recent years, there has been no Asian representation from the perspective of a constructor since Vijay Mallya’s Silverstone-based Force India outfit entered into administration midway through the 2018 season.
Panthera had provisionally looked at entering F1 back in 2019, but the implications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic a year later forced them to reconsider their plans. With the widespread impact of the virus now subsiding, however, Panthera’s attempts to enter F1 have regathered momentum.
“It’s been a rollercoaster. We could have given up a long time ago on this project, but we believe in it,” Durand said.
Although Durand has also stated the finer details of the group’s project are yet to be determined, Panthera is currently in the process of “working on” its Expression of Interest proposal and more news will be coming “soon.”