Leading junior single-seater team and long-time Formula 1 aspirant Hitech has revealed it has officially applied for a slot on the 2026 F1 grid as a new team.
The news was mentioned within an announcement that Kazakh businessman Vladimir Kim has taken a 25% stake in parent company Hitech Global Holdings Limited.
“In 2023, after 20 months of planning and extensive preparation at its Silverstone base, Hitech made its application for entry into the FIA Formula 1 World Championship from the 2026 season, a move that would complete its single-seater ladder and demonstrate that Hitech has all the right people, experience and resources to compete alongside the best teams in the world,” said the Hitech statement.
NEW TEAMS PROCESS STATE OF PLAY
The extended deadline for applications for new F1 teams, with the option to apply to join the grid in either 2025, ’26 or ’27, passed in mid-May. A decision had initially been expected by the end of June but it is thought that may now be mid-July given the two-week extension on the application deadline.
Teams that went into the full application process had first been required to submit a preliminary expression of interest with a significant amount of information about the prospective team and the people behind it, accompanied by a non-refundable €20,000 fee. They then needed to supply significantly more detail plus a €300,000 fee (partly offset by the initial €20k) in the next stage.
The selection criteria includes among other things the technical and financial resources of the team and for the first time considerations of sustainability and equality, diversity and inclusion.
WHO ELSE IS IN THE RUNNING?
The FIA made clear from the outset that it would not provide regular updates on the ongoing process, which began with its president Mohammed Ben Sulayem mooting the need for more F1 teams at the start of the new year, so the only information about potential contenders has come from applicants’ own announcements such as Hitech’s today.
Andretti’s Cadillac partnership is the highest-profile contender, and there were also bids from the Panthera Team Asia organisation and BAR F1 team co-founder Craig Pollock – whose Formula Equal concept proposed a 50/50 male/female split across all roles.
The decision on the new teams’ bids will come down to both F1 and the FIA, and it remains entirely possible that all will be rejected. Any that are successful for 2025 will have to pay the $200million anti-dilution fee that is in place under the current Concorde Agreement that runs until the end of that season, but existing teams have argued that this should be substantially raised in the next agreement.
There has been considerable resistance and scepticism over the possible addition of new teams from those currently in the paddock, with established teams adamant that any additions to the grid must bring sufficient added value to F1 overall.
HITECH’S STORY SO FAR
Up to now, Hitech’s F1 ambitions have mainly been mentioned in connection with the Mazepin family, which was a long-time partner. Hitech ran Nikita Mazepin for much of his junior career and was backed by his father Dmitry’s Uralkali company. An organisation called Uralkali Racing Limited was briefly registered at the same address as Hitech in early 2022 before being dissolved around the same time as Hitech set up its Global Holdings Ltd company.
The Hitech name has been a junior single-seater staple for two decades, albeit its current version is better-recognised as having re-started in 2015-16 – when it became ‘Hitech GP’, returned to the now-defunct European Formula 3 series and had former Red Bull junior Oliver Oakes (pictured below racing in Formula BMW UK in 2006) come on board.
Hitech’s highest-profile exploits are in F1’s leading support series FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 right now, and though titles haven’t followed yet, it has been a regular race winner in both.
It has also been notable for very consistently remaining a major partner of Red Bull’s F1 junior set-up. Indeed this year its F2 line-up comprises two Red Bull-backed rookies, and the sole Red Bull representative in F3 – Juan Pablo Montoya’s son Sebastian – also drives for Hitech (partnered by a Williams junior and an Alpine junior).
Outside of the Red Bull crop and Mazepin, even in its newer guise it has already fielded the likes of eventual Mercedes Formula 1 driver George Russell (pictured below representing Hitech at the Macau Grand Prix) and eventual IndyCar champion Alex Palou.
Hitech described new part-owner Kim’s business interests as primarily being “in the mining, banking and aviation sectors”, including copper mining in Kazakhstan, and said he had “for some time been looking to convert his personal interest in motorsport to a strategic partnership with a leading racing team operating on the global stage”. Kim’s sporting sponsorships so far have been focused on boxing and tennis.
CEO Oakes said he “found many natural synergies” with Kim and said “his support will be invaluable as we seek to build on Hitech’s success and work towards achieving its broader ambitions over the years to come”.
Kim called motorsport “a long-standing personal interest for me” and said he was “delighted to be entering into a partnership with an organisation that has enjoyed success in so many categories and has such ambitions for the future”.