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A new Formula One team, Midland, plans to join the grid for the 2006 season... 09 Oct 2004

Midland Group co-founder and chairman Alex Shnaider.

Behind the venture, announced over the Suzuka weekend, is the Midland Group, a privately-owned international trading and investment-holding organization registered in Guernsey but most active in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

“We are in the middle of a selection process for the crew,” revealed Midland co-founder and chairman Alex Shnaider, 36. “The car will be built in partnership with Dallara in Italy and the team’s headquarters will be on the outskirts of London.”

On the question of engine supply, he stated: “We are holding talks with the usual suspects, but there is nothing to announce yet. But by January-February we should be able to reveal everything.”

And as to who will sit in the Midland F1 cockpits, Shnaider commented: “As I said, we are in the middle of the selection process but it is very likely that Formula One will see its first Russian rookie in the near future.”

On the reasons for the Midland Group’s participation in Formula One racing, he said: “For a global-acting business conglomerate, the search for a global platform is mutual and Formula One is the perfect fit: it’s global, it’s competitive, it’s tactical and it’s high tech. I am surprised that no one has realized that having a Formula One team is like getting an NBA or NHL franchise for free, as it is one of the world’s most popular sports. The opportunity to create value is immense and it stuns me that there are not more companies that have identified this opportunity just as we have.”

Shnaider is clearly intent on winning and has no interest in the Olympic ideal of simply participating. “Everybody wants to win. Midland F1 will be no exception to that. But first we have to do our homework: put a team together – the right people, a competitive car. Then we can start thinking about winning. But I can assure you winning will be on our agenda.”

And while the entrepreneur will take control of the initial stages of the venture, he evidently has no ambitions to run the team himself in the long term. “Within Midland Group the Formula One project is my line of action and I will co-ordinate the build-up. Once the team is established I will delegate the day-to-day-business to a team manager.”

Finally, regarding the investment needed for a successful Grand Prix team, Shnaider is reassuringly unconcerned. “We understand that basic survival in Formula One requires a budget of around US$ 100 million per annum, and we are prepared for that,” he said.