South-East Asian-based outfit Lky Sunz have announced plans to join the Formula 1 grid by the 2026 season.
The FIA opened an expression of interest to new entries at the start of 2023 for those willing to join the F1 grid.
Several projects have announced their intent to enter, including Andretti-Cadillac to the Saudi-based Formula Equal.
Now Lky Sunz have thrown their hat into the ring, with the project being based in South-East Asia, and include many of the big players behind Panthera Team Asia, such as Benjamin Durand, CEO and co-founder of Lky Sunz.
Paul Fleming also follows over from Panthera and is the chairman of Lky Sunz, whilst Andrew Pyrah remains chief commercial officer as well as co-founder.
The project has also received backing from Tampa-based Legends Advocates Sports Group and will be assisted by Chris Miles, founder of Starting Grid. Inc and a Global Diversity & Inclusion Strategist at African Renaissance and Diaspora Network.
Lky Sunz also plans to build a net-zero green energy factory in South-East Asia by 2025-2026 and is looking to provide opportunities to underrepresented communities in motorsports.
Keen to entertain fans off track
Durand’s vision is to bring a team closer to its fans off track while challenging the current ten teams on it.
But there also remains a desire to tap into the Asian market, which has been overlooked in recent years by F1 in favour of increasing the sport’s popularity in America.
“We are excited to see our investors share our vision of fusing youth culture and racing to create a team that will disrupt Formula 1,’’ said Durand. “The sport’s popularity has grown exponentially, and every current stakeholder in the sport has been responsible for that.
‘‘By being the only team operating outside the traditional F1 corridors and developing bespoke programmes to attract talent from underrepresented communities, we can bring a diversity of thought yet to be seen in F1.
“We, of course, aim to be competitive on the track, but we also commit to entertaining fans off the track.
‘‘To support our plans, we have already onboarded an impressive team of motorsport executives, music and entertainment industry experts and creatives who will help bring this vision to life.”
2026 more likely entry date
Although there is no guarantee F1 will accept any of the projects, Lky Sunz is already planning ahead, commencing high-level talks with engine manufacturers.
Lky Sunz have confirmed to Total Motorsport.com the team will be temporarily based in Europe whilst its state-of-the-art base is built.
‘‘2025 is a possibility [but] we think 2026 is probably better,” said a source close to Lky Sunz to Total Motorsport.com. “It makes more sense with the new regulations.
“I should imagine the current teams would prefer a new team coming in with new regulations.
‘‘There is not much point building a team for 25 if they’re going to change it in 2026. We’re in deep discussions with a couple of territories, in the beginning, there has to be a European base while we’re building the factory.
‘‘We’re going to be partnering with a race car manufacturer in Europe whilst we finalise everything in South-East Asia.”