USF1 to be ‘poster child’ team (updated)

USF1 logo

F1 Fanatic guest writer Gerard Hetman kept an eye on the USF1 announcement on Speed TV and sent in this report.

Tuesday saw the dawn of a new era in Formula 1 team management and ownership with the launch of the USF1 racing team. Co-founded by longtime F1 stalwarts Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor, the venture was officially unveiled to the world earlier today with a press conference at the Charlotte-based headquarters of SPEED Network, the holder of F1 television rights in the United States.

Hosted by SPEED F1 commentator Bob Varsha, the show would see Anderson and Windsor state that their team would be running and operation for the 2010 F1 season, with the squad being based in Charlotte as previously speculated.

Also included in the launch was commentary from two Americans with past history in F1- 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti, and multiple F1 race winner and Le Mans 24 hours champion Dan Gurney. Andretti phoned in live from his home in Pennsylvania, while Gurney appeared via a taped statement.

Sorting the details

After a brief video segment highlighting previous involvement in Formula 1, questions were taken from the international media contingent assembled. While only a few questions were answered before the public broadcast segment ended, a few key questions were put to Anderson and Windsor by a number of journalist from across America and around the world.

Drivers

Speaking for the duo, Windsor did not confirm any driver in any capacity for involvement with USF1. However, he did speak enthusiastically about a young and developing generation of American drivers that includes Alexander Rossi, Connor Daly, and Josef Newgarden. Speaking to a more developed range of drivers, he referenced former F3 Euroseries and A1GP driver Jonathan Summerton, as well as names currently racing in U.S.-based motor sports, including, yes, Scott Speed and Danica Patrick, as well as NASCAR driver Kyle Busch.

??We haven?t made any decision on drivers yet?? Windsor said of the question. ??Your guess is as good as mine.??

??There?s a list of American drivers out there with the credentials to race in Formula 1 – they?ve proven they?ve got the talent, it?s a question of finding the two most compatible drivers for what we?re out to achieve in year one, and probably year two?? Windsor added.

When asked if he would like to see his grandson Marco make an appearance in F1, Andretti was quick to agree

??I would just love that – it would rejuvenate me?? the racing legend added. ??Marco just wants results to speak for themselves, and then go from there.??

Logistics

When asked about the challenges involved in basing a Formula 1 team away from traditional areas in Europe, Anderson was quick to point out some aspects he sees as advantages rather than obstacles.

??As of next year, less than half the races will be on the (European) continent, so there is less reason for being there?? Anderson said of the team?s decision to be based in Charlotte. ??The cost of doing business in the United States is significantly cheaper than in Europe, and there are a lot of good people here??

??If you take a race like the Spanish Grand Prix or Monaco Grand Prix, with the logistics we have, our cars will be back in Charlotte sooner than most of the British-based teams will have their trucks back at their factories in England?? Windsor added.

Finances

While no sponsors or particular backers were named, Windsor and Anderson said they have the capital in hand to launch their project, and their business model has been endorsed by many in the sport as the ??poster child for how to start a Formula 1 team?? according to Windsor.

??To some extent, the recession has helped us a bit?? Windsor said of his team?s approach to making the budget aspects work. ??For those out there that say where?s all the money… the big facility… the money falling out of the sky – that?s not going to happen with USF1. We?ve always had a very different approach, and that approach will become visible as time goes on.??

Engines

When asked about a potential engine supplier, Windsor confirmed that no deal had yet been reached, but quotes would soon be requested by USF1 from all engine manufacturers currently involved in Formula 1.

Staff

With several local reporters included in the media contingent, Anderson pointed out that the wealth of motor sport infrastructure and personnel in the area would make it quite realistic to start an operation such as USF1.

??We?re looking at over 100 people, highly skilled and highly paid people?? Anderson said in regards to staff size. ??There?s so much that goes into that, such as if you?re building your own engine. McLaren, for example, does a lot of other things besides racing.??

??The opportunities for young Americans with our team is endless.??

U.S. Grand Prix

While niether Anderson nor Windsor made a dedicated plea for the return of the U.S. or Canadian Grand Prix, Windsor made a point of the team?s mission to take America to F1, and not the other way around

??We?ve never seen that as a problem?? Windsor said of the current lack of a home race. ??We?re aiming to take America to F1, in the footsteps of Mario and Dan, and hopefully a return of the U.S. Grand Prix will be a by-product of that. Nothing would be better for us or for American motorsports.??

Update: the rest of Gerard’s report:

Fan Access

Perhaps the most surprising and trend-setting (if it happens) note about USF1 is the involvement with fans and supporters it plans to offer. Windsor said while the station plans to make very good use of it?s proximity to the SPEED studios, USF1 will also have it?s own TV and media operation located in their facility. In addition, Windsor claimed that tours of the USF1 factory would be offered to the general public, with fans being given a previously-unprecedented level of access to the normally closed-door world of Formula 1.

??Just in the year and a half that I have been in Charlotte, I?ve seen what a great job the NASCAR teams do with the fans. We?re in the entertainment business-we?ve been reminding one another of that here since day one?? Windsor said. ??We want this to be a TV-led Formula 1 team, and we will achieve that by not just being close to SPEED, but also by having our own TV operation at our headquarters.??

??Fans are going to be welcomed to come to our headquarters- they?ll be a tour that they can do to see a Formula 1 car being built for the first time.??

Bernie and Max

When asked about the support USF1 has received from Bernie Ecclestone and FIA President Max Mosley, Windsor claimed he first told Ecclestone about the concept at the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, and that the FOM boss has been supportive of the project ever since then.

??[Bernie Ecclestone] was his usual specific self… he told me ??good-get it done??? Windsor said with a laugh. ??We?ve kept him in touch ever since, and he?s been very supportive. Anything we need, he tries to get us.

??We are working very closely with the FIA in every aspect- keeping them informed about how we develop the team.??

Other details

While passing mention was given to a secondary base of operations in Europe for the team, no specific location or agreement was mentioned by either Anderson or Windsor. Windsor also made it clear that Anderson would function in the role of team principle, with Windsor taking up the role of sporting director for the outfit.

No other dates, timetables, or deadlines were announced regarding USF1 before the end of the televised segment of the press conference, which ran approximately 45 minutes in length.

This is a guest article by Gerard Hetman. If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information you need here.

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75 comments on USF1 to be ‘poster child’ team (updated)

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  1. This is really exciting. It doesn’t sound like pie-in-the-sky dreaming; it sounds like they are working toward getting this off the ground the right way. I can’t wait to see what news comes next. It certainly seems a stark contrast to the endless litany of stories coming from the Honda camp, each one more desperate than the last; none coming to fruition.

  2. KingHamilton said on 24th February 2009, 19:43

    nicely put Marc! I do have my reservations as to how this could end up as a monumentul muck-up, but I think this can work aswell. If they dont rush and get some people who know what they’re doing they can create a good racing team. which F1 desperatly needs another one of.

  3. donwatters said on 24th February 2009, 19:47

    I have to admit I’m a bit skekptical about the long-term viability of this effort. It’s one thing to do get up and running for a year or two…quite something else to keep it going. That said, I wish them all the luck in the world. Done properly, this will be a tremendous addition to the sport.

  4. YeaMon said on 24th February 2009, 19:52

    Nice to see Varsha is involved.

  5. Its true there are a thousand ways they could fall short, but if they have reasonable goals and realistic expectations about when those can be achieved, I imagine they will be well supported. Look at BMW. They have been very reasonable in their goals, and they have done very well in achieving them.

  6. Patrick said on 24th February 2009, 19:58

    Never…..going….to…..happen…..

  7. Wow, what to believe on such skimpy information. No headquarters, no sponsorship to announce, no alliances with any fabricators, just a grand statement that we can do this smarter and cheaper than anyone else in the world.

    They’ve got brass, I’ll say that much, and I used to believe in Santa and the tooth fairy, but I’m a bit long in the tooth for that now.

    Please show me the money before I sell my soul on this dream. And trust me when I say I dearly want to believe!

    • I know they are shopping for the building at the moment, Anderson referenced it multiple times on the stage today. I was also a bit disappointed that there were no other announcements today, but perhaps they want to release those things on a gradual basis, creates more of a long-lasting impact that way.

  8. Victor,USA said on 24th February 2009, 20:04

    At a F1 race in 2010 the US National Anthem will be played

  9. Just noticed the timer counting down to thier launch on thier website has gone back to 50 minutes remaining when the last time i checked it was only a few minutes to go! wierd!

  10. This is nice … it’s always nice to hear and see a new team on the Grid. Can’t wait for 2010 for this. One of the best thing about this USF1 team is that they are going to build a team from scratch and not really buy a already structured F1 team. It’s nice to see new team with new way of thinking in F1.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th February 2009, 20:16

    Very interesting stuff, thanks to Gerard for watching and writing this up for us.

    It’s clear that at this stage hard details are thin on the ground. I’m not sure about his case for building the team in America just because only half of the races are in Europe now – it’s not as if there are suddenly lots of races in North America, in fact, there are none.

    Their comments on money explain why they’ve not shown an interest in taking over Honda – it would be too expensive to run the team this year (never mind that without an American base it would probably be harder to attract sponsors).

    It all comes back to the same situation we had with Prodrive. If the FIA can deliver on its promise to bring in these new regulations for 2010 then USF1’s business model can work. But as Prodrive discovered, there is some risk in relying on the FIA to do what it says it’s going to do…

    • I’ve read in a Spanish newspaper that Joan Villadeprat (CEO of Epsilon Euskadi automotive centre) has offered USF1 to rent a portion of their brand new facilites in Vitoria (Near to Bilbao in the north of Spain) for building a base in Europe for USF1.

      As in Spain there are 2 F1 GP and most of the test during pre-season, it sounds reasonable.

      On the other hand, USF1 as a brand, with a team based in Spain and using motors of some european manufacturer… it doesn’t sound quite a lot reasonable.

  12. Scootin159 said on 24th February 2009, 20:38

    I’m excited to see this move forward, but I hope this doesn’t mean Speed will be without Windsor for the 2009 season.

    • I believe he will be there for 2009, as he said he was quite excited for Oz already. After that, however, I have no idea. I do know that SPEED’s contract with F1 is up at the end of the year, so perhaps he’s jumping ship at the right time.

  13. Fernando said on 24th February 2009, 21:13

    Yeah I hope Windsor is not gone in 2009 because I have little hope that they could get a replacement that is as knowledgeable as he is. His insight in the races makes watching the races more enjoyable.

  14. Fernando said on 24th February 2009, 21:14

    The site is actually up now too BTW.

  15. El Dinko said on 24th February 2009, 21:31

    I’m all for a new F1 team, but I’d much rather it wasn’t an American team being run by Peter Windsor. For anyone with the 2008 season review on DVD, go and watch the bit before the German GP, where Lewis Hamilton gets asked the most ridiculously complicated question you’ll ever here. It’ll give you an idea of what a wally Peter Windsor is.

    And if anyone happens to a January 2008 issue of F1 Racing, check out an article written by Windsor on ‘national teams’ on pg 21. He didn’t seem too keen on them back then…

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