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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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:
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.”
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.