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)

  1. Steven Roy said on 24th February 2009, 21:45

    Having sat and watched the whole thing apart from about 50% lost to buffering it seems quite clear that this was just a puff piece to try and generate some interest at home.

    Any casual viewer would believe that the whole operation will be in Charlotte when we all know Epsilon Euskadi will be doing a lot.

    I never had Windsor as an old hippy but all the bull about the thing just growing organically and beautifully while they have TV cameras everywhere is hardly going to have Ferrari or McLaren worried. If they don’t want to be 3 seconds off the back of the grid they better have a fully worked out plan now or they are going to look really stupid.

    I thought it was interesting how many time McLaren were mentioned. In recent weeks my personal conspiracy theory has been that Steve Nichols did notleave McLaren to do NASCAR he lfet to join this team. I expect that they will use Mercedes engines and as the interview host pointed out they are not restricted in the testing they do as they have not entered the championship. What better place for Paul di Resta to get a few thousand miles of uncontrolled testing in a year old McLaren?

    I hope Vctor is right and the US GP returns in 2010. That is the only way that national anthem will be played. Anyone who thinks they are going to turn up and win doesn’t understand the game. I hope they don’t raise the expectations of the American fans too high and disappoint them.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th February 2009, 21:49

      In recent weeks my personal conspiracy theory has been that Steve Nichols did notleave McLaren to do NASCAR he lfet to join this team.

      You could be on to something there…

    • Scott Joslin said on 25th February 2009, 14:44

      Do we mean Steve Hallam? Nichols although american left Mclaren in 1989 to join Ferrari I think.

  2. Rick DeNatale said on 24th February 2009, 21:48

    I managed to miss the first 20 minutes or so.

    This is quite exciting, I’ve been an American F1 fan since the days of Lauda, Fittipaldi, Andretti, and Hunt.

    I also wonder whether or not we’ll be seeing Peter Windsor in his normal role on Speed this season.

    Finally, the fact that they are talking to all of the engine manufacturers, made me wonder if BMW might be a good fit since the BMW plant in Greer, SC is not far down I-85 from Charlotte. Of course that would be more for marketing than for technical reasons.

    • You’re on the track I believe they will take with BMW, as I can see them putting a support package together with USF1 in the same manner that McLaren is now doing with Force India. Don’t forget that Dr. Mario is one of the biggest proponents of a strong F1 presence in North America, and BMW dosen’t have any existing engine deal with a team on the grid.

  3. Martin Bell said on 24th February 2009, 22:14

    @marc, “look at BMW”, BMW bought a reasonably succesful team and built on it steadily. This USF1 ‘team’ seems to be starting from scratch, and at the moment, consists of…………what exactly? Lots of talk and a website. I could do that. All we need now is a statement that they “will win their first race.” Beyond marketing reasons, has anything from recent years shown a real desire for a US F1 team (or Grand Prix)? It’s only the manufacturers who really want it to happen, and how many of them will still be in F1 in a couple of years time?

    • So, maybe that’s a good thing to be starting from scrath. Honda took over a reasonably successful team as well, and look where they are at for the moment…..

  4. ajokay said on 24th February 2009, 22:14

    Sounds as if this is either going to come to fruition, or be embaressingly embaressing, like the brightly coloured Mastercard Lola team as seen in qualifying sessions such as Australia 1997.

    Another chapter for the ‘Unraced…’ book? I hope not.

  5. While this is in the very earily stages it is somthing us American F1 Fans would love.

  6. I’ve no doubt that they’re serious. Was there any discussion about customer chassis? I wouldn’t mind betting that they’re banking on them being allowed by then. Otherwise, they’d better get cracking now to build their 2010 car, and that means an engine deal sooner rather than later. Otherwise, I think it’s more than fluff, and while I find Windsor sometimes tedious as a journo, he’s certainly no dummy. This will happen, but don’t expect miracles.

  7. Interesting developments. I’ll be watching with interest…

  8. Steven Roy said on 24th February 2009, 23:08

    Martin Bell says that USF1 only consists of talk and a website. I am not one to put a damper on things but their site has crashed.

  9. zerogee said on 24th February 2009, 23:37

    Stunt. Sorry. It’s too good to be true.

    I would love to be proved wrong but this has train wreck written all over it.

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th February 2009, 23:40

    I think we have more chance of seeing USF1 on the grid in 2010 than Honda in 2009.

    • Journeyer said on 25th February 2009, 2:20

      I’d disagree. Honda’s car is already there, and the MBO is already well on its way. USF1 right now has something in the region of… nothing.

  11. Steve K said on 25th February 2009, 0:05

    While it sounds to me to be a bit far fetched at this time, perhaps they know more about F1 in 2010 then anyone else besides the people making the rules do. 64 million isnt anything unless that happens to be the “salary cap” put on the teams. If that is the case, the team would have a chance to win right away. USF1-Get Kyle Busch!

    • I would really like to see that, and Kyle coyuld always go back and race in NASCAR into old age, as Mark Martin is doing now. However, I think he would want at least one Sprint Cup Championship before he would ever bolt.

      On the flipside, any NASCAR driver working for this outfit won’t need to move, so no Michael Andretti situation this time :)

  12. Arthur954 said on 25th February 2009, 0:21

    I would LOVE to see this work, but let´s see ….
    I still think they need one of the two drivers to have experience in F1, at least the first season.
    I don´t know if Danika Patrick would do well in F1, but if you look her up in Google Images, she sure has the goods and is proud to show you. She can call me anytime to have dinner and discuss a sponsorship deal

  13. F1Fan said on 25th February 2009, 1:26

    Keith,

    Ken Anderson of USF1 made the following statement today: “Most of the technology in F1 comes from the US to begin with …”. I have a hard time believing this. What’s your take ?

    I am sure that certain components come from the US, not sure about engines, but overall I always thought most of the really significant cutting-edge technology came from the research facilities of teams like Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and BMW. And this does not only apply to electronics obviously, but also chassis/aerodynamics, and even logistics.

    What do you think ?

    Glad to be back on this board – can’t wait for Australia.

  14. They need to generate the PR and make it look as solid as possible so they can start negotiating deals and taking on sponsors.

    They seem determined and have the skills to get the job done, so I think it will work. there’s boatloads of marketing money in America that’s untapped.

    Big sporting brands, drink brands, food brands etc etc

    Personally i think america is a larger market – brand wise – than Europe, and any company advertising in F1 – wants that global marketing, thats why they are in F1, and any company doing that scale of global marketing is also marketing in America, so I don’t see how existing sponsors would not also benefit and want it to happen.

    F1 should have a race in Canada, and 2 in America, east and west coast, then go down to Brazil.

    • Perhaps one of the best statements (among many fantastic ones) that I have seen on this site in the year or so i’ve been coming on here. Well said Todd!!

  15. anirudh said on 25th February 2009, 4:30

    I’ll tell you, its not gonna workout that good. Especially ‘bonding with fans’ part.

    • Perhaps, but do the current teams really gain that much by having the factory closed to the public and more top secret than many military bases around the world? I think these are some good, fresh ideas- if people from around the world come to visit the steam locomotive museum in my city, just imagine how many will come to Charlotte for a USF1 tour. It may even convince the big boys currently in the sport to be more open to fans…..

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