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. Jay Menon said on 25th February 2009, 4:35

    If USF1 does work, I think they wouldn’t have much problem getting an engine deal. With the like of BMW ready to offer their services to boost their North American image, it could be rather interesting.

    But what about the US auto makers? I know they’re waddling in sh*t right now, but getting involved in F1, could be seen as a consumer confidence boost. Ford knows all about working in F1, GM and Chrysler have good racing pedigree with NASCAR, so it could be a possibility. Also, Windsor and Anderson are pretty hard up on selling the Made In USA tag.

    On the issue of Sponsor, I believe this could come by without much work. Many American companies have ignored F1 because it doesn’t have much of a following there,plus the fees are way to high. I was speaking to on of my former VPs a couple years ago, who worked a deal with NASCAR to sponsor car 46. It displays Texas Instrument’s DLP livery. When asked why they didn’t approach F1, his answer was, “NASCAR cost 30 mil while F1 was asking for 120 mil”. He went on to point out the disparity in audience between the two sports from an American perspective as well.

    USF1 may seem like an attractive vehicle for car manufacturers and sponsors alike

    • Very neat perspective- it seems you have some good experience in the corporate world of motor sports!

      You are right about the sponsorship, but as for US-backed engines, Windsor pretty much ruled it out in a preview show on Sunday evening on SPEED. Perhaps it may be branded differently- a Renault unit badged as a Nissan, for example- but I still think it’s coming from outside the U.S.

  2. F1Yankee said on 25th February 2009, 4:55

    http://formula-one.speedtv.com/article/f1-usf1-press-conference-video-highlights/

    f1fan, motor racing is a 6 billion dollar industry for a 50 mile radius of usf1′s shop. their wind tunnel and shaker rigs are the best in the world. any decent f1 team has a satellite link from the pits to their supercomputer calculating the answer to life, the universe, and everything, in real time – with hardware and software made in america. the standard issue electronics were developed by mclaren and microsoft. carbon industries supplies half of the brakes on the grid. as for logistics, windsor claims his cars will be back at the shop before other teams make it back to england. he also points out there are fewer european races, so it’s even less relevant.

    • F1Fan said on 26th February 2009, 4:48

      If all this technology is US-made, how come there hasn’t been a single US-based team taking advantage of it ?

      And as far as Europe not being so relevant, how relevant is the US w/ its grand total of zero (0) GPs on the calendar ?

  3. Well, I was hoping for some big name sponsors or investors announced. But nothing.

    Windsor did say in his blog on the USF1 website who one of his investors is: Rich Silverstein of Goodby, Silverstein and Partners. Whom I’ve never heard of.

  4. theRoswellite said on 25th February 2009, 5:52

    An American F1 team?………….be still my beating heart.

    I’ll give you dollars-to-doughnuts that Mr. Gurney could provide us all with some pretty unspun info regarding the actual chances of this child reaching a third birthday (or possible still-birth), if you could only get a totally candid comment.

    And, as Deep Throat reminded us, if you want to find the truth….”follow the money”. If these guys aren’t sitting on a big pile of it, they better know someone who is.

    I think Rick, Gman, and Martin have this right….the BMW connection would be a marriage made on Madison Avenue, if not in heaven.

    Actually, my trifecta money is on…BMW, the Internet, and Speed Channel, and if they could get anyone calling the online shots that was half as capable as Keith, they would certainly make a good show of it, at the least.

    How much would I pay to get an online site, with live streaming, 24/7, all the GPs on line, and other assorted privileges as part of a team sponsorship package?

    That is a scary one for my wife to think about.

  5. Jay Menon said on 25th February 2009, 5:58

    Gman,

    Maybe the US makers aren’t interested after all, may they’re too far underwater to even consider an approach to improve their image.

    I like your Nissan idea. Carlos Ghosn might go for that, since it brings Nissan into F1 as well, thus increasing the company’s overall value. Nissan has a reasonable presence in the US, and this scenario might go a long way in marketing the like of the GTR there.

    But personally, I feel that the external supply will come from BMW, since Mario Thijssen has expressed interest in improving their presence in the US.

    Did some research, found that in 60 years, only 2 US based teams have managed wins, Ford and Offenhauser. Ford is only second to Ferrari in race wins!

    • Indeed, Nissan dose have a very good presence in the U.S.- I drive one myself :) Honestly, I have seen the brad expand tremendously here in the last 10-12 years or so, going from mostly imported compacts to a full line of American-sized products like pickup trucks, many of which are made right here in the states.

      I am sure the Detroit firms would like to be in F1, but I agree that they are essentially in survival mode at the moment. Even with those companies having motor racing divisions, an F1 engine program is going to be seen as unneeded expense, and I don’t think that’s going to do it. The only possible way I could see it would be for a foreign firm currently in F1 buying a U.S. brand and running it’s current engines under that brand.

  6. Jay Menon said on 25th February 2009, 5:59

    In teams, I meant to say constructors!

  7. Brakius said on 25th February 2009, 6:38

    Sunday night Windsor did also say with they MIGHT have to go with someone with more experience NOT from America for the 1st year just to help get things going in the right direction.

    It sounds to me like they would like to have 2 drivers from America, but will settle for one. I’m sure a lot of that depends on who is willing to come drive and what experience they are bringing to the table.

    For two guys that have been in F1 and other forms of auto racing for 35+ years, I’m sure they’ve seen enough on what to do and what not to do as a business. Their greatest challenge will be bringing a competitive car in a short time span. The resources are available, just need the right pieces, like drivers/engines.

    Only time will tell, Good Luck and Godspeed.

    • I saw that same interview and like the concept, but Windsor diden’t bring it up again today during the press conference. Still, it’s a smart way to bring the team to the grid.

      Anthony Davidson, phone call for you…….

  8. Martin Bell said on 25th February 2009, 8:36

    Marketing………brand awareness………nissan…….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Don’t any of you care about whether the car will be any good, or if it will win any races? Can I propose a new thread for 25/2/2014- “USF1, Where did it all go wrong?”

  9. ajokay said on 25th February 2009, 9:38

    Gman,

    Are you USF1′s inside personal blogging spokesperson? If not, then they should hire you! :)

    I wish your nation all the luck with their new F1 team. I’d dearly love to see an F1 grid packed out with 30 cars again, I really would.

  10. Sign me up for that factory tour, I’m already building that into my holiday schedule for 2012 !

    I dearly hope this team will come to fruitition. But lets just say I’m not betting the house on it, not yet anyway. Like Keith says, Dave Richards thought he’d be in F1 in 12 months time too….

  11. just got rid of honda dreams and now this…
    two guys on a stage doesn’t make an f1 team
    is peter windso american?

  12. WidowFactory said on 25th February 2009, 10:42

    Great news, Force India were feeling lonely at the back!

  13. Scott Joslin said on 25th February 2009, 14:59

    Not wanting to sound negative – having just read the following article this morning http://www.sidepodcast.com/2009/02/25/when-did-you-lose-interest/

    I doubt this would be a serious attempt at a F1 team.

    Yes Windsor has previous experience running a F1 team, and I am sure he is not totally delluded, but they really have nothing solid in place to wow American investers in to backing the team. The way they paint the picture would that they would really struggle to break out of the back of the grid. – Yes they have the Wind Tunnel, and yes there is alot of expertese in the that part of the world, but they seem to be trying to adopt the Williams team model of going Grand Prix racing with the whole “Skunk Works” approach, however that team is stuggling for performance and sponsors despite all the experience within the team. USF1 has already ruled out partnering with a big Manufacture and having a big sugar daddy to fund the team – what they are basically saying is very underwhelming and would attrack very little sponsors to fund the programe.

    Also, lets say they do make the grid in 2010, with there policey of two american drivers, both would be extremely inexperienced and who knows if they are up to scratch, they are going to suffer poor results because of this. They won’t be able to go for a proven experienced F1 driver with an non american nationality which might add value to the team. This smacks a bit like the Red Bull driver programe which when it comes to the crunch has decided that the gimmick doesn’t bring results and the end of the day and ditches their drivers for proper talent.

    But, I am sure there will be plenty more meetings at “Starbucks” as Windsor puts in between now 2010 which could prove me wrong.

  14. Chalky said on 25th February 2009, 15:57

    The drivers are not confirmed. On one of Keiths links to the Racing Eagles blog, http://thegridwalk.typepad.com/racing_eagles/ Peter Windsor stated that it would not necessarily be 2 American drivers. If they deemed that they needed 1 experienced driver for 1 season to get the team established.

    It would not make business sense to rule out quality drivers when competing in F1.

    • Brakius said on 25th February 2009, 17:59

      Frank Williams’ loss was Peter Sauber’s gain.

      Anything can happen.

      I’m not saying this is the best thing since sliced bread, but I sure am glad to see people are still interested in joining F1. Will it succeed? Will it fail? Who are we to pass any judgment at this point in the game. There has simply been an announcement that a new F1 team is forming and it is simply being called a bust before anyone knows all of the details. Maybe we should just let Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, BMW, and Toyota field the grid.

      It seems Bernie might actually be realizing the decline of the sport and has to get more teams involved with a different business model. For me it’s not so much about USF1 winning races or being on the podium. It’s about letting new unknown drivers enter the fray to become recognized. Alonso, Massa, Raikkonen, and Vettel all come to mind in recent years. Great drivers simply need a place to start out, and if USF1 is another backmarker/stepping-stone for drivers to get a crack at a better ride then I’m all for it.

      One other thing to note. The best racing does not always happen at the front. I’ve seen several times better racing in the back, where cars are more comparable, then the procession of cars at the front. Yes it is more exciting to see a pass for the lead, but I just like to see good, competitive auto racing.

  15. Uppili said on 25th February 2009, 21:30

    http://usf1.com/news/peters-blog-entry-for-feb-21

    This blog entry by Peter Windsor on their website says more about the finance, investors who are on board and about engineers who are likely to be involved than yesterday’s launch press conference.

    Interesting, to note that Peter Windsor says their budget targets have been exceeded…..

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