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.
?σΤιΌ?τWe haven?σΤιΌΤδσt made any decision on drivers yet?σΤιΌ?Ψ Windsor said of the question. ?σΤιΌ?τYour guess is as good as mine.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
?σΤιΌ?τThere?σΤιΌΤδσs a list of American drivers out there with the credentials to race in Formula 1 – they?σΤιΌΤδσve proven they?σΤιΌΤδσve got the talent, it?σΤιΌΤδσs a question of finding the two most compatible drivers for what we?σΤιΌΤδσre out to achieve in year one, and probably year two?σΤιΌ?Ψ Windsor added.
When asked if he would like to see his grandson Marco make an appearance in F1, Andretti was quick to agree
?σΤιΌ?τI would just love that – it would rejuvenate me?σΤιΌ?Ψ the racing legend added. ?σΤιΌ?τMarco just wants results to speak for themselves, and then go from there.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
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.
?σΤιΌ?τAs of next year, less than half the races will be on the (European) continent, so there is less reason for being there?σΤιΌ?Ψ Anderson said of the team?σΤιΌΤδσs decision to be based in Charlotte. ?σΤιΌ?τThe cost of doing business in the United States is significantly cheaper than in Europe, and there are a lot of good people here?σΤιΌ?Ψ
?σΤιΌ?τIf 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?σΤιΌ?Ψ 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 ?σΤιΌ?τposter child for how to start a Formula 1 team?σΤιΌ?Ψ according to Windsor.
?σΤιΌ?τTo some extent, the recession has helped us a bit?σΤιΌ?Ψ Windsor said of his team?σΤιΌΤδσs approach to making the budget aspects work. ?σΤιΌ?τFor those out there that say where?σΤιΌΤδσs all the money… the big facility… the money falling out of the sky – that?σΤιΌΤδσs not going to happen with USF1. We?σΤιΌΤδσve always had a very different approach, and that approach will become visible as time goes on.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
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.
?σΤιΌ?τWe?σΤιΌΤδσre looking at over 100 people, highly skilled and highly paid people?σΤιΌ?Ψ Anderson said in regards to staff size. ?σΤιΌ?τThere?σΤιΌΤδσs so much that goes into that, such as if you?σΤιΌΤδσre building your own engine. McLaren, for example, does a lot of other things besides racing.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
?σΤιΌ?τThe opportunities for young Americans with our team is endless.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
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?σΤιΌΤδσs mission to take America to F1, and not the other way around
?σΤιΌ?τWe?σΤιΌΤδσve never seen that as a problem?σΤιΌ?Ψ Windsor said of the current lack of a home race. ?σΤιΌ?ΨWe?σΤιΌΤδσre 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.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
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?σΤιΌΤδσs proximity to the SPEED studios, USF1 will also have it?σΤιΌΤδσs 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.
?σΤιΌ?τJust in the year and a half that I have been in Charlotte, I?σΤιΌΤδσve seen what a great job the NASCAR teams do with the fans. We?σΤιΌΤδσre in the entertainment business-we?σΤιΌΤδσve been reminding one another of that here since day one?σΤιΌ?Ψ Windsor said. ?σΤιΌ?τWe 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.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
?σΤιΌ?τFans are going to be welcomed to come to our headquarters- they?σΤιΌΤδσll be a tour that they can do to see a Formula 1 car being built for the first time.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
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.
?σΤιΌ?τ[Bernie Ecclestone] was his usual specific self… he told me ?σΤιΌ?£good-get it done?σΤιΌΤδσ?σΤιΌ?Ψ Windsor said with a laugh. ?σΤιΌ?τWe?σΤιΌΤδσve kept him in touch ever since, and he?σΤιΌΤδσs been very supportive. Anything we need, he tries to get us.
?σΤιΌ?τWe are working very closely with the FIA in every aspect- keeping them informed about how we develop the team.?σΤιΌ?Ψ
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.