USF1: The case for

Posted on | Author Clive Allen

Danica Patrick has been linked to a USF1 drive
Danica Patrick has been linked to a USF1 drive

Guest writer Clive Allen responds to Peter Anderson’s case against against USF1’s F1 hopes for 2010.

It is very easy to list the difficulties confronting USF1 in their attempt to enter F1 in 2010. We are all aware of these and nothing Peter Anderson says in his article, USF1: The case against is anything new.

But, if we can think of such things, you can bet that Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor have too – and four years of preparing for the project must have included ideas for overcoming the problems. They are both experienced in F1, after all, (Ken in a couple of monumental failures – can you believe that he would happily set himself up for yet one more embarrassing episode?) and must have done their homework.

That is the first thing I think we have to be wary of when criticising the USF1 project – underestimating the team principals. They have the credentials not to be dismissed as fools and it is unwise to suggest that they have not done the maths when calculating travel expenses, for instance. You cannot tell me that these guys do not know what they are up against and, if they are aware of the problems, they must have some pretty valid answers. If they have not told us the full story during the official announcement, that is only circumspect; at the moment they are selling the concept and too much detail would allow others to steal their ideas ahead of time.

Pointing at Toyota’s decision to base their team in Cologne as being a major reason for the team’s poor results is clearly incorrect. Sauber do not seem to have had a problem in being based in Switzerland and became a respectable member of the F1 club in a very short amount of time. It is history that has located most of the teams in England and has nothing to do with logistics.

The point about the wealth of F1 experience existing in England has been answered by Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor; the theory is that Charlotte has just as much racing expertise and this can be adapted to cope with the demands of F1 design and construction. That may or may not be true – we will know the answer once the team get a car on to the track – but to dismiss it out of hand is assuming a lot.

Travel and transport are part and parcel of any F1 team’s existence. In any international sport it will be so and F1 does not avoid the issue by being centered in England. Indeed, with the prospects for the British GP looking very dubious, the teams based in England may well find themselves without a “home” race in the future. Ken Anderson’s assertion that most of the races are no longer in Europe is fact, not poppycock (count ’em), and to suggest that this somehow makes it impossible for a team to compete from a foreign base is a blinkered viewpoint indeed. Whether we like it or not, Europe will have fewer GPs in the future and the sport is becoming truly worldwide in venues as well as appeal.

As for parts being needed in a hurry, is that not the point of having a base in Europe (most likely Spain)? And, if having two bases is the point of the argument, it does not seem to have hurt BMW in dividing its operation between Germany and Switzerland.

The big question is money, not drivers. If the car is built, drivers will be found (Windsor has already admitted that the team will probably employ an experienced F1 driver, regardless of nationality, in its first couple of years). But the main factor on which the team’s existence will depend is funding – can they find enough to make the thing viable?

The plain fact is that we do not know at this stage, but certain things make it more likely that they will succeed in America rather than in Europe. Even existing teams are having a hard time putting together enough funding to continue – the chances of doing so for a new team are remote indeed. But USF1’s concept of finding funding from many different sources, most already involved in component manufacture and service to motor sport has a better chance of success.

Americans are patriotic in a way that is out of fashion in Europe; they will relish the chance to show that the good ol’ US of A can do it and do it better. They are not going to put money into a team based in Europe and having only flimsy connections with America, but USF1 is a different matter entirely. And it is exactly Windsor’s rhetoric that will appeal to them – Americans have a need to prove themselves on the international stage.

There is always more money floating around in the States than in Europe anyway. If it is difficult to raise sponsorship in the US, you can guarantee that it will be nigh on impossible in Europe. I say give Ken and Peter a break – they will either raise the money or fail and we do not help by pointing out the obvious problems in starting an F1 team from scratch. What else is new, after all?

That is really the strongest argument against buying the Honda F1 team too. Messrs Anderson and Windsor could certainly forget any chance of gaining American money if they had taken that route. Remember that they have been working on the concept of USF1 for years – the idea of buying an existing team must have been thrown out long ago.

The intent is to have a truly American team in the same vein as Dan Gurney’s Eagle team so long ago. At a time when North America has been excluded from the F1 scene completely and the grid is threatened by yet more team withdrawals, USF1 gives much-needed hope from an unexpected quarter. If you think it cannot succeed in at least putting a car on the grid, you don’t know Americans.

Engines I don’t see as being a major problem. My money is on BMW supplying them but Mosley’s Cosworth lump is as good a solution as any other. They’re supposed to be going cheap next year, too…

Windsor and Anderson may not have their trousers on yet but Martin Whitmarsh seems to think they will be pretty well dressed by the time 2010 rolls around. They won’t win any races in that first year but they never said they would. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

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