Breaking: Windsor speaks on USF1’s failure

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The economic recession and disputes within Formula 1 killed USF1’s chance of making it to the grid this year, co-founder Peter Windsor says in his first interview on the subject.

Windsor spoke to the BBC. Here’s highlights:

“We had our backer, we knew what we were going to do, we felt we had everything in place,” said Windsor.

“We did miss the crash test by three weeks – and if we had had those three weeks we would have been racing now.”

[snip]

“We were confirmed as an entered team in July [2009] but that was when there were still two championships,” said Windsor, a reference to the then possibility of the teams launching their own rival world championship as a result of a seismic political battle in F1.

“The two championships only came together in September and that was when we effectively pressed go.

“At that moment, if we had gone to perhaps Lola, or a company like that who was building cars, I think we would have been OK.

“But the premise of our team, the foundation of our team, was a) to be a national team and b) to do our car in America.

“I think if we had a year we could have done it, but it was either the whole car or nothing at all.

“It was Ken Anderson’s call and he said it would kill our team if we didn’t build our own car. He would rather go down doing our own rather than race someone else’s. I didn’t agree with that.

“It was just a question of time – and most of the existing teams will be two thirds of the way through their 2011 cars already. We didn’t start a 2010 car until too late, in retrospect, but we didn’t know it at the time.”

So we have a little peek inside. Peter is distancing himself from the decisions that, in his opinion at least, led to USF1’s failure — the desire to do it all on their own and in America. Hindsight probably tells us that was a losing proposition, but that was the basis for things so, to an extent, I understand why Anderson wanted to press on with the program.

The story doesn’t dive too deeply (at this point) into any specific economic issues. Maybe broadly calling on the “recession” is enough explanation.

But I’m really interested in the “split” championships line of thinking. Did that really slow things up that much? If USF1 had just pressed ahead with an attitude of “we’re going to be in F1 whether Ferrari and McLaren are,” wouldn’t they have made the grid? Again, I can see how that might be a stumbling block, but if you are a brand-new team trying to get into the sport, don’t you just worry about getting into the sport and not whether the biggest and baddest teams will still be there?

Well, that’s what I see from a quick, first-blush look. Thoughts, folks?

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