FIA’s Craw: FIA will try to work with USF1

Speed TV ran a story today suggesting that USF1 is still plugging along with the goal of racing. It seems that on-air F1 commentator Bob Varsha, who we’ve interviewed a few times here at F1B, had a conversation with the chairman of the American delegation to the FIA and President of the FIA Senate, Nick Craw.

FIA USF1 craw

According to Craw, USF1 merely asked for clarification of the missed-races rule as the current Concorde agreement, the governing document of F1, conflicts with the rules of the FIA regarding teams missing races. As was discussed here, the notion is that FIA president Jean Todt and commercial rights boss Bernie Ecclestone both say a team can miss three races with the FIA quickly clarifying that they will be punished for missing any races.

Apparently, according the the Speed TV report, USF1 is busy working on several possible solutions including:

• Acquiring an available car, such as the Dallara chassis built for the financially troubled Campos Meta team in Spain;

• Merging with another team;

• Pressing on with their own car and accepting penalties for missing races;

• As a last resort, withdrawing their entry and reapplying next year.

The first two seem unlikely as Campos was acquired by Jose Ramon Carabante and it is suggested that he has acquired the elusive and sought-after Dallara chassis rights.

The second seems odd as I am unsure of what USF1 could bring to the merger table other than a few assets and a lot of debt including long-term lease expenses, equipment leases and overhead. There is the 2010 grid slot or official entry that could be part of the deal but no one is quite sure what that is worth as each day makes it more irrelevant to anyone but Serbian Millionaire and team owner Zoran Stefanovic.

Perhaps Stefan GP may acquire or purchase the entry but the question remains, who has the rights to sell it and does the money go to USF1 investor Chad Hurley for his investment/debt? I have suggested that waiting longer is a game of chicken with Ecclestone as he knows Stefanovic has spent a lot of money building a team without an entry but the Serbian must assume that Ecclestone really wants four new teams on the grid in three weeks time. Who blinks first?

The third option mentioned doesn’t make a lot of sense without investors, sponsors or cash. How are they to hobble along with their own car with no money? The money issue seems granular to the whole USF1 debacle and it would stand to reason that the lack of cash is the very thing that would prevent them from struggling onward.

The last option seems the most likely as Ecclestone and Stefanovic will not want to pay for something they can just wait and get. The only danger is using the FIA rules for missing races or any other draconian way of ushering USF1’s death to a quicker resolution to get a free entry in 2010. A precedent will have been set and Ecclestone needs to be careful just in case Campos Meta struggles to get two cars ready in three weeks time.

As I mentioned here, this team is not worth saving at this point and that is not meant to sound callous. The team would not be competitive or even safe if it were hobbled together for 2010. The point is, they need to regroup and discuss what is feasible. No one envied Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor for trying to start a brand new team in the middle of an economic disaster but it has taken its toll and they need to start minimizing damages on a personal level at least.

In the end, however, Craw has told Varsha that the FIA is working with USF1 to try to help. Here is the story:

I appreciate Varsha interviewing Craw and attempting to ferret out some details. Windsor, after all, is a colleague of his and I appreciate his attempt at clarifying the issue on Windsor’s behalf and for the F1 fans as a whole. I know this is difficult for Varsha as well but as he mentioned in our most recent interview, patience is the key here and we must all wait and see.

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