Report: Sauber, Toro Rosso targets for new U.S. F1 team

One of the two American efforts to create a U.S.-based Formula 1 team “moved up a gear” during the Canadian Grand Prix when leaders met with Bernie Ecclestone, Autosport is reporting today.

The group, led by Parris Mullins, who advised Chad Hurley during the failed USF1 bid, is going a decidedly different route than USF1 by targeting an existing team to partner with, Autosport says.

The other American effort, Cypher Group, has been quiet, although I did see on its Facebook page the suggestion that the team try to enlist Stephen Colbert’s support. Colbert got behind the U.S. Olympic speed skating team and helped raise several hundred thousand dollars to keep the team going.

That’s a far cry from what an F1 team would need, of course.

But back to Parris. Here’s some quotes via the report:

“Over the course of these three days progress has been huge. There was only so much I could do from the US anyway, and all the right people are here congregated in to one area.

“I made a lot more progress this weekend than what I was expecting, I hope to be making just as much progress between now and Valencia so we will see. The project is moving ahead.

“More options have come up. As I have mentioned before I had several different ideas for not just myself to enter the sport, but also for the group of people that I am representing. So more possibilities have popped up. It has been a very productive weekend.”

[snip]

“Like I have said before, if the project makes sense Bernie is willing to help,” he said. “If it makes sense then he will get behind it. I am taking it one step at a time, going at his pace and following his advice.”

A lot seems to be being made about Mullins’ “relationship” with Ferrari, which seems mostly to be based on the fact he sold Ferraris in Silicon Valley. I guess that’s something, but, I don’t know, it doesn’t strike me as a huge deal.

Between Sauber and Toro Rosso, I’d expect Sauber to be the more likely target, despite Peter Sauber’s comments in recent weeks about how the team is looking ahead to next season and working on securing sponsors and funding. His body language whenever you see him does not suggest a man who is enjoying his “return” to Formula 1. A “Scuderia Americana” that involves a closer relationship between Ferrari and the former Sauber team strikes me as not completely unimaginable.

Toro Rosso seems less likely, mainly because it does provide Red Bull more marketing and a place to put young drivers. Of course, it isn’t as though those development seats have paid off beyond Sebastian Vettel, so the company deciding to focus entirely on its A-Team also doesn’t seem unthinkable.

The truly intriguing thing in this report, though, is Bernie Ecclestone’s role. Mullins really seems to be deferring to Bernie. We can debate the rationale behind that. It does sound as though the U.S. Grand Prix people did about the same, so maybe it is the way Bernie is proceeding with F1 in the U.S.?

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