The USF1 team announced their intentions to enter the Formula 1 World Championship today on Speed TV. Sporting Director Peter Windsor was confident that the team will succeed now that they have the endorsement of Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone. Mr. Windsor, the teams sporting Director, said that USF1 will break the mold of how the future teams of F1 will be ran. Fully aware of the global financial situation, Mr. Windsor feels that USF1 can actually thrive in this environment. Suggesting a leaner, meaner more spartan approach to F1 Mr. Windsor says trying to find sponsors and money int his environment will be a testament to what USF1 is all about-reduced costs and competitive racing.
I’m intrigued by Peter’s enthusiasm and nod to old-school privateer style and panache. The very thought of USF1 having a reduced footprint or tent in the paddock area resonates with me. Like the CHAMP car days when i walked the paddock and spoke to Mario Andretti, Christiano, Paul, and Pruett. In a time when company’s, teams and fans are recoiling and reducing to stave off recession; perhaps the USF1 can lead the future by showing how to run a team on a fraction of the cost Ferrari and McLaren spend. the biggest question is, can they be just a fraction off the pace with Ferrari or McLAren when it’s all said and done?
Peter said that Mr. Mosley was all thumbs-up giddy with the idea and why not? He’s looking for cost-reductions and green initiatives for his legacy and if USF1 stumbled in to his office waxing poetic about running a team for $80 million with a spartan paddock presence and a team of 100 people; Max would be all over that like red on a backside. Peter said:
“If you look at the way it has gone in the recent past, it has been find an incredibly rich trillionaire and have him dominate the team – and you are lucky enough to get a job when you’ve put the team together,” said Windsor.
“Or you are lucky enough to be invited by a large car company to set up an F1 team for them. Ken and I are lucky enough to have been around long enough not to want to do either of those things – and we always wanted to do our own team our way.
“It sounds very arrogant perhaps, but we have some history and we have some things that we want to bring into the sport that we think we can do well.”
“The key…was not selling anything more than a very small stake in the team, so we set some unbelievably steep hills to climb, in the recession,” he said. “We wanted to sell off a small part of the team and, as we sit here now, we have done that.
“We are two guys who can say we want to do an F1 team because we have the capital to do it, and to some extent the recession has helped us a little bit. For those out there who say where is the money? Where is the huge facility? Where is the money pouring out of the sky? Well, that isn’t going to happen with USF1. We have always had a very different approach, and that approach will become visible as time goes on and this year unfolds.”
“I first told Bernie Ecclestone about this in Brazil 2006, and he was his usual specific self. He just said, ‘great get it done’. So I said okay lets go and do it.
“He has kept in touch ever since and has always been supportive. Anything that we need he has tried to help us with. A good example is the DVD of the lovely edit he did of the 2008 Formula One season, which we have been using as part of our presentation to investors here in the United States.
“It’s not for commercial use, but that is a typical example of the sort of help he has been giving us, and that is quite a big thing from FOM.
“The FIA equally have known about this in detail now for about five to six months, and instantly grasped the programme and instantly accepted the way we wanted to do it as, dare I say it, the poster child for how a Formula One team should be going into the next generation.”
Now I am a big fan of the old-school privateer racing which Max and Bernie both lived through and if USF1 can recapture that magic, I’m all for it. My fear is that capturing an perception, image, methodology and bank account of Formula 1’s version of a starving artist may just humiliate the American effort. Being competitive and running with the proverbial big dogs of F1 is no easy task and while reducing your overhead by forgoing the need to build your own Paragon in Woking may be sensible and leave more money for R&D; it still remains to be seen if the Smarts-n-Parts can be assembled in a cohesive manner in which to avoid having your side mirrors blown off the car by Lewis Hamilton or Kimi Raikkonen as they fly by you.
We’ll see in approximately 8-12 months but this F1 fan welcomes the concept and embraces the team for what it could present and how it could help F1 find its DNA again.