USF1 made their intent to compete in the 2010 Formula One World Championship official yesterday by speaking about their plans on Speed TV in America. Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor discussed how they see the team coming together, their plans for a European base as well as the factory in North Carolina and even spoke of their aims for the next off-season and their first two years of competition. And so far, it all sounds rather fascinating.
Due to the ban on in-season testing, USF1 will not be able to run a car on track until next January. Team principal Ken Anderson did say however that they hoped to have a car ready by September or October for static rig testing at the factory. Before this can happen though, they will need to organise an engine supplier.
We’ll have a car on the ground in September/October to start doing static rig testing. There are still some things up in the air right now as far as who our engine supplier is and when that contract would start.
We’re in a state of flux and all these things will come out in the next four to six weeks. But the rule as it is right now is that you’re not supposed to run a car between the last race and January 1st, so I would say we’re not planning to actually run the car until January next year – but then you have almost three months to the first race anyway. Ken Anderson.
Peter Windsor, the other half of the management team who is putting the new team together spoke of the hope for a reliable first season with perhaps a good result. For the second year, the team are remaining conservative in their expectations and are hoping for some minor points. This approach is probably the most realistic, and quite unlike the promises made by BAR when they first took over the Tyrrell team in 1999.
A truly successful 2010 would be first of all proving that a Formula One car can be designed and built in the United States, outside of Europe, breaking the mould and doing that efficiently and cleanly. By that I mean we produce two good cars that are reliable, we finish races and maybe get a decent result in year one.
In year two I’d like to think we could be scoring some points, which means top ten/top eight finishing. Then the sky is the limit after that. I am being quite conservative because this is a new team and we need to walk before we can run. Peter Windsor.
USF1 will almost certainly have a base in Europe for convenience reasons. The continent of North America is quite out of the way for most races and storing the race and testing equipment in Spain or France makes transportation a lot easier. Windsor said that having a base in Europe will appeal to sponsors and investors (and their wives, apparently), and of course the fans they are looking forward to welcoming.
We’re going to have a European base which is mainly for the trucks, the motorhome, the pit equipment and for operating when we’re testing. It’s a logistics operation, not large, and it could therefore be anywhere.
First of all we want it to be a nice part of the world that people are going to want to visit, particularly our investors and partners. Spain would be nice, southern France, northern Italy, somewhere where the wives of sponsors would want to go. Becuase it’s a logistics base we can be quite liberal in the way we make that decision. Peter Windsor.
Regarding drivers, USF1 admitted that while they would prefer to have an all-American line-up, experience should come above nationality, especially in the first year or two. With strict limitations on testing now in place, the team need to gain as much knowledge as possible in the shortest amount of time available. However, Windsor appeared wary of hiring someone who has a successful history in Formula One because their expectations may be higher than the team’s, leading to poor results and poor morale.
To return to the BAR comparison for a moment… when Craig Pollack and Jacques Villeneuve moved the operation from Ockham to Brackley ten years ago, they spoke of maiden wins in the first year of competition, and Villeneuve was particularly buoyed following a championship win in 1997 and a less competitive season in 1998. 1999 was meant to be a return to form for Jacques’ luck. Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out that way.
In year one, certainly there is an argument for having an experienced F1 driver in the car. We’re going to need to get all the information we can as quickly as possible, particularly in an era when they’re cutting right back on the amount of testing you can do. There’s definitely and argument for that, and then maybe having a young American in the other car.
But actually finding the right experienced driver to put in the car for those first two years, or maybe just the first year, is not easy if you actually think about. We are going to be a new team on the block and a driver who brings a lot of experience and a record of success with him could be a difficult driver for us to work with, because his expectations are going to be a lot higher than ours. So it would need to be exactly the right sort of driver with the right sort of temperament.
In Rubens Barrichello’s case he would be good, because he’s known two bad years at Honda and that would be a very useful baseline for our operation. But he’s almost unique of the drivers out there who would potentially fill the role of the experienced driver.
You can’t imagine Jenson [Button] in a start-up team, driving at 100% knowing that the best he’s going to qualify is 14th – which would be good for us – and finishing maybe 10th on a good day. Jenson would want more than that and it would be very difficult working with somebody like that. Peter Windsor.
While these are wise words indeed, and it is good that they are being mentioned after the initial impression of an all-American line-up was given, I think Windsor is perhaps a little wrong about Jenson Button. He often did qualify 14th last year and the year before, and a tenth place finish was indeed the best the Briton could manage with the RA108 for the majority of the season.
Rubens Barrichello would be a good fit though. The Brazilian driver is almost certainly now ousted from the Honda team, even if they are saved from disbandment. Barrichello said earlier in 2008 that he feels as though he has more to give in Formula One and spoke of hoping to continue his already very long career.
Windsor and Anderson also want the team to be inviting and welcoming to fans. They both spoke of wanting fans of the team and sport to visit their facilities and see a Formula One car being designed and built. The factories would also house TV production equipment and Windsor reiterated their close relationship with Speed TV.
In contrast, a visit to the Ferrari factory which involves more than looking at the red-brick building from the restaurant opposite the main entrance involves a few phone calls and undoubtedly a lot of security checks. A trip to Woking would likely involve a similar process.
To reach out to the fans though will do Formula One the power of good, and maybe encourage others to adopt a more open door policy when it comes to the very people who the sport is ultimately catering for and who keep it running. Without the fans watching the sport on TV and visiting the tracks to see the action live, Formula One would very quickly shrivel up and wither.
We are going to make this a very fan-friendly team, not only in the States but globally. We are going to design the fan-route – they will be welcome to come to our HQ, they will be able to tour, look at an F1 car being designed and built. They will be able to touch and feel an F1 team for the first time.
“It will be a lovely experience to come here; we will have a state of the art facility that will be as good as anything you’ll see in Europe. It won’t be McLaren or Ferrari because obviously we have no history but we will do it our way, and that’s compatible with being here in the US. Peter Windsor.
So what do you all think of USF1? Is it still a bit of a pipe-dream, or do you think they will manage to pull everything together and deliver what they have spoken of already?