Much fuss has been made of the name used by Team USF1 since the project was rumoured and then further confirmed by Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor. You perhaps wouldn’t think the name of a Formula One team is overly important, and although the sport does have some impressive marques, these have only come to be such symbols over time and with great success. For a new team, does the designation on the timing sheet really matter? Equally so, the logo they use to represent themselves?
Well according to Bernie Ecclestone, it apparently does. When USF1 were first rumoured, this was the name that was associated with them, and to be perfectly fair, it makes an awful lot of sense. Anderson and Windsor wanted the operation to be centred around American industries, with American drivers and cars designed and built in the United States.
A Formula One team from North America? USF1 sounds about right to me, and also to the rest of the world.
The new team quickly set about claiming a domain on the Internet for their project and put up a simple logo. However, it wasn’t long before the USF1.com website was pulled (and it now redirects to a different domain). At the same time, a rumour started to do the rounds suggesting that Ecclestone had requested USF1 to change their name, the term F1 not being allowed to be used by anyone other than Bernie himself.
This issue of the term F1 goes back a few years, and Ecclestone has apparently insisted he holds the trademark for it. Among the journalists reporting on Formula One, much mockery was made of having to put the symbol ™ after each instance of the letter ‘F’ and the number ‘1’ in close proximity. You can only imagine the ridiculousness of this when scrolling through even BlogF1. Sorry, BlogF1™.
And while USF1 were laying claim to USGPE.com as a new home for their online activities, current team Force India were told to adjust their logo, the suggestion being the initials of the team, FI, looked very similar to F1 in their stylised lettering. The logo was changed to include a lowercase ‘i’ instead. The 2008 original logo can be seen in the photograph at the top of the page.
So United States Formula One became United States Grand Prix Engineering, or USGPE, and further mocking of Ecclestone’s stance on the letter-and-number ensued. However, a recent interview with USF1’s Ken Anderson suggests another possible reason for the change in name. Speaking to Autosport in May, Anderson was asked the following:
What is the latest situation regarding the team name, because there were some reports that it had changed?
To which Anderson responded with:
Well, the name didn’t change because “USF1” was the project name, and it leaked out like that. The thing is, we are not approved to use the term “F1” until we are in, so it is almost a Catch 22 situation. We can talk about it, but we can’t use it until we are in – so we just took it off the website and had another domain registered – USGPE.
When further pressed by Autosport with the question:
So the team will remain USF1, if you get an entry?
Anderson clarified with the following answer:
Yes. If you look around at other teams, if you use the “F1” in your name you have to use the word team as well. So we will be Team USF1.
And as the entry list confirmed when it was published in June, it had “Team USF1” listed among the current and new teams.
So it would seem that the ruling regarding the use of the term ‘F1’, it is allowed providing the name also includes the word ‘Team’. Which strikes me as odd. Very odd, in fact. I can understand that the use of the term ‘F1’ may only be used in certain circumstances (and even then, that is highly arguable and I personally will argue it), allowing the term providing it is accompanied with the word ‘team’ makes little sense other than to differentiate between something that is officially F1 and something that is not. But then, Formula One is officially known as ‘Formula 1’. The logo makes use of the initials, but who would want to use that dated old thing anyway…?
Of course, USF1 are not owned by a company directly related to the company of Formula One – one of Ecclestone’s FOM companies – but interestingly, Formula One Management is not Formula 1 Management. And to open the floodgates even further, Williams are officially known as and have been for many years as WilliamsF1…
To be perfectly frank, Formula One teams, in my humble opinion, should be forced to include the term ‘F1’ in their names. Red Bull race and sponsor many categories, Renault have a Formula One team, but also put their name to other motor sport series as well as a giant automobile manufacturing business. While those in the know are aware that Red Bull Racing is the Formula One team, others may not and think it is some junior formulae outfit, or a spin-off PR company, or…
By including the term F1, people know exactly what you are talking about. Of course, common sense isn’t always that common, even in the wiser folk who run the sport known as Team F1™.