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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An F1 team in the U.S.?

Rumor has it Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor are planning a U.S.-based F1 team for 2010.

Autosport.com reports sources saying the team has gotten the approval from the powers that be, despite no official entry, and is currently trying to raise funds.

Designer Anderson worked for Ligier and Onyx before returning home to the States, where he worked in IndyCar and NASCAR. Ex-Williams manager Windsor is, of course, currently an F1 journalist.

According to the report the team would be based in North Carolina, where Anderson's part-owned rolling road wind tunnel is located. The team would likely have a European base, as well.

A Web site, http://www.usf1.com/, currently shows a logo. Autosport.com confirmed Anderson owns the site.

Obviously, this is pretty exciting, but I'm not quitting my day job, yet. While new cost-cutting regulations have made it a better climate for independent teams, it should prove challenging to raise the kind of money needed to sponsor a team in this economy.

Additionally, basing the team in the States seems difficult logistically. While this isn't Penske in the 70s, there is still a considerable European schedule to consider. Do the new rules truly make it more feasible to run a team from the states, as the Autosport report suggests?

Finally, I still don't see the majority of mainstream U.S. sports fans taking much notice without a race on the continent, and even with races here I question whether a sponsor can be tempted. With Canada and the U.S. on the schedule, Scott Speed made no impact in the U.S. market. U.S. drivers take part in MotoGP and Le Mans with great success and are known only to gearheads. The reality of the U.S. market is that it is dominated by four sports: Baseball, American Football, Basketball and NASCAR. David Beckham's minimal marketing impact in this country in the past year-and-a-half gives just a small peek at what these guys are up against.

The concept of showcasing U.S. technology and drivers is to be applauded, but with the U.S. audience so compartmentalized, this is going to have to be the real deal. Frontline talent, top engine, and a viable chance at the championship. Anything less, and mainstream America won't even know you're there.

That said, if you're serious boys, and there's anything I can do, I'll move to North Carolina tomorrow.

More cost-cutting on the way

The FIA looks set to introduce another round of cuts, according to a white paper seen by ITV.

The latest plan to be proposed to the teams would seek to lower the cost of taking part by limiting the areas where manufacturers can compete (for example, today's engines are considered "non-compete"). In addition to engines, gearboxes, wheels, brakes and suspensions are targeted.

In those areas where teams are permitted and choose to compete, they will be required to share the technology to those teams which do not, ITV reports.

Once the economy picks up, the FIA would then open up the competition.

“When we see that things are picking up and there is more money in multi-nationals for discretionary spend, then we can start reintroducing a wider technical competition,” Tony Purnell, technical consultant to the FIA and author of the paper, is quoted by ITV. “But we’ll keep to a central philosophy that engineers work on things that are relevant to society, like fuel economy and efficiency.”

How FOTA will view this remains to be seen. I'm thinking not so excited... Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


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