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option for a £30 million budget cap in 2010, an independent US-based team makes a lot more sense. What makes less sense is Bernie Ecclestone vetoing the USF1 name, forcing the team to become the wordy US Grand Prix Engineering (Indy owner Tony George holds the rights to `USGP’…).
But it’s still a tough project to launch. At least Anderson and Windsor between them share 70 years of collective experience and know what they are getting into. Motor Sport asked Bobby Rahal and Mario Andretti, two Americans with first-hand knowledge of how tough Grand Prix racing can be, to assess their chances. Turn to page 14 for more details of the team.
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WINDSOR: “If we were in a boom period now and there was a line-up of teams wanting to do Fl and lots of trillionaires out there being affracted to the glamour of Fl, we’d get laughed out the ballpark. But the fact we are in a recession and don’t forget we started this team long before the recession was even heard of means that people listen to us now and take us seriously. The cost of starting up a new team is dramatically different from the old $48 million bond days. Forget the $100 million budgets and $30 million retainers for drivers. Over the next three or four years it’s going to change dramatically in Fl, and that’s our period.”
ANDERSON: “We have had an unbelievably positive response and so much support from across the US and around the world. We already have a major global American company seriously interested in coming on board as our primary sponsor and we have some global companies who want to get to both the American and world markets with their products or services.”
ANDERSON: “Racing’s a $60 billion industry in North Carolina. Within 50 miles of Charloffe, it’s all there. I’d say we have more equipment and talented people in this area than anywhere on the planet. We probably have more tools within a 50-mile radius than anywhere else in terms of chassis dynos, shaker rigs, CFD simulation, the world’s best wind tunnel, and great people.
“We’ve had tremendous response and interest from Silicon Valley and we will have some great engineers working for us very motivated, switched-on people. The majority of Fl technology comes from the US. The teams around Oxford and the people at Maranello do a great job of packaging that technology, but it originates and continues to be developed in the US, and we’re going to be tapping into that on a major scale. If we can build Stealth fighters here, we can certainly put an Fl car together.”
In addition to its Charlotte factory, the team is planning a European operations base in Spain in partnership with Sergio Rinland and Joan Villadelpraf ANDERSON: “On the logistics side, less than half the races next year will be on the (European) continent. So there’s less reason to be there, and the cost of doing business in the US is significantly cheaper than in Europe. We live in an age of FedEx, DHL and UPS. The logistics side is preffy simple. And there are so many races now on the Pacific
Rim and in the southern hemisphere that are a long way from Europe.”
ANDERSON: “We’ve sent proposals to all the manufacturers in Fl to let them know we’re here and we’ll sit down with them. For every Fl manufacturer their biggest market is the US. The only exception to that is Renault, but they have an alliance with Nissan, so it might still make sense for them.”
WINDSOR: “The logical thing from a marketing point of view was to see if we could have two American drivers, and that’s what we intend to do. A lot of people will throw their hands up and say, how can you do that? We don’t have any American drivers in Fl right now so by definition the two people we’ll have in the car in 2010 will be relatively inexperienced, but we’re going to stick to that. We’re a young team and there’s nothing wrong with having young drivers growing at the same pace, but we haven’t made any decisions on drivers yet.
“The sky’s the limit. There are NASCAR drivers who Ken and I agree that if they wanted to switch to Fl we could groom them and help them make that change. Kyle Busch, for example. What a great star he would be. Fl would welcome anything like that.
“Danica Patrick is another name that has to be considered for what she’s achieved. Again, she’s raced in Europe and she did it the hard way. Then there’s Marco Andreffi and Graham Rahal, drivers who are the sons of great American stars.”