The new USF1 team owned by Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson was formally announced on Tuesday afternoon on Speedtv in America. USF1 will design, build and race its cars from a facility in Charlotte, North Carolina by 2010 and will be the first American team to compete in the World Championship since Penske and Parnelli back in 1974-77. Anderson is the team principal and Windsor is USF1’s sporting director.
“Ken and I have always wanted to do our own team our way,” said Windsor. “It sounds arrogant perhaps, but we have some history and we have some things we want to bring into the sport that we think we can do well. The key to that was not selling anything more than a very small stake in the team. So we set some unbelievably steep hills to climb in a recession.
“We’ve sold off a small part of the team and I’m pleased to say we’ve done that. We’re two guys who can say we’re going to do a Formula 1 team because we’ve got the capital to do it, and to some extent the recession has helped us a little bit. For those out there who say, ‘Where’s all the money? Where’s the huge facility?’, that day isn’t going to happen with USF1. We’ve always had a very different approach, and that approach will become visible I think as this year unfolds.”
Windsor said the new team would be lean and mean with a budget well under $100 million. “The cost of doing F1 and starting up a new team are dramatically different from the old $48 million bond days,” explained Windsor. “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 F1, and that’s our period.”
Anderson expects the team to operate with no more than 120 employees. “We’re looking at hiring over 100 highly-skilled, highly-paid people,” he said. “We want the minimum amount of the best people. Remember that some F1 teams do their own engines or other things. McLaren, for instance, does a lot of things other than racing.
“Even though we might have only 100 or 120 people in-house, there are dozens of vendors we can rely on, which in effect would add up to several hundred. Racing’s a $60 billion industry in North Carolina. It’s all there, probably within 50 miles of Charlotte. In terms of test equipment, a shaker rig or a wind tunnel doesn’t know if it’s got a Cup car or a Formula 1 car on it. I’d say we have more equipment and more talented people in this area than anywhere on the planet. If we can build Stealth fighters here we can certainly put an F1 car together.”
Anderson and Windsor will soon decide where the team’s shop will be located. “There’s one building we particularly like that we’re looking at,” said Anderson. “But there’s lots of real estate available in Charlotte right now.”
The team will use the state-of-the-art rolling ground plane Wind Shear wind tunnel in nearby Mecklenburg. Anderson helped design the tunnel, which has been used by a number of F1 teams. “We can’t name names,” said Anderson, “but quite a few F1 teams have been very happy with the Wind Shear tunnel. A lot of suppliers to F1 are here. McLaren Electronics has a facility in Mooresville. There’s a lot more here than people realise and most of the technology in F1 comes from the United States.”
Anderson said the team is wide open to engine suppliers: “We’re sending out a proposal to all the manufacturers currently in F1 to let them know we’re here and we’ll entertain sitting down with them. For every manufacturer in F1 their biggest market is the United States. The only exception is Renault, but they have an alliance with Nissan so it might make sense for them.”
Added Windsor: “The things we’ve got to achieve in no particular order are: drivers, engines, European (operations) location, the building here, sponsors – all those things.”
Windsor said the list of potential drivers includes Alex Rossi, Conor Daly, Josef Newgarden, Gabby Chaves, Jonathan Summerton, Scott Speed, Danica Patrick (above), Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal and even some NASCAR drivers such as Kyle Busch (below).
“We haven’t made any decisions on drivers yet,” he added. “Your guess is as good as mine. There’s a list of American drivers with the right credentials who have proved they’ve got the talent to race in F1. It’s a question of finding the two most compatible drivers with what we’re setting out to achieve in year one and year two, and who’ll grow with us.”