The men who matter in Formula One have embraced the USF1 concept warmly, according to co-principals Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson, who confirmed that both the FIA and Formula One Management have kept a close eye on developments since the project was first mooted two years ago.
Although Windsor told Crash.net
that the idea for the latest all-American F1 effort had its origins some four of five years before rumours about its existence began to leak out on the internet, he confirmed that the two organisational bodies of note had been aware of his and Anderson's plans since the end of the 2006 campaign - and fully behind it ever since.
"I first told Bernie Ecclestone about this in Brazil '06, and he was his usual specific self and said 'great, get it done'," former Williams team manager Windsor revealed in a press conference to 'launch' the USF1 programme, "We've kept him in touch ever since and he's always been very supportive. Anything we need, he's tried to help us with. A good example was the DVD he did on the '08 Formula One season that we have been using in some of our presentations to investors here in the United States. It's not for commercial use, but that's a typical example of the type of help he has been giving us - and that's quite a big thing coming from FOM."
Windsor was particularly pleased to have received approval from the governing body, having seen USF1's modus operandi
fit neatly in with the widely-publicised plans to bring spending down to a more manageable level for all involved.
"The FIA have known about this in detail now for about five to six months and instantly grasped the programme and accepted [it] as we wanted to do it - as, dare I say it, the 'poster child' of how a Formula One team should be going into the next generation, facing a recession and the rule changes," he claimed.
"How we are approaching it – the lean, mean 'skunk works' approach – is exactly the sort of thing the FIA are looking for, so they say, for the future. So, we are working very closely with the FIA in every area of the team. We are keeping them informed of how we are doing the team, how we are selling the stakes of the team, the budgets involved.
"Having said that, we've assumed nothing in the budgets and we've got a very realistic approach to the commercial side for Max Mosley and, particularly, Nick Craw who is now vice-president of the FIA, [and] based in Denver. That's a great thing for American motorsports. He's done a fabulous job over the year and to have Nick in such a strong position on the world motorsports stage can only help us. It's a great, timely, move for American motorsports."
Windsor admitted that it had been exciting to fend off cynics who thought that USF1's timing was wrong.
"If we were in a boom period right now, and money was falling out of the sky, and there was a line-up of teams wanting to do Formula One and lots of trillionaires out there being enticed by the glamour of Formula One, it would be very difficult for guys like Ken and me to put our hands up and say we can do a team efficiently, we can do it in America, we can do it very differently than everybody else," he insisted, "We'd just get laughed out of the ballpark because that's not the way you do a Formula One team.
"But the fact that we are in a recession - and don't forget we started this team long before the recession was ever heard of - the fact that we are in a recession means people actually listen to us now and take us seriously because it all adds up. Forget the $48m bond days, forget the $100m budgets, forget the $30m retainers for drivers... Over the next three or four years, things are going to change dramatically in Formula One - and that's our period."