Leading international video website YouTube
could be set to spearhead a '21st century' style sponsorship package the like of which has never before been seen in F1, Peter Windsor has vowed – after a meeting in the Silverstone paddock last month set tongues wagging.
The North Carolina-based outfit will become the first American team to join the grand prix grid in more than two decades when it makes its bow next year as one of three new entries accepted by governing body the FIA, alongside Campos and Manor.
Though there has been much scepticism about the viability of a project which has its headquarters across the Pond in the heart of NASCAR country when every other F1 squad is based in Europe, USF1 co-founders Windsor and former F1 and IndyCar designer Ken Anderson have always been adamant that the undertaking is 100 per cent serious.
The speculation that YouTube
is to come on-board as chief sponsor – in much the same way as Richard Branson's Virgin Group looks set to link up with Manor – only adds to that conviction, and the company's co-founder Chad Hurley was allegedly seen in discussions with Windsor and Anderson over the weekend of the British Grand Prix.
“I did see Chad at Silverstone,” former Williams
team principal-turned-broadcaster Windsor told SPEED TV
. “He was around and it was good to see him there. People have tied him to our team, which is incredibly flattering, and who knows? We've got plenty of announcements that we'll be making shortly, and we'll be announcing the identities of all of our investors and quite a lot of other stuff as well, really exciting stuff.
“At the moment all I can say is that we've just got our heads down doing what is immediately important to us, which is building the team now that we've got our entry – but we have got a great investor group, and it's going to take us into the 21st century in a way that you guys have never imagined.”
Though FIA President Max Mosley's intended budget cap was a key criterion in USF1's entry bid, its subsequent loss should not affect either the team's preparations or its on-track performance, Windsor urged.
“The official limit has gone and of course that means teams can now spend whatever they want,” acknowledged the 57-year-old, “but the point that Ken Anderson and I have been making from the start – that we believe we can do a lot more for less money than the other teams in the pit-lane – is still incredibly valid.
“Although the teams are saying that the budget cap has gone, none of them are saying that they're going to carry on spending $250 million to $400 million a year. They're all saying that they're going to cut back. Our point is that if you take whatever that number is, whether it's $30 million or $200 million, we're going to be able to do more with that number because of the way we're doing the team.
“We're starting from zero, which is a big help in terms of keeping costs down and not having to absorb redundant systems, and beyond that we believe in the philosophy of American technology. I think that's going to give us a lot of advantages in many areas.”