25 July 2009
USF1 chief admits Wurz could be 2010 target
Peter Windsor has acknowledged that whilst 2010 newcomer USF1 remains keen to field an all-American line-up for its maiden season in the top flight next year, it is similarly considering current Brawn GP reserve driver Alex Wurz – aware that 'there is maybe an argument for running an experienced driver in one car'.
All manner of names have been linked with the nascent North Carolina-based operation, led by respected former Williams and Ferrari team manager Windsor and erstwhile Ligier, Onyx and IndyCar designer Ken Anderson – with home-grown heroes like Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick, Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jonathan Summerton amongst others all understood to be in the melting pot.
The general wisdom has been that the ideal line-up would be composed of a rising American young gun and older, more experienced hand, which is just where Wurz – with 69 grand prix starts under his belt for front-running outfits Williams, Benetton and McLaren and an enviable reputation for testing and development – comes into the equation.
The 35-year-old officially retired from F1 at the end of 2007, and has since gone on to race with considerable success in sportscars, achieving his second triumph from three starts in the iconic, round-the-clock Le Mans 24 Hours endurance classic with Peugeot earlier this year. The Austrian was also the driving force behind Team Superfund, which tried and failed to gain a 2010 entry.
“We have spoken to Alex,” Windsor confirmed in an interview with BBC Sport. “Any new team coming into Formula 1 needs to look at drivers with experience. Alex Wurz could perhaps be able to operate at our rate of learning. Alex has got a great brain, he is a good guy and a good friend.
“We have said several times that we want to run Americans, but our first year in F1 will be critical in a number of ways, especially in this compressed time zone. We don't have a lot of time to do everything now because of all the turbulence and politics we have had this season, so there is maybe an argument for running an experienced driver in one car.”
Another driver to have pitched his name into the frame for one of the two available USF1 berths is former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who has been a regular figure in the grand prix paddock of late, and is present in Budapest this weekend.
The 1997 title-winner – who has not won a race since then, and left the sport with his tail between his legs mid-2006, somewhat ignominiously parting company with BMW-Sauber just before the Hungarian Grand Prix following a run of poor results and rather too many incidents for his employer's liking – has affirmed that he is indeed 'crazy enough' to be plotting a return more than three years on, and that much as he grew up watching his father race at the highest level, he would like his own sons to now have the same possibility.
“The passion, the desire, the hunger are all there,” the French-Canadian, son of the late, legendary Ferrari idol Gilles Villeneuve, is quoted as having said by AFP. “I have spent two years on holiday doing motocross and karting. If I am mad enough to do that, I am mad enough to take on Eau Rouge at full speed. I want my sons to see me at the wheel and not only in a photograph.”
BMW Sauber F1
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