USF1 will eventually produce 'the next American world champion' in F1 – that is the audacious and confident boast of Peter Windsor, as a former grand prix-winner has rated the North Carolina-based 2010 newcomer's chances of success as 'excellent'.
USF1 will be one of four new teams on the starting grid next season, along with British outfits Manor and Lotus and Spanish operation Campos Meta, but many have cast doubt upon just how serious the undertaking is – being based the other side of the Pond to every other team in the field, and in a country where enthusiasm for F1 has always been somewhat muted to say the least – and indeed upon whether it will even make it to Bahrain for the 2010 curtain-raiser in March at all.
Moreover, whilst much was made back at the launch about the desire to employ two home-grown stars on the driving strength, it now appears that a brace of more experienced 'foreigners' will constitute the line-up for USF1's 2010 debut – dashing the hopes of the likes of Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Kyle Busch, Jonathan Summerton et al
However, the Charlotte concern – housed in the former Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR workshop, albeit with a Spanish satellite base – has secured significant backing from wealthy YouTube
co-founder Chad Hurley to foot part of its $60 million annual budget, even though no other sponsors have yet been announced.
What's more, USF1 has recruited existing F1 and NASCAR experts to boost its workforce. There will be an R&D manager from 2009 F1 World Champions Brawn GP, whilst lead aerodynamicist Eric Warren and machine shop manager Brian Williams
both herald from NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World East Series stalwarts Michael Waltrip Racing.
The team will also benefit from the state-of-the-art Windshear wind tunnel in nearby Concord, that Windsor's fellow co-founder – and respected former F1 and IndyCar designer – Ken Anderson helped to build. Windshear was used by five other F1 teams last year, whilst with its headquarters in the heart of NASCAR country, USF1 will be able to draw upon a raft of cutting-edge innovation, with Anderson contending that as much as 90 per cent of the technology in the top flight comes initially from the US aerospace industry.
The labour and parts will also be sourced from home soil, and Dan Gurney – who won four grands prix in the 1960s, the last of them with an Eagle, the final F1 victory to-date by a US-based team back in 1967 – reckons USF1's approach is the correct one, as it effectively removes the 'middle man' in terms of needing to ship parts across the Atlantic.
“Kenny and Peter are putting together a perfect team and have an excellent chance,” the 78-year-old – whose Anglo-American Racers challenge was based in California when the state was the centre of the aviation industry four decades ago – told USA Today
. “They are armed with technology we never had.”
“Because of the boom in NASCAR, we can take advantage of infrastructure no-one else [in F1] is and be the only F1 game in town,” affirmed Windsor. “The plan is to be an American brand that creates the next American world champion. That's the raison d'être
of this team.”
There are rumours in the media that all is not well in the relationship with engine-supplier Cosworth, and that the current 60-strong workforce is only being employed on a month-by-month basis – but Hurley is adamant that USF1 will be around for a long, long time.
“We'll find the revenue to make a great business out of this,” underlined the man who sold YouTube
for $1.65 billion three years ago. “The returns may not be as large in the first few years, but I'm not involved for the short-term. We're looking 20 years down the road.”