Crash.net:
Ken Anderson has made no secret of the fact that he'd like to promote American drivers through USF1 - but how viable is it, at this stage, to rely on US talent?

Peter Windsor:
It's not a question of relying on US talent, it's a question of grooming US talent and bringing it in to F1 and, again, proving, like everything else, that there are American products out there that are capable of competing with the best in the world. I think, right now, that there are several young American drivers who are right up there with the Sebastien Buemis and Adrian Sutils of the world, for example. And, if we can get them to that level, for sure we can take them to the next level and beyond that. There's been no effort, no schooling and no obvious path for American drivers into F1 for... well, forever really. If you look at the drivers that have come across, they've usually broken the mould and either done a very good job or, perhaps, suffered as a result of a lack of support, but we intend, and we hope, to be able to bring through a whole new tranche of American drivers - there will be another Lewis Hamilton out there, but he will be American.

Crash.net:
Do you think, maybe in the longer term, that USF1 will look to support talent coming up through the ranks, a bit like the Red Bull scheme in a way?

Peter Windsor:
Maybe not like the Red Bull team, but we do hope to support a lot of drivers through the ranks and have them as part of USF1 at various levels of their career and give them genuine support, coaching and encouragement. I think that that is something that a lot of F1 teams do quite well, but we're going to take that several steps further in the way we build a ladder for American drivers. I think Jackie Stewart had quite a good programme when he had his own F1 team, a ladder to stardom, and if we can achieve something along that line, but confine it to the American stream, then I think we'll be doing very well.

Crash.net:
Do you think that the American drivers who been in F1 recently - the likes of Michael Andretti and Scott Speed - had a raw deal when they were there?

Peter Windsor:
I don't think Michael did, I think he had a good opportunity and I think he did a very good job, it's just that he wasn't.... I think the American press had much too much expectation of what Michael should achieve and crucified him when he didn't match Ayrton Senna in the McLaren team. But, if you look at it, I think he did a very good job. I think Scott Speed, on the other hand, under-achieved. He had an enormous possibility there, and had a massive amount of money spent on him, but it never really went well for either party. He's a very quick driver, but it never really gelled in any dimension, and that was a shame. If you look back at it, Scott had a massive amount of support in America, even at the levels he was operating at, so I think it goes show how much enthusiasm there is for F1 in the United States.

Crash.net:
Would Scott Speed feature in your plans, or is he pretty much entrenched with Red Bull and NASCAR now?

Peter Windsor:
We're looking at everybody out there - we've made no decision on drivers at all yet. It's very early days and all I can say is that we're looking at everybody on the obvious list of contenders.

Crash.net:
And that 'obvious list' presumably includes Danica Patrick. Is she a credible F1 contender or would she be more important to USF1 from the publicity and sponsorship angle?

Peter Windsor:
I don't really know that much about Danica other than what I saw when she was racing FRenault in the UK. She was pretty good there, high midfield - maybe not as quick as the James Courtneys of this world, but not bad, so any evaluation one makes about her would be done on what she did based in Europe. She's obviously got a feel for single-seaters but, as I say, we're looking at everybody.

Crash.net:
The US A1GP team has run a few up-and-coming American drivers - has that operation had any impact on USF1, or are you keeping yourselves entirely separate from that?

Peter Windsor:
One obvious thing that came out of that was Jonathan Summerton, who is very, very good. To win at Shanghai, as he did, was very impressive I thought. We know that he's up there with the Adam Carrolls of this world, and Adam is extremely quick and should be in F1. We also know that Jonathan is a Sebastien Buemi-paced driver because he was Buemi's team-mate in German F3, so he's a guy that's obviously got a massive amount of potential - but it shows how Americans are at the moment that, in a magazine out at the moment, he's not even in the top twelve American drivers - behind some drag racers and hot rod racers. But, to my mind, if you've won an international event like Shanghai A1GP, you've got to be very, very good - and Jonathan Summerton is very good.

Crash.net:
You alluded that you were looking at the Honda engine supply that Super Aguri had, and certain reports have linked you to a 'customer engine deal' that has already been sorted. Presumably that would be with a manufacturer already involved in F1?

Peter Windsor:
We haven't sorted a deal, but obviously we will be supplied by one of the manufacturers already in F1, that's the way it's going to go and we will be talking to manufacturers in the near future about that. There's always the Cosworth engine option as well but, for the first time ever, the engine situation is not that massively significant when you're putting together an F1 team. It used to be the lynchpin around which you launched a team and put everything together - if you had an engine deal, then you had a team. Okay, you needed wind tunnel as well but, if you had the engine deal, you were halfway there. Now, the engine isn't the last thing, but it's certainly lower on the list when you're putting a team together.

Crash.net:
Ken Anderson's F1 experience is from a little way back - has he been keeping in touch with current technology and current ideas, or is he going to assemble a team that will help him produce that latest-spec F1 car?

Peter Windsor:
Ken is going to be the head of the engineering department of this team, and I think he'll do an absolutely superb job of doing the car and operating the car. Proof of that is the Windshear windtunnel, which he designed and built in just under nine months and well under budget. It's been acclaimed as the best windtunnel in F1 - and in the racing world, in fact. Although it's not an F1 car, it's nonetheless an incredibly difficult thing to design and build well, as we've seen by the number of problems that all the F1 teams have had with their own tunnels. To do a full-size tunnel, and bring it in as accurately as he has, is testament to his ability and knowledge.

Crash.net:
How important, at this stage of the programme, is sponsorship and financing going to be? Is there money in place, or is it entirely dependent on you finding funding?

Peter Windsor:
By about March-April, we will be about where all the other F1 teams are relative to 2010. Obviously, some of them have ongoing rolling contracts with sponsors, others will be looking at their 2010 incomes in March-April 2009, and that's about where we are. Yes, there will be less money around but, if you assume that the pool out there will be reduced by about 30-40 per cent, there is still 60 per cent out there. We'll have our own character around which [sponsors] may or may not be interested in working with us - we'll be an American team operating on a global platform - but, equally, other F1 teams have other great stories to tell. McLaren, Ferrari, BMW are what they are, and we'll be what we are but, certainly, it is my view that, in the recession, it is the very, very powerful sports like F1 that will continue to, not only survive, but thrive, because the two elements you need are to be a global sport and to be very highly televised. If you have those two elements, most companies that spend money on sports sponsorship are going to be out there working with partners, and I think F1 will survive.

Crash.net:
What response have you had from the FIA and Formula One Management? Have you lodged an entry for 2010, or is that something else that is a little way down the line?

Peter Windsor:
That's something we can talk about on 24 February, but the response from the FIA and FOM has been fantastic, very supportive from both sides. Both of them have known about this project for some time now.

Crash.net:
Finally, in a nutshell, what will USF1 bring to Formula One?

Peter Windsor:
All we can do is follow our heart and our passion, and we want to build an F1 team, we want to do it differently, we want to prove that a car can be designed and built in the United States and compete on the world stage - and then, beyond that, we want to win. There's no doubt about that. Ken's won a lot of races and a lot of championships, I've been fortunate enough to be a part of F1 teams that have won championships as well, and that is our goal. There's no question that we want to win, but we want to win with a nice, small, compact team, with a minimum of people, very much in the way that Lockheed run their secret skunk works operation that produced so many great planes such as the Stealth over the last 30-40 years. That's going to be the modus operandi of this F1 team - we're going to be small, lean, mean, but we're going to have a lot of fun, and always have smiles on our faces - which is probably going to make us very different from most other F1 teams.

Listen to the full interview with Peter Windsor HERE

 

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