DETROIT (Reuters) - The founders of a proposed all-American Formula One team unveiled plans to enter the sport in 2010 Tuesday while remaining sketchy about where the funding would come from.
“We always wanted to do our own team our way,” Peter Windsor, a journalist and former Williams team manager who will assume the role of USF1 sporting director, told a live audience on Speed TV.
“It sounds very arrogant perhaps but we have got some history, we have some things we want to bring into the sport.”
Windsor is partnered in the project by American Ken Anderson, a race engineer with experience in both F1 and Indycar. The plan is to build and design a car in America to be raced by American drivers.
“We set some unbelievable steep hills to climb in a recession,” said Windsor. “But we’re now two guys that can say we’re going to do a Formula One team because we’ve got the capital to do it.”
While the U.S. has a rich past in Formula One, with world champions in Phil Hill and Mario Andretti, the sport has abandoned the country in recent years.
There are no American drivers competing in the championship and no races in North America after the U.S. and Canadian Grands Prix were dropped from the calendar.
Windsor and Anderson conceded that the global economic crisis had added to the enormous challenge but said it had also opened up opportunities for new start-ups, with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) determined to introduce cost-cutting measures.
Formula One teams have already agreed on significant cost cutting measures for 2009 but the International Automobile Federation (FIA) wants teams to be able to compete for around 50 million euros ($64.07 million) a year from 2010.
“To some extent the recession has helped us a bit,” said Windsor.
“The fact we’re in a recession means people actually listen to us now and take us seriously because what we are saying adds up.
“If you combine the way the FIA have approached the recession, the way they’ve changed how a new team can get into Formula One, the cost of starting up a new team is dramatically different.
“Forget those days, forget the $100 million budgets, forget the $30 million retainers for drivers.”
Anderson said USF1 would be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the heart of NASCAR country, but offered few concrete details about the team’s financial backing.
In the build-up to Tuesday’s announcement there had been considerable speculation over who might drive for the team, with Indycar favorite Danica Patrick linked to a move before she dismissed the talk as speculation.
Other names mentioned, include second generation racers Graham Rahal, Conor Daly and Marco Andretti as well as NASCAR’s Kyle Busch, Scott Speed and A.J. Allmendinger, who finished third in last weekend’s Daytona 500.
“There are NASCAR drivers out there who I really think if they want to switch to Formula One we could groom them and help them make that change,” said Windsor.
“Kyle Busch, what a great star he would be, Formula One would welcome anything like that. Danica Patrick is another name who would have to be considered for what she has achieved.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.