April 13, 2014

USF1 Redux?

A few years ago, there was an attempt to start an American Formula 1 team.  To be called USF1, it was a project from Peter (Smarmy) Windsor, former Williams and Ferrari manager, and Ken Anderson, a former NASCAR technical director.  It failed miserably, never completing a chassis, never turning a wheel, suffering from mismanagement and funding impossibilities. 

But yet, why couldn't there be an American F1 team?  It's not like there's any lack of technical ability here in the States, nor any shortage of cash or driving skill.  What is needed is a competent management staff with active ties to the racing world.

Those of us longing for an American F1 team on the grid may have just had our wishes granted.  NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner Gene Haas, longtime motorsports guy, just had his application to join the F1 grid in 2015 approved by the FIA.  The team, tentatively called Haas Racing Developments, may be based in North Carolina, home of Stewart-Haas Racing, the NASCAR team.

Very few details exist as of yet outside of what I've just mentioned.  As usual, the thought is that there'll be an all-American driver lineup, which while admirable, is also wrong for a new team.  Currently, the number of active American drivers with Formula 1 experience beyond a few testing laps is limited to one: Scott Speed.  What a team needs is someone who knows how a F1 car should feel so the pit wall can make it feel that way.  Scott Speed, while American, was nobody's idea of a testing genius.  No, there should be at least one driver with serious F1 history on the team, and that means foreign... and preferably someone with financial backing of their own, sad to say.  The two things any team needs is skill and money, and a new team needs a lot of both.

I'm not going to get excited yet.  It'll be too easy for this venture to fail the way USF1 did.  I'm much more encouraged by the people involved, but they don't even have an engine lined up yet.  My guess is that they'll have the new Honda powerunit, but who knows?  I'd really like to see this succeed, though.  I'd love to root for a team again.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:53 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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1 SAE runs a mini formula contest, which has some fairly solid American teams competing in it.

Posted by: PatBuckman at April 14, 2014 09:20 AM (+LcKg)

2 They should try to poach Romain Grosjean.  Most of the talented drivers with recent F1 experience are securely ensconced within mid-field or better teams, with little reason to take the leap to a new, unproven entry.  But with Lotus's ongoing implosion, Grosjean is one of the few quick drivers who might plausibly be obtainable.

Posted by: flatdarkmars at April 14, 2014 04:22 PM (0h1CL)

3 Looks like they have the right general idea (emphasis on "someone who’s familiar with the current engine package rules"):
"Haas want 'experienced driver plus young American'"

Posted by: flatdarkmars at April 14, 2014 04:26 PM (0h1CL)

4 The Haas guy is apparently partly responsible for Haas CNC machines. There is a Haas CNC mill that had a warning I love on it.

Something like '...tool changer will move in and crush your hand.' Simple, brutal, and to the point.

The noises they are making sound like 'we are responsible and capable', but I've hardly the background to understand the F1 context. And doing one thing well never automatically translates into doing a different thing well. Plus, I should be more gullible than the sort of talent and money they are going to want to attract.

I am interested in seeing what comes of this, thanks for pointing it out to me.

Posted by: PatBuckman at April 14, 2014 07:10 PM (+LcKg)

5 They should try to poach Romain Grosjean.

Carbon fiber is expensive.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 14, 2014 08:52 PM (wtPN+)

6 They should try to poach Romain Grosjean.

Doesn't look very appealing to me.

Wish they would locate in Texas.  They could use Toyota engines.  Or Ford, I guess.

Posted by: Ben at April 14, 2014 11:10 PM (Oftf2)

7 Pat, when it comes to no BS warning signs, I rather like the one stenciled on the landing gear door of the 787:


And yeah, having seen it in action, they aren't kidding.

Posted by: Mauser at April 15, 2014 01:59 AM (TJ7ih)

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