One year ago, Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor announced their intentions to launch USF1 based in Charlotte, NC and race in the 2010 Formula One World Championship with a chassis built in America. My recollection from following their initial press conferences and interviews was that they told us that the team and car had been in the works for years and the foundation of the team was well along. Looking back, I think us fans were a bit naive to believe Ken and Peter's story about the team's actual progress.
Following my earlier blog entry about the possible failure of USF1 to complete their car and reach the grid in Bahrain for the start of the F1 season, a tweet appeared on the official USF1 twitter page that stated simply - "The US F1 Team web server is down and is being repaired as this is written. We are not gone, as many have reported. More news soon." Since than, their website has returned however no new information has been added since late January.
Today, after nearly a week of negative press and media reports about the team's demise, founder Ken Anderson spoke to the New York Times and admitted that the team lost some of its sponsorship funding and will not have the car ready in time for the season opener in Bahrain. He has requested permission from the FIA to miss the first 4 Grand Prixs of the season (Bahrain, Australia, China and Malaysia).
While the FIA is highly unlikely to approve such a request, this seems to be USF1's only hope of launching their car in 2010. Adding to the complexity of the situation, another new F1 team is waiting in the wings and ready to go with their new car should an opening come available in the FIA approved team lineup for the season. Stefan GP, based in Serbia is supposedly going to be ready to race with the ex-Toyota developed 2010 chassis.
Personally, I have been a huge supporter of the USF1 team and their concept of building a F1 car in America for the last 12 months however at this point, I am finding it hard to support Anderson considering the situation they have got themselves in. They knew the rules and that they had to be ready for the first race of the season. They said they would have 1 or 2 American drivers and they have none. They don't have any likely options on experienced F1 drivers at all now and I don't see how they can develop a car with rookie drivers. They are asking for an exception from the rules which isn't likely to build much support or respect from fellow teams. Finally, if a team is going to build an American car to compete on the world stage - I want a competitive, first class, ass kicking effort; not some fledgling amateur operation that embarrasses the United State's name.
It will be interesting to see what transpires over the next week. However I expect USF1 is just about done with their dream and the 2010 F1 grid will feature 22 or so cars including two or three new teams without our friends in Charlotte.
UPDATE: SpeedTV Formula 1 commentator Bob Varsha weighed in on the status of USF1 on Sunday's Speed News report and Windtunnel. Check out the video from Speed News below.