The end of the American dream

There are reports from multiple sources that the US F1 team has shut up shop. There has been no hope of getting a car to Bahrain for some weeks but the team principals have been unwilling to admit defeat. It remains to be seen whether or not the team’s shareholder will agree to sell the entry to Serbia’s Stefan GP but that is the only way that they are going to get any value out of the now-defunct team. If the team is declared insolvent it automatically loses its entry rights, so if a deal is to be struck it needs to be done now. The FIA is thought unlikely to agree to allow Stefan GP to enter the World Championship without buying the USF1 entry.

The news is a setback for Formula 1, which is keen to try to break into the US market, but at the same time the team was so lacking in credibility since the turn of the year that it is not unexpected news. What is slightly worrying is that our sources tell us that there were people willing to buy into the operation and save the day, but the existing shareholders were unwilling to give up control.

Whatever the case, the F1 dream in North Carolina is over.

30 thoughts on “The end of the American dream

  1. I think it is such a shame that Formula One and North America just can’t manage to gel properly. The ’05 USGP farce, Scott Speed being unceremoniously fired/quit and now USF1. What does it take to get Formula One into North America?

    Also, if the suggestion that neither Windsor or Anderson were in the factory when the news was relayed to the remaining team members, then perhaps the sport could do without these kind of people.

    It’s just a shame it happened to a squad that looked to finally combine a great motor-sporting nation with a great motor-sporting series.

  2. And to think Bernie’s traveling road show was ready to go without the FOTA teams last year amidst all the posturing. What a joke. Instead we saw the likes over the past 2 years of Honda, BMW and Toyota leave the sport….3 MAJOR manufacturers!

    Let’s face it, Virgin Racing, Campos-Hispania, Lotus, and USF1 were never, nor will they ever, bring what Honda, BMW and Toyota brought to the sport. Look at the Virgin car….it can’t even complete laps without wings flying off the car. Thank God old Richie’s planes don’t do that.

  3. That is sad news, especially the last bit. I wish the enterprise could have worked because like it or not, the US market would be a blessing to F1. I doubt any other attempts will succeed within 5 years for either a team or a GP unless Bernie buys a circuit in the US or a big established US brand name team were to have a go at F1. I doubt they ever would simply because of the scale of economics being so out of touch with that of Nascar.

  4. For us hardcore US fans this is a major blow.
    To be honest it just didn’t seem to make sense to set up
    shop in North Carolina. There needs to be a US team based in England!
    Why can’t we have more interest in motor racing instead of this desperately sad spectacle they call NASCAR in this country.
    USF1’s silence over the last few weeks has been frustrating and just leads to uncertainty which can’t be good for potential investment. The whole thing makes me sick.
    Time to make a deal Chad?
    USF1 gone without as much as turning a wheel.
    Over and out Mr. Windsor.

  5. good riddens! two principals way past their sell-by-date who had yet to learn that self-glorifing press releases (1) are not bankable, and (2) no one remembers yesterday’s headlines

  6. Im still not buying into the claims that USF1 was going to be good for F1 in the US in general. Would a team running around way off the pace challenging only the other no-hopers (and getting lapped multiple times a race) generate any interest in the land where a glorified version of dodgems is the only form of motorsport that receives any mainstream attention?

    I cant see it myself, if anything an uncompetitive team would have done as much harm as good.

  7. I did call it from day one listening to reports from are friends in America, but I bowed down to your reasoning:

    “Its not a case of whether they will be on the grid, but will they be there at the finish”.

    Ah well it’s neither.

  8. It’s such a shame, but they have at least convinced me the US does have the talent to bring a team to F1! But doesn’t yet have the leaders needed to follow it through. Damn, Virgin or Lotus will be last now 😦

  9. Joe,

    Do we know what the Concorde Agreement says about bankruptcy events? Can they bring in a receiver or make their own assignment into bankruptcy without scuttling their entry?

    If so, given that the entry is the only asset the team has which is worth anything, the receiver would almost certainly try to sell it, to the extent that is possible. But in order for that to happen in time for Stefan to get to Bahrain, even if it’s possible, the receiver would have to come in and the entry be sold in the next 48 hours…

    Doesn’t sound likely…

  10. That’s sad new, though not surprising.

    Unfortunately that white car on top of the page is not a good sign for ‘CH F1’ either. Joe, do you know if Sauber will have any sponsorship on the car in Bahrain? And when will they be allowed to drop BMW from its name?

  11. What a shame. Or sham? Not really sure, I’m very disappointed in Peter Windsor. I always thought highly of him (even though others don’t seem to) but the complete lack of communication from someone who was previously a reporter is quite disappointing.

    It’s a funny thing though, I work in communication and most people in this industry and TERRIBLE communicators! 🙂

  12. No USGP to even race their own cars at.

    Maybe if Dallara wants to setup shop for F1, it can in Gasoline Alley here at Indy and test the F1 car at Indy.

    Bernie wanted $30m from Tony G., but cuts deals to european races for sub-$20m. WTF?!

    Heck, had a USGP or two, the manufacturers probably would’ve stayed. But noooo.

  13. I must say that I find it the behaviour of Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson deeply irresponsible and highly unprofessional. If it is true that they weren’t even present at the meeting where the employees were being laid off (according to Autosport reports), it is downright indecent and shows embarrassing cowardice on their part. If true, that would prove their communication and posts on USGPE.com, regarding their progress, as intellectually offending as I thought it was.

    Judging from the almost comical YouTube footage of the “factory” tour, I never had any doubts that this thing was never ever going to happen. But that it should end in this sad way, is beyond my imagination.

    I’m left with one big question: what exactly was their game plan? From the apparent lack of any coherent plan they surely must have known how unfeasible this project was. And as reported above, they weren’t even out to make a quick buck selling the team slot!?!

    Maybe they are just as naive and managerially incompetent as they have come across lately.

  14. Why am I reminded of one of the final scenes of “Lawrence of Arabia” where Lawrence is busily writing in an empty room after all the Arab delegations leaves the place in tatters. Still holding onto the dream of a United Arab State, he is still speaks as if they were still a legitimate entity when in fact it he alone in a room surrounded by a sea of anarchy while the British let the revolt fail.

    I can picture Ken Anderson in a similar light right now. Alone in a empty shop, still drawing designs as the phone rings endlessly in the background.

    The FIA needs to step in and finish this for good. This has already gone way too far.

  15. Joe,

    Lots of “dreams”, but not lots of “American” in this project. I know the post-mortems have only begun, but what did Americans expect from a team with an English front man (Windsor) and an Argentine driver (Lopez), competing in a sport that never touches US soil?

    Corporate America had no interest in getting behind USF1. It is noteworthy that F1 has very few American corporations involved, despite its global reach. Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Microsoft are but a few of the corporations that are huge, globally, but absent from F1.

    USF1 fared no better. Although Chad Hurley was involved with Youtube, he sold his shares to Google. I cannot think of a single technology company in the US that wanted to become involved (at least publicly) in F1. Although HP and Compaq sponsored Williams, those deals ended years ago. Apple, Dell and others have not gotten involved in the sport.

    So “USF1” turned out to be something of a chimera. I still believe that the team should have linked up with established F1 veterans who are well known in America (Andretti, Gurney, Penske). This could have raised the profile a bit. Perhaps Windsor is too low key; I don’t know him or Ken Anderson and cannot presume to speak for them. However, there appears to be a lot of ill will on all sides. All in all, not F1’s best moment.

  16. What is slightly worrying is that our sources tell us that there were people willing to buy into the operation and save the day, but the existing shareholders were unwilling to give up control.

    The more I read about USF1’s demise the more it seems that the management were clueless.

    Surely 10% of something is worth more than 100% of nothing?

  17. And yet the latest issue of Road & Track, which was delivered to my bathroom reading pile just a few days ago, has a long fluff piece – written by Sam Posey, no less – on how swimmingly things were going at USF1.

    FAO FIA:

    Peter Windbag + Dancing Cat Internet $$$ Guy != Prodrive

  18. As bad as this is for F1 in the US, it’s probably better than having USF1 turn up to the first few rounds then pull out (I know that wasn’t a scenario that was possible in recent months).

  19. I wrote on these comments months ago that I thought USF1 had the chance to be the worst entry since Lola’s (one failure to qualify) attempt in the 90s.
    How wrong I was.
    At least Lola got both cars to the track. The whole operation has been an unmitigated shambles. There are clearly inefficiencies to running out of Charlotte, instead of perhaps Northampton, but what exactly has Mr Hurley got for his 20 million dollars? A carbon fibre tub? Nice.

  20. Joe,

    Has there been any public word from Peter Windsor in the past weeks?

    Reports from North Carolina suggested Windsor was a fleeting presence, little more than a figurehead. I thought this quite strange given his singular prominence in the early days of the organization.

    How do you think Windsor will be received when he eventually returns to the paddock? His stock must have dropped precipitously. Given this terribly public, embarrassing, and complete failure, one wonders if Windsor’s days of working in and around the sport have come to a complete end.

  21. I for one am very dissappointed. when news arrived of a new team that Peter windsor was heading it was big news in Australian motorsport media. from my media perception of him he seems a nice guy who is passionate about motorsport and F1 in particular. passionate enough to have a very big go at putting an F1 team together. not something you take on lightly.
    Nonetheless its a tough world and it hasn’t come off. i was looking forward to seeing them on the grid in Melbourne…….. oh well life goes on

  22. It’s about time something was done to resolve this. I wonder what Charlie Whiting’s report of last week’s visit to USF1 reads like.

    According to Autosport.com, USF1 are asking the FIA to defer their entry until 2011.

    Why?

    They have had a year in which to sort this out, why would anyone believe they can manage it in another year?

  23. Peter Windsor has always struck me as too much thunder and too little lightning.

    This project, ultimately was all words and promises. And no product.

    What it does teach us though, is

    a) England is currently the most viable region to start a f1 team
    b) Manor and Lotus did a hell of a job even getting a car together, much less one within 5s of the ferrari’s and mclaren’s of the world
    c) Writing turgid prose in an irrelevant magazine is a hell of a lot easier than running an f1 team!

  24. Way to go Max and Bernie –

    BMW, Toyota, Renault (in effect) out;
    Hispania, Virgin, Lotus, Stefan (?) in.

  25. Reading the posted comments you’d think there are literally thousands of well-qualified team principles with actual experience and knowledge of starting an F1 team from scratch (some of these individuals are even posting their thoughts…huh). It appears that, though most of the people knew right away how much of a failure USF1 was going to be, they themselves have never undertaken an project of such magnitude, but are still qualified to speculate on the whys, hows and WTFs of USF1.

    …And that it’d have just been easier to try it somewhere else.

    This is not effective, constructive nor helpful. I was personally very excited to have a team with some tangible elements to it someplace I could actually visit. When an opportunity to work in N.C. came up I took it (for the money) but almost simultaneously I realized I’d be closer to USF1. So now I’m disappointed, and despite the negative ‘I told you so’ responses, some people still wanted this idea to work out.

    It was never ‘destined’ to fail. It just did. And I’ll still support the next damn fool who tries it in the future.

  26. @Ben G
    Yup, couldn’t agree more. Without the dropping of the bond, and bringing an independent engine supplier in the grid would be very small indeed. Ferrari vs McLaren!

    Thank god Max saw the manufacturers for what they are 😮

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