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USF1 confirms European base in Spain
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USF1 confirms European base in Spain
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Oct 2009   |  3:41 pm GMT  |  41 comments

USF1, one of four new teams coming into the sport next season, has today confirmed what it has been saying privately for some time, that it will have its European base in Motorland, Aragon, in Spain.

“MotorLand Aragon is the ideal motorsports complex for US F1’s European operation,” said Peter Windsor, executive vice president and sporting director of US F1. “From the excellent location and weather, to the rich racing heritage and diverse track configurations, MotorLand provides America’s first Formula One team in more than 40 years with the perfect facility to manage the 2010 season and train for 2011 and beyond.”

Technology park is to the right

Technology park is to the right

US F1 will have its main R&D and manufacturing base in the US, but plans to have departments for testing, rebuilds, logistics and communications in Spain.

Motorland is almost equidistant between Barcelona and Madrid.

MotorLand has three circuit layouts, a technology park and kart track as well as other entertainment attractions. Like most modern circuits it was designed by Hermann Tilke, although McLaren F1 driver Pedro De la Rosa was a consultant on the project.

Testing is very limited nowadays in F1 and individual tests are not on the agenda any more. Over the winter and into next season there will be even less testing than 2008/09, with a young driver test in November and then nothing more until the new cars come out in February.

FOTA is considering having a group new car launch in late January early February to create a big media event and to save costs for all the teams. It is taking soundings at the moment on how this would work with media schedules. My own view is that the smaller teams would get less airtime and coverage than they do at the moment. The teams could do a lot more online, including launching cars.

What do you think? Should they leave it as it is with teams launching cars alone or should they do a single launch event? Let me have your comments and I will forward them to FOTA.

The Motorland website is at www.motorlandaragon.com/index.aspx?lang=GB

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41 Comments
  1. Paul says:

    Single launch event please. On a weekend. I’d happily go along to somewhere sunny (in Europe) for a long weekend.

    And spend money on the latest kit, or on sponsor events…

    A mini F1 paddock and some good car demos please.

    How about a Saturday launch and a Sunday testing day?

    Massa doing donuts (driving, not serving).

    Mandate the drivers to do a good set of autograph signing so no-one leaves disappointed.

    Simulator drives (not the real ones, but some are fun)

    Passenger rides by lottery in the Merc safety car.

    Pit lane tours, open access.

    Paul Ricard would be nice. Or Spain. Monza would be lovely…

    Sorry, I’ll wake up now. Please FOTA make it fun…

  2. James, I’d be interested to know your views on USF1′s chances for 2010 and beyond.

    History shows that unless you’re Ferrari, locating your team outside of the UK doesn’t usually lead to success.

    The main F1 knowledge base is in the UK, and locating your team outside of it usually means that you have to pay a premium to attract the right staff.

    In fact, I can think of only two non-UK based teams that have won a WDC or WCC in F1 in the sport’s history – and one of those was Ferrari.

    Can USF1 hope to break this pattern? So far, I’ve heard a lot of jingoistic noise from them, but little evidence that they have the right people, especially in the aero field, onboard.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well it’s a good question and you’d have to say that it looks tricky, but a US team which does well would be a great asset for F1, just as a Japanese driver who is competitive would be helpful.

  3. bob.s says:

    James I sort of agree with …In the need to save money etc it’s a good idea but as you say the big teams will get all the coverage along probably with tne new boys but the others will lose out a bit

    On the other hand if some one comes up with some thing radical the other teams can’t react to it

    some major one upmanship could be on the cards
    if were lucky

  4. El Shish says:

    The motivation behind the notion of one combined launch is cost. Cost restrictions are often the best breeding grounds for creativity. Let them try and make waves and stand out from the crowd in a different way. The launches, if you are not actually there, appear to be quite bland affairs. The only launch that stood out from the crowd last year was the Red Bull 3D rendered animation. It was simply stunning! Ten months on and it’s still a joy to watch. How often can that be said of the other launches.

  5. Dave Cameron says:

    I really hope they do go with the single launch event…just think of the tension it would build, to have all the drivers and teams line up alongside each other showing off their 2010 offerings and being able to talk a big game without having to prove anything or even provide proof that they’ll be the best…

    I cant say I’ve ever been a fan of the online launch. I am pretty much ‘connected’ 24/7 these days, but an F1 launch online sounds too heartless and F1 marketing does still come across a bit tacky at times when it comes to these virus things.

    Only way to avoid the minnows getting less media coverage is to hold 2 launch shows, and split the teams up equally between the two (e.g. Ferrari on one show, McLaren on the other), so both get equal attention and with less teams being unveiled the smaller teams get more room to speak up?

  6. New teams, and USF1 in particular, have done a pretty mediocre job at promoting themselves during their embryonic stages. They have failed at grasping the power of social media to create a positive image and much-needed awareness of their emerging brand. USF1′s Twitter and blog updates are quite paltry in comparison to those of the established teams. Here in the U.S., Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson have had a few high-profile mentions in national newspapers and cable TV, but their brand is not known outside insider circles, and die-hard F1 fans.

    With that in mind, FOTA’s proposal of having a group launch seems myopic. FOTA can produce a launch for established media outlets, helping these new teams obtain appropriate coverage for their brands. But the new teams must produce their own launch and use social media to generate enthusiasm for their upcoming debut. Much of the early enthusiasm goodwill will be obtained thanks to grassroots efforts, and thus far they have failed to foster it within us fans–especially USF1 here in America.

    I really have a hard time putting into words these new teams’ failure to foster fan relationships. A Webcast-only launch would go a long way.

  7. BIll Gibbon says:

    Hi James,

    I think the idea of a joint launch is a good one. Apart from the money savings, if it could match a Motor Show or TopGear live type event, with tickets sold to punters who could travel to a realistic venue, it could even make money for FOTA!

    It would also be nice, if it was co-ordinated, that a decent and accurate pre-season guide could be on sale at or shortly after the event – nice opportunity for a half decent journalist?

  8. Michael Grievson says:

    A group launch sounds great. It should be at a track or arena. Changing venue every year and open to the public. A big event where there would be great atmostpgere. Everyone should get equal stage time however

  9. Ahmed Youssef says:

    Its always quite exciting to read about the individual car launches. Surely it generates interest over a longer period of time than one large launch would (where the main news story would probably be about teams pulling together to save costs – not a very exciting story).

  10. Ray.C. says:

    I’m usually dribbling with anticipation by late January, trawling through F1 news to find out who is launching what,when…and what colour is it?(Ironically, I’m a Ferrari fan).

    If it was possible to give all teams equal exposure, then an “F1 Season Launch Event” would be a great idea.Maybe a televised event?
    Stade de France/Wembley or even Silverstone.
    Go Gladiatorial – Warriors and their weapons.

    It would create a deadline by which teams were required to be “good to go”, give fans and media (and rivals??) an opportunity to see all the cars side by side.
    A late January/early Feb launch could also be co-ordinated with F1 Racing magazine’s Season Preview.
    From a FOTA point of view, it would also symbolise their unity and remind the world who the real stars of the show are.
    I say if it’s do-able, give it a shot.

    P.S. James,
    If FOTA is interested in fans input, then this fan would like to see a bigger differentiation in liveries. More Block colours, less white.
    Hopefully RedBull/Torro Rosso will update their liveries in 2010, Maybe complete yellow nose/RB,red nose/TR.

  11. Mario says:

    I think a mass launch would be a good idea, especially if it was done in a form of a motor-show where teams would have their own designated areas to show their new cars. People would simply go from one to another looking around and comparing different cars at the same time. Obviously it should be open to the public, free of charge preferably, to give more people a chance to see cars first hand.
    It does not stop teams to launch their cars online simultaneously.

  12. raffamuffin says:

    Hi,

    I think the teams should a giant ticketed event, allowing corporate sponsors and fans alike to see the cars. It gives the smaller teams opportunities to get new fans, introduce the drivers and the new cars. It also gives sponsors value for money as they get set up stalls much like vodophone etc do at grand prixs. Even better if this event could be held at the track, where each car is allowed to do 2 parade laps to show off the cars to the fans! It could be a day event which paid for itself. I’m sure Bernie could organise TV coverage where it covered the event and smaller teams could offer more tv access in return for airtime. If the major networks cover it as an event, at least the new teams launches don’t get relegated to a small article on autosport.

  13. Silas Denyer says:

    The testing ban is, frankly, laughable. You wouldn’t design and build a road car without extensive testing; why should “the pinnacle of motorsport” be different? And how can a ban on testing be compatible with a committment to make it easier for new entrants to come into F1, now and in the future? How do they build up their knowledge base or expertise?

    Limiting the cost of testing is, of course, another thing entirely. Banning private tests, limiting the number of team members involved, requiring some tests to be conducted with new-to-F1 drivers are all things I would applaud.

  14. raffamuffin says:

    On 2nd thoughts, each team having individual events would allow teams to get together with fans. Not to mention the logistical costs in setting up an event like this. Perhaps there should be a cap on the event costs so each team cannot “out do” the other! I think ultimately whether it is one event or many smaller events, I think ultimately teams should be looking to how they can connect with fans.

    Either with cheaper team membership schemes (it costs £60 + to join lewis or mclarens scheme!!) and merchandise so fans can afford to follow their teams, and also more opportunities for fans either to purchase access to events (allowing more corporate exposure and allowing fans better access to teams) – particularly for the smaller teams. A good global fanbase = a good revenue stream for the smaller teams.

  15. Spencer says:

    Single launch event….great! For a normal F1 fan (not an F1 freak), car unveilings are a bit of a non-entity, but a ‘Group Car Launch’ would be well worth tuning in for.

  16. Adam Taylor says:

    Initially i think that launching the cars all together would be good idea in order to save costs but like you said the smaller teams would recieve less air time. Teams such as Force India and USF1 would not find this beneficial as they need to raise their own profile in their respected companies in which they may choose to have their own launches. I believe that i think it was Toyota who launched their car online last year which was good and different compared to previous launches. A possible idea would be for the teams to launch at a circuit that would include a non-championship mini race in which was done in a way so that the teams could have equal air time.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Bang on with the idea of a non championship race, Adam. An old rant of mine is to get that back as everyone here has seen! If there is a group launch — and I think there should be — that has to be a part of it.

      Mandate a group launch/race combination naturally becomes a test session. So, following-on to Adam’s suggestion, there should be two (maybe three?) group test sessions including the same thing. This will help all the teams in both marketing and in development. Remember: Other major series (NASCAR, IRL) do group testing at Indy and Daytona in particular. Among the things they learn from doing so is the aero performance of the cars in traffic, following and overtaking other cars on both full and light fuel loads. McLaren might have had a much better handle on their aero problems, certainly sooner, had they been able to do this.

      Of course, there’s the issue of the Skunkworks-style secrecy the F1 teams have gotten used to. The don’t want to reveal anything about their cars to competitors. FOTA needs to wake up, come off of that attitude, and match actions to words in making F1 more accessible to, and better value for, the fans.

      Televise these test/race sessions. Cheap tickets. Mandatory autograph sessions. And run them on tracks not currently on the calendar. Simulcast them via streaming online video.

      Let’s see if FOTA will put up or shut up.

  17. Soeren says:

    I don’t care for car launches, no F1 fan gets to see anything live, thus there is also rather little value for the sponsors. I’d rather do a demo run in a big city between the tests in February after they’ve sorted the first teething problems. Perhaps in the home country of the reigning WDC?

  18. John Snow says:

    A big launch day sounds excellent, to be honest the launches are pretty rubbish at the moment. But I think it will be unworkable, teams will want to finish their cars at different times.

  19. Christian says:

    I’d like to see a single launch event. They should make a big show out of it with all 13 cars and al drivers. Maybe they can broadcast it on TV, it might get a much better audience than any event for one team alone.
    They could propably still do their little presentations in front of the garage at the first day of testing, those can’t cost that much.

  20. Vinod says:

    I agree with you that smaller teams will not get much coverage in a group launch. Also in a group setup I don’t think two teams would want to launch at the same time… who will the audience listen to? So if you schedule one after another in a day or two, it would get tedious.

    F1 being so cutting edge, online launches with live webcast is the way to go.

    Besides, the group launch idea almost sounds like an automobile trade show!

  21. Bill Nuttall says:

    With regards to testing I’d like to see the Thursday of the race weekend back as a testing day, with a twist: only allow specialist testing drivers to sit at the wheel. That way young up-and-coming drivers would get a chance to learn how to drive an F1 car and show what they’re made of, and when they do get the chance to race they won’t be completely out of their depth like Grosjean clearly is now.

  22. Kai says:

    I totally think that on-line coverage is the way to go for everyone concerned. On that note is there any chance of you doing some of your race commentary and reporting as a podcast? Huh James? Is there any chance? :D

    PS. Like your blog a lot

  23. Lee R says:

    I think it should be individual. The 3/4 month off season is horrible for F1 fans and the only thing we have to look forward to is car launches and testing times – if you lump all the car launches together it will really make the winter feel long.

    I think F1 teams can save lots of money by being sensible about the launch, but still provide fans multiple launches to look forward to.

    With regards to launching online – this is a good idea, however they need to do a better job than Toyota did last year. Last year their site crashed because millions of people wanted to watch it and they didn’t have enough bandwidth so the site crashed for around two hours – which was very silly, not to mention short sighted.

  24. monktonnik says:

    One launch show, held at a track (or well connected city) with 3 untimed display laps for each car running in “aero test mode” (or an agreed maximum speed to avoid anyone binning the car). A similar thing to the old one lap qualifying. All the cars should be driven by The Stig. At least he wont give away any secrets!

    Televised if possible but definately kangaroo tv at the venue for spectators.

    The track/venue should be decided as tne one with the best access for fans with hotels etc.

    The launch should be one display, with each team allowed to present their new car for a set period of time. In addition each team should have a media pitch (all the same size) similar to a trade show, with the team principal senior engineers and drivers available to the public/press.

  25. John says:

    I like the idea of all cars being launched at the same time instead of some in early January and some not until a few days before the first race. Whether it’s at a single event or not matters less to me.

  26. Fausta says:

    Yes a group launch event would be a great idea, especially if the cars were also running either some non championship race or at least some testing. Not only seeing the cars and hearing the hype, but watching them in action as well.
    Something along this line would be nice!

  27. Jodum5 says:

    If done right, a group launch could be great. Especially if they tried to model it a bit with an international car show angle to it. They should also make it open to the public. With key team personnel available for fan and media Q&A.

  28. Chris says:

    I like the launches done separately, team by team. Especially now, with no testing the off-season seems too long. This way, at least there is something to look forward to over a period of a month or so. If they did it all at the same time, it would have a bigger splash, but then what? I’m surprised they don’t just legislate a single launch date to make it “fair”. There are rules for everything else.

  29. DK says:

    A group launch weekend will be nice. Cars can be rolled out motor show style and the drivers can do the shakedown of the new cars the following day. The event should be televised as part of the F1 franchise. I guess the challenge will be finding the suitable venue and time, considering some teams may not have their cars ready until the last minute.

  30. Darren says:

    what about new for old , Williams launch the new for 2010 car with Damon Hill in his world championship car also doing demo runs. Same with all the teams new car with driver and a historic car from there show room with a former world champion or race winning/main driver.would be a great history lesson for new fans.

    the new 2010 lotus against one of the JPS lotus from the 70′s … can see it now ;-)

  31. Buck says:

    Launch them all at the same time. With the money saved they could put back into making a really good show or festival of speed. Make it fun. Show off the new cars but especially show off what makes F1 cool and unique. Hold it at a tropical track. Hold it at Vegas with magicians revealing the cars in unexpected ways. Hold it in an indoor football stadium or in the Louvre. Have a classic/supercar auction like Speed TV’s Barrett Jackson. Have a concert festival. have cart races with famous drivers. Bring Senna, Evel Knievel and Elvis back from the dead. Whatever it takes. Just make people want to actually watch it. Ha ha.

    Probably my last post here this year. Thanks for putting together such a great site and for your great reporting and insights on a wild, roller-coaster year James. You no doubt had to work your ass off especially hard this year! Congratulations.

    1. James Allen says:

      The site will continue through the winter, plenty of content planned.

  32. Drewe says:

    Go the online Route – Toyota tried it a few years ago, but that way they can create a media buzz, have some people come to the event, but still do it was lower cost that hiring out the center of barcelona……

  33. Stu says:

    Seems an odd decision to base themselves in Spain, but then it’s alot cheaper than commuting back to the US all the time (especially in the peak european season) so I suppose it makes a degree of sense.

    I look forward to seeing what USF1, and the other 3 new teams, bring to the sport.

  34. Geoff says:

    They already do a group launch event. It’s called the first race of the season.

    There is no need for teams to do these fancy pre-season launch shows at all.

    If the teams want to spend money on them, then that is their own choice. Fortunately there are no points awarded for “Best fireworks” or “Most dancing girls”.

  35. grat says:

    I’m in favor of online launches to start the buzz, but then an “official” Formula-1 Event to roll the cars out, possibly including practice sessions, interviews, etc.

    I still think the “one size fits all” approach to “cost savings” is ridiculous. What saves Ferrari money may not even be an expense for USF1 or Force India, or could be hugely expensive for Campos or McLaren (team names largely random). For example, the factory closure debacle this summer that most teams agree cost them money in overtime to make up the lost time.

    If this were a gaming system, you’d be allocated a set amount of “research points” that you could spend as appropriate– one team might need to test new drivers, another might need wind tunnel testing, and a third might need a few extra aero runs. Take the idea a step further, it might be a way to encourage established teams to assist new teams– but that’s just crazy talk.

  36. Cliff says:

    James,
    The principle is good but I think a number of Team Sponsors may question whether they will get Value for money, especially with the media concentrating on the top teams. I do however think that FOTA should hold a pre-season test session similar to the one held in Moto GP where prizes are up for grabs and the general public are invited. This could be held in January. It would also give the teams to try new things prior to the season opener in March.

  37. Grinder says:

    I think a joint launch would be a great event for fans, bring what can be quite a distant sport a bit closer to those who really love it. I imagien this as a bit oif fun – A cross between NBA All Star and the Race of Champions in an an arena with fans cheering and fireworks, firing.

    The argument against this just doesn’t stack up. Sponsors being unhappy? I dont think so, there wodul be lots of opportunity or local activation-Hospitality, simulators competitions etc. Also, I can’t remember any team other then Ferrari or the team who won the last WC getting any coverage at all… and even then it was pretty sparse outside the specialist press.

    In terms of media coverage I’d guess it won’t change anything in the specialist press-Those who have a story will get good (or bad)coverage, those who don’t will get some perfunctory coverage. As someone sadi above it would be awesome to see a season launch issue of Autosport though with all the cars compared and contrasted.

    If this goes onto TV I’d definetly watch -Especially if Beyonce is coming down from the roof swinging on a glitterball. Glamour, Girls and F1 cars? What’s not to love!

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