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FIA throws the book at USF1
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FIA throws the book at USF1
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jun 2010   |  9:54 pm GMT  |  55 comments

The FIA has taken very firm action against the USF1 team, which failed to make the grid this season as one of the new teams. They have been heavily fined and disqualified from competing in any FIA championship.


The action was brought by FIA president Jean Todt, but judged by a separate Judging body under Graham Stoker. This is a departure from the old disciplinary system under Max Mosley, who was both prosecutor and judge in cases like the Flavio Briatore Singapore case.

The new Judging Body of the World Motor Sport Council imposed some heavy sanctions against USF1, “a fine of 309,000 euros (a sum equivalent to the Entry Fees for the Championship); the disqualification of USF1 (which definitively deprives USF1 of the right to take part, in any way whatsoever, in any competition); and the payment of the costs incurred by the FIA within the context of this disciplinary procedure.”

The door has been slammed firmly in USF1′s face.

The team was born from the enthusiasm of F1 journalist Peter Windsor, who joined forces with American engineer Ken Anderson. They got as far as they did because they managed to get investment from You Tube founder Chad Hurley, but failed to add enough additional sponsor funds, despite Hurley’s connections, to get the project ready in time for the start of the 2010 season.

The whole project seemed to be behind technically too from the outset. The team had been attracted by Max Mosley’s idea of a £30 million budget cap, but as the arguments over that dragged on through the summer of 2009, delaying the new Concorde Agreement, the team lost time waiting for the situation to clarify before committing itself fully. The team tried to argue that this constitued ‘force majeure’ but the Judging body was having none of it.

“The team, whilst well-intentioned, had displayed poor financial management and had underestimated the requirement to present an F1 car for the 2010 season in the time and with the financial resources available to them, ” said the FIA’s report. The team had got through the due diligence process imposed on all new teams by the FIA under former Mosley adviser Tony Purnell.

When it became clear that the team was not going to be ready for the start of the 2010 season, they tried to defer entry to 2011, but this was refused and the action launched, which culminated in this verdict.

“It was wholly unacceptable that the FIA was presented with only three weeks warning of the total non-appearance of the team at the Grand Prix in Bahrain and for the 2010 season, and WMSC members had real concerns about the impact on the championship, not least the deprivation of the opportunity for another team to have provided two cars to run in the championship in 2010 instead of US F1,” concluded the report.

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55 Comments
  1. TG says:

    If the FIA are going to act this arrogantly, how do they expect to attract any new teams. They leave entrants hanging around waiting to know whether they can join, when they could be spending that time developing their cars. Also, how can they deny force majeur – the situation with the Concorde Agreement was of the sport’s own making, not USF1′s.
    Besides, if they want to attract more professional outfits with better financial support why deny Dave Richards/Aston Martin? The FIA is not yet the logical, reasoning beast it should be despite the departure of Mad Max. Rant over.

    1. Tim says:

      Not sure if USF1 did not act arrogantly…remember some of THEIR comments, I for one wanted it to happened more then ever, no matter the FIA (who I rarely agree with) did what they should have…made an example out of them….

    2. Kinda sounds like there must be something else on the table that we’re not seeing but having said that: Seems there was more than enough “blame” to go around from the information in your article. I guess the old addage ‘because they can’ might be appropriate here. Doesn’t make the FIA look very good in the eyes of the public or with potential entries in the future, as pointed out above but we’ve seen enough that confirms the FIA doesent really care. More was expected of Todt’s administration from this side of the Pond. Wonder how difficult this will make it for the folks in Texas to get their F-1 track and program established. NASCAR needs to do more road racing.

      1. Dan says:

        “Kinda sounds like there must be something else on the table that we’re not seeing”

        Yup, the French being knocked out of the World Cup and “The Penguin” not knowing how to deal with that.

      2. BiggusJimmus says:

        I don’t how there can be any argument against the FIA on this one. If Americans want F1 they should do it properly. USF1 was, at least, an embarrassment. Surely there’s enough talent and cash floating around what is the wealthiest country in the history of civilisation to get a serious bid with real backing up and running.

      3. Richard Mee says:

        I don’t disagree with a word of any of the above. But the FIA must share at lease part of the blame for this no show – surely Tony Purnell was charged with the task of determining for absolutely bloody definite that 2 cars would make the grid come what may… their failure is therefore partly HIS failure and that of the FIA in turn. Especially, as has been said above, when teams run by figures such as Richards with manufacturer backing are literally banging the door down.

    3. TM says:

      I think the Prodrive comparison is an interesting one. Remember that they also failed to make the grid when they had a place for the 2008 championship. They failed because the rules on customer cars were not clarrified in time and the final decision went against Prodrive’s business model.

      But actually, this is almost exactly what has happened to USf1, but instead of being based on customer cars, they based their entry around the £30m budget cap, which took forever to be finalised, and when it was, went against USf1′s business model.

      So in a lot of way the FIA is to blame, but I don’t think that USF1s failure should be used as platform to say it proves that Prodrive should have got the place; their situations and reasons for failing were very similar.

      What I don’t understand is why the FIA keep getting themselves into this situation where they’re desperately trying to finalise rules at the last minute, because this is always going to damage the most vulnerable teams the most (i.e. the poorest and those just trying to enter). I fully appreciate that it’s difficult to finalise rules, especially in the FOTA age, but this needs to be done in a more timely manner. It’s like they suddenly wake up one morning and think “I god, you know what we haven’t done yet – finalised the rules for next year”. It’s ridiculous and I really have sympathy for USf1 on this.

  2. Zobra Wambleska says:

    This is a totally appropriate finding by the FIA, but I feel that Max should have been cited for, at least, unprofessionalism and duplicity in his governance of this episode.

  3. Nando says:

    The FIA has plenty of warning many were predicting USF1 wouldn’t make it several months before. The Serbia outfit were ready to take their place but the FIA’s lack of preparation and stubborness prevented it from happening.

  4. Marc says:

    “The team, whilst well-intentioned, had displayed poor financial management and had underestimated the requirement”

    And who accepted their entrance into the F1 world championship? And what other teams such as a certain prodrive was dismissed?

    The FIA need to start owning up to their own mistakes as well – such as the poor clarity on the rules for Schu/Alonso/Monaco incident.

  5. N. Machiavelli says:

    USF1 _lied_ about its readiness. There’s little I detest
    more than this sort of liar, whose guiding “principles”
    are that any conduct which might bring personal gain
    is within their personal code of ethics.

    As an American I don’t believe these characters should be allowed to ever have another chance to represent my country, whether it is as part of a half-baked pretense at a racing team or in any other capacity.

    Not sure the moderators will allow this, but Peter Windsor strikes me as what some of us here in the US would call a douche, with his little neck scarf and his permanent tan. Perhaps Windsor should take his
    trust fund and sail to Tahiti.

    1. Andy W says:

      Swings and roundabouts. Whilst I have no doubt that USF1 where duplicitous, the way they where handled by the FIA (all the teams where handled) was hardly clean cut and above board.

      I have a feeling that the FIA is opening itself up to be counter-sued given the promises and conditions it made to new teams that it failed to deliver.

      To me the best solution would have been for the FIA and USF1 one to have shook hands and to have both walked away heads held high. The FIA is instigating this current round of problems and fines and no doubt Windsor and co will fire back in kind.

      If you live in a glass house you really shouldn’t be throwing stones…. and both parties are living in glass houses.

    2. Jack says:

      To say that USF1 lied is to give them too much credit and implies intentional deceit. It would be more accurate to say “USF1 was clueless about its readiness.”

      Windsor was clueless as to actual progress and Anderson was ineffective and oblivious. Too much wishful thinking and not enough brass tacks.

  6. Irish con says:

    That last part is a joke. If you have read this months f1 racing you will see the part about this years Toyotas car that the Serbian ouufit was going to run. Why couldn’t the fia let them in this year if they were that worried. It would have been a solid midfield team at least

  7. N. Machiavelli says:

    I’ve understood the denial of Richards ( ProDrive ) was due to a personal vendetta against Richards by a certain Mr. M.

    One only has to look at how ProDrive conducted Subaru’s WRC effort to know they’d put on a first-class effort.

    I expect that if Richards is still interested, there will soon be a place for his team in F1.

    1. Williams4ever says:

      @Machiavelli – As TM has already pointed Dave Richards was not exactly in bad books with Max, if you have forgotten Dave’s Prodrive team was awarded entry by Max for 2008 season, where only thing Prodrive had demonstrated was letter of intent from McLaren to sell customer cars to Dave’s team if their entry was approved.
      Dave’s entry was approved ahead of serious team like Carlin Motorsports that had well established program in various FIA approved open wheel series, and who had acquired Roger Penske’s facilities in England, a Windtunnel, ramped up team in anticipation of their application being accepted by FIA.

      I don’t recollect Richards being penalized by FIA for No show in 2008 season. Nor was any news of FIA apologizing to Trevor Carlin for overlooking his serious application in favor of Richards.

  8. Daniel Gomes says:

    As much as I think it was a complete failure, to punish USF1 in that fashion is just stretching it quite a large bit, I would say.

    What the hell does they mean with “The team, whilst well-intentioned, had displayed poor financial management and had underestimated the requirement to present an F1 car for the 2010 season”.

    The word “underestimated” is the highlight here. How the heck can someone who never raced in F1 estimate correctly what it is to participate in a world class championship?

    If anything, the FIA was the one totally wrong to accept their entry in the first place by overestimating their ability to build a car in time for the 2010 championship.

    I for one think this is absolutely rubbish and an over-reaction by the FIA. I don’t have access to the inside information to know exactly what went on, but it seems to me it will discourage anyone from trying to get involved in F1.

    I was really rooting for Windsor and Anderson, despite anything people have against them, but as a fan of F1, I would love to see a team with the US brand on it. What a double shame, first for USF1 for not making it to the grid and second because of this lame judgement tossed by the FIA.

    A disgrace to F1.

    1. monktonnik says:

      “How the heck can someone who never raced in F1 estimate correctly what it is to participate in a world class championship?”

      Peter Windsor was a pretty senior figure at both Williams and Ferrari in the ’80′s (I think). He may not have experience of the very modern F1, but he must have known by a pretty early stage that they had no chance of making the grid. I can understand why they didn’t want to admit in the public domain that they were in trouble, but as with all these teams, they should have had the money in the bank before they started.

      1. Daniel Gomes says:

        Does being a senior figure mean being a TECH-senior figure? No.

        Windsor knew a lot of stuff, but I remember this story a few months back when a source said that Windsor had to ASK the techs and mechanics if they could do what they were set to. They said no and hell breaks loose.

        If he had to ask, then he sure knows jack sh*t about the technical side, and that is to be expected. He was in for contacts and to make things happen as a PR to the team. However, I truly believe that he DIDN’T have a clue about what could and what couldn’t be achieved.

        He had hope and believed in the guys he was working with. I am sure he was left in dismay as much as anyone when he realized his team wasn’t going to be.

        That’s my belief.

      2. Richard Mee says:

        …but all these arguments boil down to a dodgy initial decision by the FIA. The interesting question here is why were they given a place. Were assurances enough? did they forge bank balances, because surely the FIA checked their funds as part of the appraisal? Did everyone assume that the You Tube chap would just keep on writing cheques ad infinitum?
        There is no excuse for the initial yes decision being made given the number of alternatives submitted. It smacks of an alternative agenda, but let’s not get into that. Quite how the FIA has the gall to try to cover up their own hash-up by punishing the team is ludicrous! They should be desperate to leave this far behind quickly and very quietly.

  9. Ron Arnold says:

    They should fine them $10 billion. They may as well as they will not be getting one penny, methinks. It’s a sad situation and in typical FIA style, they are killing the (severely) wounded rather than taking them to hospital. Vindictive much?

    1. Hutch says:

      Exactly. It reads like putting some extra bullets in USF1 to make sure they’re really dead. As if their year hasn’t been hell enough already.

  10. Curro says:

    Peter Windsor used to know everything about how to set up a winning F1 team in no time with limited budget avoiding all the no-background and big-ego mistakes.

    Not only that, he wrote about it monthly.

    No wonder a lot of people love to see him fail. Probably not fair under the circumstances, but still a good reminder of how not to be too intelligent.

    1. Williams4ever says:

      So true.. Poor chap lost his Media Job, and also his Race weekend duties for post quali and post race interviews.

      I guess he had rubbed someone on wrong side and was set on path of failure from onset, where the rules of game were not established to start with. The Governing body did “Due Diligence” exercise, granted entry, sent delegation to check on progress (who again gave a green signal, that everything was on course in North Carolina).
      He was simply made to look like a fool in the whole fiasco

  11. James W says:

    Why punish a “team” which now has nothing at all? I think the humiliation for Windsor and Anderson is punishment enough.

    While I can understand their frustrations that the 2010 regs were late to be finalised, as was the concorde agreement, the other new teams still made it – even Hispania, who didnt even exist until a week before the start of the season. Money isnt an excuse here either, Colin Kolles is probably fairly wealthy, but I bet he doesnt have as much as USF1 had,

  12. Adam Taylor says:

    James, when you say disqualification of USF1, does this mean the name or the key people involved being Peter Windsor, Ken Anderson and Chan Hurley?

      1. CHUBASCO . C says:

        James,
        By the way, how’s Peter doing nowadays ?
        Is he ever get back to the F1 paddock, it will be really a great shame not to be team boss of USF1,but, sure miss him for the great work for Speed Channel.
        Again, thanks for what you are doing for the F1 fans.

      2. James Allen says:

        He’s been at quite a few races lately, but not in the F1 paddock. He’s been doing some work with Alexander Rossi in GP3

  13. Robert from Texas says:

    So what’s the point? USF1 exists only in paper. This action has the same effect as suing a dead man who has no assets. You may win, but will never get anything out of it and the defendant will feel no pain. The participants can still partake in the F1 circus with other teams. USF1 could simply rename themselves outside of the FIA and continue on (not that they will). So again… what’s the point?

    1. Red5 says:

      Unfortunately you are right, it’s not as if the money will go to reimburse all the staff and suppliers who were not paid…

  14. Stuey says:

    If they couldn’t make the grid then it’s right they were punished, but it does raise questions about the selection criteria – USF1 never made it and HRT only managed by the skin of their teeth. Makes you wonder how these teams were considered more worthy than the others. Or was it just the wrong time to get involved in F1 as a recession hit.

    Also the ban – is it effective? USF1 are banned, but would that prevent Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor setting up a brand new team / company, applying, and having to be considered? I’m sure they wouldn’t consider doing this and their history would be known, but if the team license had been in place, could the individuals have been banned or sanctioned rather than the team for something like this?

  15. camp6ell says:

    So, this actually means NOTHING in the grand scheme of things. It means that the FIA gets to keep the €309k deposit already paid to them by USF1. That’s what this is all about.
    And if KA and PW want to get together the exact same people in future and submit an entry, they may do so, unless it’s under the banner of USF1.

  16. Nando says:

    What does this mean in practice? Could they just set-up the team under another guise?

    1. monktonnik says:

      Probably not with the new rules about senior team members needing a licence.

      I can’t imagine the FIA granting anything to them in the future.

  17. MIchael P says:

    “IF” the FIA did its due diligence to make sure the new entrants had the funding to compete then why are they not equally to blame?

  18. OppositeLock says:

    “…a fine of 309,000 euros (a sum equivalent to the Entry Fees for the Championship.”

    What a surprise! Equal to the entry fee. The FIA is more interested in keeping its coffers full than returning the money to the suppliers that got screwed by USF1. My cynical side sees this as just a way for the FIA to justify keeping the money. And good luck collecting from a dissolved company any additional court costs and expenses.

    James, does this apply to just the team USF1, or does it apply to the employees and company officers?

    1. James Allen says:

      The directors I would imagine

      1. jonrob says:

        Shirley this would depend upon the legal financial basis on which the team was formed, ie as a limited company a plc or what? Are they dumb enough to leave themselves liable after the team has disbanded? Well looking at their performance so far, maybe!

    2. Harvey Yates says:

      As you say OL, this is a merely the FIA opting to keep part USF1′s assets. A deposit is a deposit and one would assume the phrase non returnable was somewhere in the paperwork. The decision does little more than deny any real creditors a chance of getting their money back.

      They have also, in effect, banned a name. USF1(2011) could be in next season. Or, perhaps USFA. USF2 is, like USF1, a bit on a non-starter.

      There was no suggestion that any of the directors, management or staff of USF1 are not fit and proper so they can, one would assume, pop back. The only criticism is of poor financial management, something that you could, to an extent, accuse Ferrari of in the early/mid 1990s.

      There is mention of just three weeks notice. Shame they didn’t read a certain blog where doubt was cast on the team’s ability to field an entry from the word go.

      And the suggestion that there have been major changes in the discipline procedure are a bit of an exaggeration. There is no real independence. The WMSC is the FIA in many ways. The judging panel is patently part of the FIA and has a pecuniary interest. They have merely decided that their inability to define what was required of the team was not a factor in USF1’s ability to deliver.

      Can they really, however well intentioned, consider both sides of the argument? Do they not sympathise with their own employers in value judgements? It would be very difficult not to.

      Autre temps autres moeurs, same old . . .

      That said the ‘punishment’ is mild, there seems to be no vindictiveness in the judgement, the language is reasonable and, in all honesty, USF1 bit off more than they could chew. So perhaps a change has come over the FIA. The shame was that there were other concerns in the wings which could have been very competitive.

  19. Steve Selasky says:

    Help me out with this? What is the FIA point?
    Couldn’t they refuse a future entry and not refund the entry.

    It is like kicking someone who is on the ground. What is the point?

  20. Nico says:

    James from my memory, USF1 announced their participation in F1 before the cost cap was discussed.

  21. bones says:

    James,please explain us(if you know) how in the hell USF1 got the green light to run in 2010 on January 2010 after Whiting(I think he was the one) flew to USA to visit the factory?
    Was that something done just to get the money from Lopez?
    I still can’t believe that by having just a monocoque and few other parts FIA allowed them to race just 2 months before the race,I am sorry but smell extremely fishy.

  22. Red5 says:

    Sad but not unexpected.

    If USF1 had quietly pushed forward throughout the off-season there may have been more sympathy even the chance of a merger later on. However they certainly didn’t shy away from making bold, and many would say totally unrealistic predictions.

    Ultimately Peter + Ken shot themselves in their respective feet.

    The FAI action is more of a warning to others. It’s very unlikely that a bankrupt team will pay the fine.

  23. neil m says:

    The FIA should man up and recognise their own role in this monumental cock up.

    They’re in the process of allowing another team to join, and I would suggest that it’s already too late to build a reasonable car from scratch for next season. More work for Dallara…

    1. Emily says:

      Disagree…Lotus had only 6 months’ notice when they got their entry for this year and have managed to be the quickest of the new teams. If an outfit is professional, they can make the grid in a relatively short timescale without embarrassing themselves. USF1 just wasn’t a professional team.

  24. monktonnik says:

    I think that this is pretty fair. Considering the losses to suppliers and the awful time the employees have had, USF1 have really not played with a straight bat.

    To be honest, any start up company that equips it’s offices with Herman Miller “Aeron” chairs at £800 a pop, before they have made a profit, is probably not operating in the real world.

    I echo the comments of some other posters; where does the responsibility lie for the FIA? It is disingenuous of them to grant an entry, inspect the lack of progress and suddenly act surprised when they don’t show and claim they had “no warning” when the rest of the world seemed to realise this weeks before.

  25. Spenny says:

    I still cheer myself up on a Monday morning with a read of the USF1 website, frozen in time in January. http://www.usgpe.com/

    The blog of Peter Windsor telling people how stupid the Europeans are for not working over Christmas when Americans just get their heads down and gets things done is especially satisfying.

    Poor old Scott Bennett sits there with the line “Almost nobody knows it, but this team has come an unbelievably long way since it was first announced on Speed TV 11 months ago.” Well, they either went round in ovals or they kept their progress a massive secret from us and the FIA.

  26. Benn Gunn says:

    Wasn’t Peter Windsor one of the very few people ever to sue Bernie & win?

    What goes around comes around!

  27. john g says:

    so somehow mosely and purnell are in no way responsible for letting the situation reach such a stage…?

  28. Bill Day says:

    The FIA’s action does seem gratuitous — putting a few extra bullets in the corpse — but at least this ties up one more loose end left over from the misrule of Mr. Mosley. People suggest the FIA should own up to their mistakes — I am much more interested in them not repeating those mistakes in the future.

  29. AdrianInFlorida says:

    USF1 deserved to get slpped hard for their failure.

    They entered into an agreement to put two cars on the grid of the Formula One World Championship, not some regional racing series.

    If there are no tough punishments for this type of infraction, soon F1 will look like the Indy Racing League or some other series in dire straits, with teams coming along for a race or two and then disappearing into the mist.

  30. Kenny says:

    USF1 can give their excuses, but ultimately they had that time period of “sitting on their laurels” not doing anything about the potential of the £30 million idea being scrapped.
    What they should have done as a back up was GET sponsorships in case something were to happen.
    It’s the same with people in jobs these days where they might actually lose them. They would apply elsewhere INCASE they did lose that job and hopefully they will get accepted elsewhere.
    USF1 also were rather boastful that they had a good financial plan WITH the budget, but nothing about in case something was to go wrong. Only within the budget cap that apparently they were going to be “cost-effective” and so on and so forth it goes on.
    I know some people have said this might deter other teams from joining, but the message is that the team has to be certain they have the finance absolutely sorted to stay enter and STAY in F1. A lot of planning is required and if it isn’t done right then this happens.

  31. Pass0 says:

    I’d rather have a team fail to make the championship, rather than conduct their pre-season testing during the opening races of the sesason with bits falling off their cars…

  32. tom p says:

    while the fia is within it’s rights to kick the dead horse that is usf1. they share some of the fault, waiting so long to get the rules set,expecting the new teams to have their cars sorted out in less than a year. bernie and max working against usf1,kind of hard to raise money when both max and bernie are saying they(usf1) will not make the grid at the first race.

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