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.