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US F1 gears up for car build phase
US F1 gears up for car build phase
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Oct 2009   |  11:14 am GMT  |  26 comments

There has been a lot of talk about the US F1 team lately, including Bernie Ecclestone suggesting that the team might not make it onto the grid next season.

Many existing teams in the F1 paddock seem to be sceptical as well. There have been rumours that the factory is empty, that they have had little contact with Cosworth, that one of the sponsors didn’t materialise and the team are well behind. As I posted the other day, the Sauber team is watching the situation carefully because its only chance of getting a slot on the grid next year is if one of the current signatories to the Concorde Agreement doesn’t make it.

But Peter Windsor told me at the weekend that everything is progressing well. The team has hired veteran engine liaison man Bernard Ferguson, to deal with his former colleagues at Cosworth and is pressing ahead with the build of its first chassis.

I asked USF1 if they could send me some photos of what they are up to and they have supplied what you see below along with a Q & A document with team principal Ken Anderson.

I’m not usually in the habit of reproducing Q&As but this one seems pretty timely and explains where the team is up to.

Team Machine-Shop-1LF

What is going on at US F1 Team?

“It has been quite a ride since we started the team last year, and has become far more intense since the signing of the Concorde Agreement. Our world headquarters is now complete and fully functional, and the 2010 racecar is in the construction phase.”

Team Design-2
Isn’t it a little late to get something like that started?

“We get that one (question) a lot. Thanks to our in-house design and engineering staff and the aid of our technical partners, for the last 10 to 12 months, the car has gone through thousands of iterations in a virtual environment. With this virtual design, we can test and be sure that it’s right from structural, design and engineering standpoints, so we don’t have to make a part, test it, break it and start again. Instead, we’ve taken out a lot of the guesswork and can get close to a race-ready piece right off of the machines, which is happening now. Our timing is according to plan, with an early November “roller” and a finished car in time for January 2010 testing.”

So who’s building the car? Americans? Europeans? Are you building the car in Charlotte?

” Yes, we’re building the car in our shop here in Charlotte. America is known as a “melting pot” and our team is a reflection of just that. Americans, Europeans, New Zealanders, Welshmen and more are responsible for the racecar, including many who have high-level experience in the current Formula One environment. Many of our new hires we connected with back in June and July, and they will be joining the team formally at the end of the month. We are very grateful to the current Formula One teams for releasing some of our “newest” team members early – that has been a huge help as we continue to prepare for the 2010 Formula One season.”

Let’s talk about what we’re seeing in some of these pictures…what are we looking at here?

“In two words, we’re “fully equipped.” Our machine shop features three- and five-axis CNC machines; we have a composite shop with autoclaves and a 24-foot CNC cutting table; a complete fab shop; assembly and sub-assembly; electronics; research and development; design and engineering; CFD and aerodynamics; marketing and communications; and a full in-house HD production facility, just to name a few departments. Building a team and a world class manufacturing facility are a work-in-progress but we’re ahead of schedule and are excited about going racing next year.”

Can you talk a little about the cost efficiency of manufacturing a Formula One car in the U.S. How can the operation be cheaper than what we’ve seen out there?

“The major cost savings will be that the engineering and production of the cars will be done in the United States. Our technical partners located within a 30-mile radius of our shop contribute to this savings, as there are some departments we don’t have to have in-house, such as a wind tunnel, shaker rig, K&C machine, additional CFD support and a center of gravity machine. What most people see – the transporters, motorcoaches and the “lifestyle” side of Formula One – are a much smaller part of the overall budget and will be located at our European facility, which we’ll tell you about soon!”

Meanwhile Windsor has told Autosport that because of delays to the signing of the Concorde Agreement this summer and the shortage of Americans with sufficient experience to get an F1 superlicence, the team is likely to run at least one if not two non-American drivers.

“Because of all the time we’ve lost, our ambition to run two young Americans is looking more difficult,” Windsor said.

“I’m still hoping we’ll be able to run one American, but that’s a tall order because there aren’t many Americans out there with superlicences.”

I’ve heard Alex Wurz’s name linked with the team on a number of occasions. But there are plenty of good drivers out there including four Brits; Anthony Davidson, Jamie Green, Paul di Resta and Gary Paffett.

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It’s interesting to note that, other than Ferrari, only one non-UK based F1 team has won an F1 world championship. I wonder why Team America thinks that it will be any different, especially as other non-UK based outfits, such as Toyota and BMW, have also failed to deliver results?

Jorge Moreira da Costa

If USF1 or any of the other newcomers manage to achieve any success in their first year in spite of their short setup and development time-frame, be ready to see Toyota follow Honda and BMW…


i would love a grid of 28 cars , pre qually and open the doors to anyone, miss the cut even if you are in the team of 14 , out you go for the weekend.Qually would be great knowing a team or driver could be out for the weekend.

imagine kimi or Jenson having a dog of a qually and not making it into the race, great fun. ;0)

Paige Michael-Shetley

I can’t stand how the European press pointed straight to USF1 as the team in question to make the grid. Not once have the questioned the readiness of Campos, Manor, or Lotus. The only reason they’ve picked on USF1 with poorly-informed- or sometimes uninformed- criticisms is due to their anti-American sentiment.

USF1 were the first team to have all their ducks in a row to get off the ground. They’ve had their shop together since the beginning of the year. They were the first to have their engine contract with Cosworth sewn up. They have high-profile partners already with the team. And as we can see in the photos, they’ve got all the equipment in place to build cars and have been in the design phase for some time. This team WILL be on the grid in 2010.

Now I suggest the Euro media scum (not you, James) move on to questioning`Malaysian “Lotus”, or perhaps even their own ilk for once.


wow we are having a bad day in the land of the free, come on fella smile.

Opposite Lock (Ken)

Thanks for addressing this James.

I can’t help but think that Lotus would be in worse shape due to the lateness of their inclusion.

Which of the new teams seem the best prepared to you James?

I wonder why Bernie chose USF1 to pick on with his remarks?

I hope Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson truly have things on track. The U.S. desperately need a team and drivers to attract American attention to Formula 1 races. Especially by the media.

Deep down I think they will be ready for the new season but the Cosworth will be a dog. Even with the higher revs. The other engine mfgs. just have had too much time to optimize their designs with all of the tweeks they’ve been allowed to make to improve reliability. It caught Renault out badly and now it will catch out Cosworth.


It will be great to have a US team on the grid, and my advice would be forget about US drivers this year, and go for experience. Sign 2 drivers who have proven F1 experience, especially on the development side, and let them shake the car down. Then, when it’s all running smoothly in a years time grab a couple of young US drivers


Is Peter Windsor as big a [mod] as he sounds from reading F1 Racing? I gave up buying that mag because of his ridicuously detailed and biased ‘analysis’ of driving styles and his obsession with brake brands (Hitco-Brembo, yada-yada-yada…)


It looks like Bernie has been stage-managing the publicity for USF1.

Sounds too much of a coincidence that he questions whether they will be around next year just before they release lots of info, photos, etc to maximum media & public interest.

Who will be next to be unlikely to make the grid (& release their PR)?


No, I think you’ve misread that one. In fact USF1 have been a bit slow with their pr. I expect them to use the full power of Google and You Tube, thanks to the involvement of You Tube founder Chad Hurley in the team.


James, I’ve really enjoyed your blog since launch. Unfortunately it seems the recent changes have made it rather truncated in a lot of RSS readers. Is this intentional?

It seems to be designed to direct traffic to this page rather than read your opinions in the most convenient way to the reader

If that’s the case, I fear it’ll mean less people will choose to follow your blog


With all that kit they hardly need to build a car, they can simulate the whole shebang and run it in races inside the software.

Indeed this is routinely done in the motor industry to test suspension on all sorts of vehicles. Bump/surface data is first recorded over the test route then used in the test rig to reproduce the road/track conditions in the test lab on any vehicle. A few steps forward from the traditional “French pave” tests of yesteryear.


Could all this consist of mock-ups James? or did they invite you and others to visit Charlotte to see the facility for yourself

Anyone recall an American with the great name “Speed” not so long ago?


They are issued by USF1. What you see in the pictures isn’t very conclusive in terms of the work going on, but the hardware is definitely there and they were inspected by the FIA this week.


I’ve heard from a number of sources that they hired in the equipment for the photos and FIA inspection and then shipped it all out again.

It is also peculiar that one of the computer shots shows them doing CFD work on a mac and the other on a PC. It’s very odd to mix – and only an image is shown on each screen with no useful UI. The car doesn’t look very convincing – and I`m not sure that it’s even the same car in the two images. (Only the PC image is published here – but the Mac one is with the original Q & A).

This could very easily be a mock up.


Please bring Montoya back to F1! He’s an American star without actually being American – in Indy – in F1 – in NASCAR. That boy can race, no doubt about it.


Yup. Montoya’s a throwback, no question. You haven’t seen such excellence in multiple disciplines since the ’60s. I doubt he’ll be in the team, but who knows.

I still say that they’ll get Heidfeld, looking more and more likely to be a free agent unless Williams snaps him up, to get that steady pair of hands with development skills. The PR move would place Graham Rahal or Marco Andretti in the other seat.

Glad to hear that things are moving along nicely, and I can’t wait to see the car. I hope they try something radical, like running with no wings…

Go USF1!



I can’t imagine Marco making it in F1 – just don’t think he’s good enough. I think he has definitely lost an “edge” while driving for his dad’s team.

Rahal is a better prospect as he is still young enough to be moulded into a great driver. He’s fast, but makes a few mistakes.

Apart from them, JR Hildebrand looks like a really special young driver, but seems to be IRL bound.

Jonathan Summerton could be very good too and looks most likely I think.


I think JPM is having way too much fun in NASCAR + he can have a burger or three and still fit in the car!! He is one driver F1 let escape and would have been spectacular in this new breed of cars but having made ‘The Chase’ in NASCAR he’s making a success of that now.


JPM quit F1 because he was fed up with the lack of overtaking. I would love to see him back in F1 too, but I cant see it ever happening. Which is a great shame because if anyone could find an overtaking move then it was Montoya.


Would love to see it happen, but doubt it especially now he’s finally getting traction in NASCAR and has a shot at the cup. But if he does win it, could he be tempted back to try to be the only one to win Indy F1 and NASCAR? Hmmmmmmmm …..


I love how Peter doesn’t class Welshmen as European.

Rwyf yn Cymraeg a hoffwn defaid. Nid wyf yn Ewrop.

Go US-F1! I genuinely wish you all the best. F1 needs you.


Sounds like US F1 will make it to the grid


Thanks James – but Joe Saward beat you to it this time – his version was up yesterday, but I like your additional refinements.

Not like you to be behind? Hope you’re over your cold. You sounded really ill on Sunday.


well, i hope they do make it – personally i’m looking forward to a grid with as many new teams as possible next season!

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