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Should USF1 be allowed to skip four races?
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Should USF1 be allowed to skip four races?
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Feb 2010   |  7:05 pm GMT  |  345 comments

It has been widely reported today that the USF1 team has asked the FIA for permission to miss the first four races of the season, starting at the beginning of the European season.

Picture 1
Team founder Ken Anderson spoke to the New York Times on Friday and admitted that the team was not currently good to go, but suggested that some funding would be available provided that the FIA gives them this massive concession soon,
“If we get a decision quickly, it triggers funding and we’re good to go,” he said.

“We’re working with the FIA to clarify how many races we can miss,” he added. “In an ideal world, we can miss the first four races and show up in Barcelona [9 May].”

There have been mixed signals on the possibility of teams missing races. Although it has been suggested by Bernie Ecclestone that in the Concorde Agreement a team can miss three races, FIA president Jean Todt said recently that this was not the case.

USF1 was caught out by the late resolution of the row between the teams and the FIA last summer. It delayed its plans by several months. There have been rumours that the team’s main backer, You Tube founder Chad Hurley, was on the pointg of pulling out but Anderson denied this.

He wants a lifeline, some sponsors have not followed through on pledges to back the team, apparently and he feels the FIA should help his team, not strangle it at birth.

“Why would they give us a franchise and just, the first time there’s a bump in the road, yank it and put it out of business?” he said. “That’s definitely not the message I’m getting from them. They want to help us, not shut us down.”

Meanwhile we have Stefan GP, which has already had its run ins with the FIA over the new team selection process, waiting in the wings to take USF1’s place.

It’s a tricky one for the FIA. To give them the leeway would create an unfortunate precedent and this is a dog eat dog business, so why should USF1 be cut some slack? But if the FIA kick them out would be construed as an admission that they were not diligent enough in checking the viability of the team. The selection process for new teams was widely criticised by media and teams at the time, but it yielded the three teams it yielded. Then when BMW failed to sign the Concorde Agreement an entry was offered to Lotus, making it four new teams. Sauber then bought BMW Sauber and got an entry.

It comes down to viability. Does USF1 have the legs to still be in F1 in ten years if it is given a second chance now? Does the FIA believe that Stefan is viable and will be able to move beyond the ‘second hand Toyota’ phase and develop into a proper team?

If the FIA believes that Stefan has the wherewithal to make a go of it, perhaps it should give them the entry. Either way, the last thing F1 needs is a team which peters out during the season.

What do you think?

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1

I believe they should something different altogether. They should temporarily suspend the 13 team limit, and give Stefan GP a provisional entry, so they can get tyres and test their car. Then when the season start they should allow 13 teams to enter, thereby de facto enforcing the 13 team limit again. This way, if all teams would be ready there would be one too many and Stefan would be put on hold, in case a team drops out later in the season they would be allowed to enter. If either Campos or USF1 would fail, Stefan would take their place, and if they would both fail Stefan would also be allowed in, so there would still be 12 teams and F1/the FIA wouldn’t suffer too much loss of face.

2

If the FIA allow USF1 to miss those races, it not only devalues the world championship but it is also a slap in the face to the other teams who will compete. The more I learn about this outfit, the more hairbrained it all seems.

Lotus and Virgin F1 both started development late into the 2009 season, but both teams have launched and tested their cars already. There should be no exceptions made, no matter who it is who is requesting such things.

When we se Stefan Gp desperate to get onto the 2010 grid, with a car ready to go, it angers me that teams such as Campos and USF1 have wasted our time by leading the sport up the garden path.

3

Surely we are well ahead already to where usf1 are!!! The championships got our name on it already. I’ll buy some more meccano.

4

Should not that last line read “Peters out”.

5

Can I also add – Kolles has this morning stated how Campos are in Chaos, with no set-up, nothing. He has said that he has two weeks to prepare the team, they will operate from Dallara to start with, and will be on the grid at the first race.

Yes they have a car, but from the sound of it no infastructure. Yet they’re not asking the FIA for more time!

6

Let’s don’t forget that the four new teams have been decided right in the middle of the war that the old teams had with FIA last year… and to show their muscles, FIA decided to elect teams like USGP and Campos and left Prodrive and Lola outside…

7

Ok, my two pence worth.

For a start – no way! Especially as they will then have the opportunity to watch the first four races, see which developments work on which cars, and possibly copy them. It’s a bit of an unfair advantage.

USF1 was established in February 2009, so they’ve had over a year to prepare. Lotus were given their entry in September, so they’ve had little time, and they’ve managed it!

Manor were given an entry and stated they applied due to the budget cap. That’s not happened, but they’ve stated that with Virgin, they will only be spending the 40 million – So no excuse for USF1 there either.

Remeber Arrows, they couldn’t afford to race, so they turned up at the French GP, and Frentzen and Benoldi drove their qualifying laps slowly, failed to get the 107% time and went home – having officially competed. They folded after that when they missed the British GP, although they took part in Practise only, again to compete.

Miss 4 races, there’s no point turning up to the other 15. Why give them special treatment when the others have had to rush? Even Super Aguri got a car to the first race after four months development!

No special favours, turn up or they’re out.

And although I’d like to see Stefan compete, I think the entry should go out for Tender again for 2011.

8

These clowns need to be thrown out if they dont make it, you cant put F1 on hold, your either in it or not.

9
Just A Bloke (Martin)

Having read all this thread my view has changed slightly.

1-I do think an genuine US F1 team would be a good thing.

2-I am sceptical of the evaluation criteria used by Max and his cronies.

3-I really don’t think its fair to the other “bidders” if Stefan is allowed to compete.

Assuming Campos make it then we have three new teams. Lets see how this goes then from say May announce that one extra team will be allowed in. Teams should have three months to prepare their bid and must in a position to demonstrate a solid business plan and design progress must be audited throughout 2010. Attending the pre season F1 tests to demonstrate credible speed and reliability should be a pre-requisite for attending any race.

Having the seen the US Army Top Fuel dragster I do believe that a US F1 Team can and should be in F1 and will add value to the series.

10

Martin, let me commend you for mentioning an NHRA team. That makes you one of the few F1 fans who doesn’t dismiss popular forms of US racing out of hand!

My view has changed too, more than a little, because (swallowing hard) I think they should be given the four races to make ready. Basically, I agree with all your points. If, and only if, a new and detailed FIA inspection shows that USF1 will be able to complete and compete from the fifth round on, then let it play out and let ’em race. Otherwise, just leave the slot open this year and open up to all interested parties next year. Including Stefan. But not this year.

There are lots of questions about Stefan, with ill will in some quarters at the way they seem to keep trying to shove their way to the front of the line. If the rumors about their efforts to buy Dallara in order to sink Campos are true, that’s too shady even for F1. We’ve just seen huge controversy caused by ruthless ambition: After Crashgate, where they were heavily criticized for waiting too long to investigate, the sport would be better served if the FIA spends the year investigating these hostile takeover/buyout rumors instead of rushing Stefan onto the grid in anger over USF1. This will help Stefan, too, because a full investigation of that stuff will end all the speculation likely to dog them otherwise.

I didn’t realize until reading a post above that David Richards still has reservations about the costs involved in F1 and says he won’t enter until things get cheaper. I suspect the travails of USF1 and Campos have confirmed his misgivings. He does not seem to me the kind of man to waste money, so I think the assumption that Prodrive is a ready and willing choice to take up any entry is just that – an assumption. Of Lola, I have no idea.

I still have hopes that someone over here in an established operation, even from another discipline (and, after all, Prodrive fits that description), will buy USF1 this week. John Force Racing, Rousch/Fenway Racing – or the more obvious names like Penske, Ganassi and Andretti.

11
Just A Bloke (Martin)

Hi,

Yeah I follow NHRA as best as I can. A few years ago, I combined a US holiday with a trip to Pomona, that must have been about 1992 when the 300 mph barrier had just been broken !

12

USF1 is probably a victim of the Global Financial Crisis (nee USA loans to poor credit risk that were repackaged as AAA+ securities) that is still impacting USA business and hence sponsorship.

As an editorial note perhaps the world can live without the USA’s debt, its wars and its Formula One team.

13

I think that USF1 should be allowed to miss the first 4 races. If the FIA get rid of them and replace them with Stefan GP, could they last the season? If Stefan GP race in the first 4 races, but then pull-out, that is worse than the USF1 situation, isn’t it? Really, the FOTA, Bernie and the FIA should be helping out USF1, especially the FOTA where the established teams have to help out the new teams. There hasn’t been much helping from them(established teams) so far. Hang your heads in total shame.

14

I have a few related questions not particularly directed at James. Please bear with me, they may be silly or naive but there’s no harm in asking. Does F1 really value the US and its market as much as is understood or is this a myth or wishful thinking?

Second, if the US is in fact coveted greatly by F1, why does it not do more to help both a US team and a US race to happen? Would it not be easier to sell the two together than either one on their own? Other sports make special concessions to maintain a presence in certain markets.

And finally, (brace yourselves, this one is out there) is the idea of an F1 race on a US oval so anathema to F1 that it would never happen or would it mainly be a problem of logistics? (The Indy cars run on both ovals and road courses as does NASCAR, and Monza used to have an oval). An oval race surely would guarantee a lot more US fans, Indy being the most logical venue. For the record I am not a fan of oval racing, I’m just curious.

15

Your question was “Is the idea of an F1 race on a US oval so anathema to F1 that it would never happen?”

The answer is yes.

16
Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Wouldn’t oval racing require a completely different design philosophy for a current F1 car?

17

Care to elaborate? I don’t dispute what you say, but it is my observation that there is no such thing as a sacred cow to the powers(singular?) that be at F1, only a cash cow.

18

You are probably right, though it is an interesting subject worthy of discussion, even if only hypothetical or simply for fun.

However, (not to beat a dead horse or to get that dog to hunt), if the major barrier to an oval race at Indy is the FIA’s safety regulations, does the fact F1 cars have already raced at Indy at high speeds around corner 13 prove that they are indeed safe enough to run at speed around the oval? I have no idea how much different the speeds are there, but surely any car that is capable of approaching or exceeding 200mph such as an F1 car can, requires the utmost safety protection. Besides, Indy now has the “SAFER Barrier” system installed so the forces of a crash into the walls around the corners while racing counter-clockwise are greatly reduced, and yet the concrete wall at the end of the high speed turn 13 of the road course is still exposed when running clockwise as is the case during the recent US Grand Prixs, surely inducing much higher crash forces even at the slightly slower F1 speeds.

As for US fans not being drawn to an F1 race on an oval, it cannot be overstated the lure to US fans of any sport that is generally acknowledged as the best in the world such as F1 is, even when the designation of “world championship” is dubious at best, such as is the case with the NFL’s Superbowl and MLB’s World Series championships since those leagues are not contested on an international stage.

19

To proceed along your line of inquiry, I will assume that Mr. E decides where and therefore on what to race. However, that cannot include an oval without Mr. T’s permission, as he ultimately determines what the cars must be. He would correctly point out that the highly effective minimalism of an F1 car would have to be greatly compromised in order to be strengthened sufficiently until it could safely crash into concrete at over 220 mph. The resultant abomination would be a very expensive and unreliable Indy car. So, for the sake of the elusive American audience, all of the rest of the Grand Prix are saddled with a slower less effective instrument.

If the Indy 500, complete with Danica Patrick, can’t draw a decent viewership once a year what chance do you think F1 has in the States under any optimized scenario?

Eventually, no matter how much you beat it, you have to admit it: that dog won’t hunt.

20

F1 on an oval?

The whole reason people are fans of F1 is that it is NOT oval racing. It will never happen.

I think we are seeing a bit of international psychology at play:

I think that F1 would like to get into the US market, but only on it’s (Bernie’s) terms. The US market (industry, fans, politicians ect.) expects everyone to bow to it. F1 operates in just about every other market in the world where it is all ready king and has them bowing to it (F1).

It is also interesting to see that F1 races are held in most of the worlds strongest or most up and coming markets. It is telling that Bernie feels that he can tell Indy to take a hike while at the same time securing a Chinese race.

21

USF1, you are the weakest link – Goodbye

22

Using drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Jacques Villeneuve, the 2010 Toyota car and the Cologne operation that Zoran Stefanovic and the Serbian government own are more than able to score points. As for designing and building the cars for 2011 and beyond, any high-priced linchpin personnel Cologne lacks can be put in place in no time. The Campos example shows that a patron (Carabante), an effective manager (Kolles) and an experienced technical director (Willis) can be brought to bear on the chaos and bottlenecks in no time.

USF1, begone!

23

I cant see why USF1 shouldnt be given a 4 race grace. From all accounts campos was in a far worse position than USF1 and they got help from bernie and the crew to get it sorted, so why shouldnt the same apply. i dont think it’s their fault that sponsors reneged on their deals once the budget goalposts got moved. If the dont show in barcelona then exculde them.

I get the feeling that as bullish as stefan GP are being,there is some smoke and mirror magic going on there as well.

24

They should only be allowed to miss four races if Stefan Grand Prix can race in their place.

25
Jorge Moreira da Costa

(Probably someone has already mentioned this, but the list of posts is too long)

Isn’t all this mess about Campos, USF1 and the likes similar to what has put the world in the current economic state? Get an access to a business (How? Good question, specially when David Richards wasn’t allowed in…) and then quickly sell your position… No value-added, no technical improvement, just vaporware, as IT people in the 80’s and 90’s referred to fantastic programs that existed only in fabricated screen snapshots.

26

Being an American I was highly suspicious of the USF1 concept from the go. The reason is the absence of serious substance from Peter Windsor/Ken Anderson at the initial announcement. It seem to me like “smoke and mirrors.

That being said before a decision is made – due dilligence (finance, technical infrastructure, support must be evaluated).

If the team is deemed sound and able to stand on it’s own for the next 3 years then give it a chance. Maybe it needs to be sold to Penske/Ganassi to bring in.

If upon examination it is found not to be on sound footing then put it out of it’s misery and give the slot to Dave Richards ProDrive operation. Or Martin Birrane at Lola.

Forget Stefan GP I doubt they are setup for the next 3 years.

In closing I wish all the best to the people at USF1………….

27

When this story came out I was actually thinking that Stefan should get the place.

But I agree with some of the other posters, in thiking that if USF1 dont get ready in time, their slot on the grid should go empty, and the FIA should reevaluate the possible contenders (Stefan, Lola, Prodrive).

I very much doubt Campos will make it into a second year so there could be two slots again next year.

James,

any news at to whether the Campos takeover (or buyout) means they will definitely be on the grid now?

28

That is what they are saying

29

As a north american F1 fan, the idea of a team based in the US is an excellent way to build interest in the sport. However, the lack of financial support appears to have ended this particular dream. Stefan GP has bought Toyota and have the potential of being a leg up on the other new teams due to inheriting an established infrastructure. In retrospect, USF1 should have approached Toyota and over time established its north american base.

30

It would not be right to allow USF1, or any other team to not be ready to start the season when there is another team waiting in the wings who are capable of starting the season.

But why not let Stefan GP in and reinsate the situation we had a number of years ago where there were more than 26 cars and only the top 26 qualified? It would probably need a bit of rejigging of the qualifying process but it allows flexibility and also ensures a full grid of starters.

31

What makes this situation difficult is the fact that it’s actually Mosley’s fault. He used new teams as pawns in his powerplay against FOTA teams. That’s why it’s not easy to say if USF1 should be allowed to miss four race by the same FiA who made all this mess in the first place. But that is emotional thinking and it’s good to have a bit of it in the decision making but not too much. Just a bit.

On the other hand, rationale thinking says that USF1 should not be allowed to miss four race, even though it was out of their hands from the beginning because that’s disallowed by the rules but that FiA should be in some way penalized for their failure to select capable teams and thus making this whole horrible situation with more than one team.

32

No excuses for USF1 or Campos. Manor have managed to get a good sponsership in place,Lotus, managed to get backing and design a car faster than both these teams together and Sauber literally looks bare but still has a car going round.

This is a dog eat dog world in F1. If USF1 are allowed to miss 4 races it would make the US and F1 a joke. Peter Windsor has spent to much time on Speed rather than develop a well efficent F1 team. With Villeneuve almost a certain for Stefan GP, funding from the Serbian goverment and a good technical team, surley Stefan deserves the slot not USF1.

33

I think your observations about the funding for Stefan have actually highlighted Bernie’s reason for involvement.

He wants a team with the backing of their government. That way when he trys to get a Serbian GP in the next couple of years he is already pushing on an open door with his fees and the need for state intervention to make it affordable.

34

That makes sense. Bernie doesn’t do anything without numero uno benefiting in some way.

35

In regards to the Sauber being an unfair comparison, it was designed by BMW, but until December Sauber had no idea they were racing, which brings us back to Stefan GP, We know that Toyota chassis is going to be somewhere between Williams and Torro Rosso.I would rather see one of the new teams fighting with the boys, than USF1 which will be aaround 10 seconds of the pace

36

Clearly the Sauber was designed by BMW during last year so that part at least is a pretty unfair comparison.

37

““Why would they give us a franchise and just, the first time there’s a bump in the road, yank it and put it out of business ?”

1) Because the team is the F1 equivalent of “vaporware” in the

computer world.

2) Because there are other teams which are more deserving of a spot on the grid, precisely because they ARE prepared.

3) Because this unfortunate legacy of the seriously questionable decision-making processes of Max Mosley

is obviously a mistake and it should be rectified for the

good of the sport.

Disclosure : I am American, but I have no patience for bs artists like USF1. The principals should stand down in the manner befitting a gentleman, and make room for a real team.

F1 is not for charity cases. it’s one of the most competitive sports on earth. The strong survive, and the weak don’t,

exactly as it should be.

Here’s hoping we will soon see the last of Peter Windsor and his pretense at an F1 team.

38

This is a face saving plan for both USF1 and the FIA. When the FIA decline to allow USF1 to miss 4 races they can then ask for the return of their entry which the FIA had no president to do otherwise.

If Stefan GP is going to get the entry it is going to require a lot of backroom deals with Bernie seeming a lot like Santa Claus. The FOM will never risk allowing a team that might beat them out of a championship point in.

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