Grandprix.com reported yesterday that the announcement that the team formerly known as Honda will be going ahead may be made soon. The yet to be named ex-Honda team is expected to be powered by Mercedes engines and Bruno Senna should come on board as Button’s team mate. The main backing is to come from former Williams’ partners Petrobras and Honda itself (for 2009 season only probably). Petrobas’ switch from Williams to Honda has been rumoured long before Honda announced their withdrawal from F1. The Petrobras connections was probably also a reason behind Honda testing Brazilian drivers Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi last November. According to grandprix.com additional finances are expected from one or two Senna’s personal sponsors (quick look at Bruno Senna’s personal website reveals names such as Embratel, Santander, Carglass, Hublot, Hilton Racing, Cavalera Jeans). We still have to wait and sea how relaible will grandprix.com’s sources prove to be this time. (Update: Other reports suggest that the financing has been secured but so far only for first four races of the season – see this article at The Guardian)
Only about a week ago rumours broke out about new F1 team being formed in the United States with intention to enter F1 from 2010 season. I was not the only one having serious doubts about that story. But less than 10 days on it does look like the people behind this team mean business. Here is what Peter Windsor had to say to Speed TV:
“Ken Anderson and I have been looking at the possibility of designing and building an F1 car in the USA for the past four years” said the former Williams and Ferrari team manager. “So I guess the real surprise is that we were able to keep it quiet for so long. The news broke this week but the real announcement is going to be live on SPEED, potentially on Feb 24.”
“Since the leak, the response has been overwhelming – and we’re speaking of millions of fans here, plus people in the industry and the media. Of course there will be the usual cynics but right now it feels as though we’ve got maybe ten people against us and 10 million for us.”
“Of course it’s not easy raising money in the recession. Having said that, the recession is all about adapting to changing times and re-setting the boundaries. That is what we are going to with USF1 – and that is what the FIA are doing with the F1 rules. We know that we’re primarily in the entertainment business and so every aspect of USF1 will reflect that.”
Thanks to Sidepodcast tweet I found and read Dieter Rencken’s article at autosport.com that makes lots of sense of the USF1 project. I do recommend reading the whole story, the access to the article however requires subscription. Here is summary of some interesting points Rencken made:
– While Charlotte offeres all the technical facilities (incluidng the Wind Shear wind tunnel) required to build an F1 car the university in Clemson (an hour’s drive from Charlotte) is first-class and offers all the necessary facilities required to undertake aerodynamic and vehicle dynamic calculations. The Wind Shear is believed to be the best wind tunnel in the world.
– The F1 calendar these days comprises of three parts – four Asian flyaways, nine races in Europe, a final four flyaways. This makes the logistics for USF1 simple – design and build in the USA, move to Europe for testing, four flyaways in a row, back to Europe, final block of four flyaways, end of season. Not that much difference compared to European based teams
– The US is likely the most important market for BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Ferrari. With no USGP currently on calendar association with USF1 team may be what the F1 remaining car manufacturers may actually fight for. Chances of USF1 team eventually getting engines and some technical support for free are not small.
– And then there are Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson
The official USF1 team announcement (as mentioned in the interview for Speed TV) is expected on February 24.
Update: Daniel from F1Bloggen spotted that there is a countdown to the launch running now at USF1 website.