Thursday, February 26, 2009

USF1 -- We've Seen This Movie

It must be the off-season, since the F1 media is busy trying to create a firestorm of press around the recent content-free announcemnt of the USF1 project.

Peter Anderson writes on F1Fanatic that the proposed team has many challenges in the areas of Logistics and Finance, not to mention the possible strategic blunder right from the start:
For me, the biggest own goal is passing up the opportunity to buy Honda Racing.
And he's right there. This kind of mistake could be caused either by financial concerns -- in that USF1 doesn't have the finance to execute a purchase of the Honda team -- or arrogance -- in that USF1 doesn't think they need to know anything of the status quo and that they will succeed without any help.

Logistics are indeed another challenge. Trying to run an international sporting team from the US will mean that the team members are going to live on planes. It could be argued that for much of the year they will probably not be back at their "base" because they have to stay at the next event's location in order to acclimatize to the timezone, while their competitors are only a couple of timezones away at their bases. Such a routine will burn people out very quickly.

Thing is, we've seen this kind of grandstanding several times. People announce teams and projects and then back out, for example, the ProDrive project that came and went over the years. Even organizations which buy struggling teams will come in with grand announcements and plans, only to get bought out themselves in a few years -- witness the journey taken by the Jordan Midland Spyker Force India team, or the various struggles that Minardi took over the years, or Honda's saga with Super Aguri. Even Honda themselves started their own team years ago only to slowly take over the Tyrell BAR team.

The bottom line is that with no racing there isn't much else to write about, and the founders of USF1 are undoubtedly enjoying the attention that this exercise is getting. Attention for a new project is good, as it will help raise their visibility which will help when trying to find a budget and components.

But overall I remain skeptical about the whole exercise. Until a USF1 shows up at an official F1 event, be it a race or a test, this is all just a bunch of hot air.