Although team founders Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson publicly insist their new USF1 team will appear on the starting grid at Bahrain, recent reports seem to suggest the team may have trouble appearing at any F1 event in the 2010 season.
Argentinean media sources report that USF1 — the first American based Formula 1 team since the 1970s — may have already shut its doors after sponsorship money fell through. Reports suggest a tearful Windsor told Argentinean driver Jose Maria Lopez that the team will not be ready to race until the fourth race of the season. If true, then there’s no point in competing in this year’s F1 circus — teams are required to take part in every race.
If that weren’t enough, USF1 — the only team that hasn’t unveiled a car for the 2010 season — cancelled crash tests scheduled for this week in England, and has refrained from setting a firm date for testing. The team initially planned to test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama before shipping the car off to Europe to join competing teams before the season opener. If the team cannot make it to the season opener, another new team who purchased the rights to Toyota’s fully developed 2010 cars is waiting in the wings.
The problem may lie with YouTube founder and USF1 sponsor Chad Hurley. Reports indicate Hurley backed out from sponsoring the team due to a lack of progress. If sponsorship money isn’t arriving as planned, any team will have trouble even making payroll.
“The bottom line is really simple: Sponsor money didn’t come through the way it was supposed to and it has grinded the company down to a halt,” a person with knowledge of USF1’s situation told The New York Times anonymously. “They’re having trouble making payroll; they’re having trouble paying suppliers; and that’s the situation they find themselves in.”
“It would be crazy for us to sit here saying everything’s perfect, we’re a new team, we’re going to be wonderful, we’re going to win our first race, which is kind of the way Formula 1 is,” said Windsor. “We’re just two guys that want to go racing, and we’re not trying to pretend we’re going to reinvent the wheel or do anything different. We just want to have fun and let everybody share the ups and downs of this team.”