Before the start of the Australian Grand Prix, I had the privilege of having a lengthy one on one interview with PETER WINDSOR, who is co-owner of the new American Formula One team – Team US F1.
Q – You refer to your team as Team US F1. Talk about the team name change to United States Grand Prix Engineering.
A – We didn’t change our name, we just parked it on a domain website for a couple of weeks while we were contacted by Bernie Ecclestone’s FOM. We do own the rights to F1. When you’re actually at the top level and you are a franchised team, you have to make sure that everything is correct. There was no problem. We just had to get everything clear. We were clear once we checked with the teams to see if we were going to be F1 Team USA or Team US F1. And we’re going to be Team US F1. In the logo, US and F1 will be separated and the F1 will be in a slightly different type face.
Q – Will the American flag be used in the logo, as in the original design?
A – I don’t know. Maybe. We haven’t really designed it. I think a little bit depends on the color scheme of the car and how we do all that. All those things will be decided in the next few months. Not too much stars and stripes on it. After all, we’re going to be very American with the name of the team and the color, the car is being built in America, the drivers will be American. But I think, you know, we can come up with some pretty nice stuff that spells American without necessarily having stars and stripes all over the car. The P51 Mustangs looked pretty American but they didn’t have American flags everywhere.
Q – Do you have a timeline or a schedule for your Formula One team?
A – We do. Obviously the time line ends at the Australian Grand Prix 2010 when we’ll have cars here on the grid. Yes, absolutely we’re racing in 2010. In terms of timeline, we’re well ahead of the time frame because you can’t test during the 2009 season anyway. We’re registered in the 2010 championships. The earliest we can have a car turning a wheel is 1 January 2010, legally. It’s now the end of March. We’ll have a car ready to turn a wheel January first 2001. Unlike most teams which are currently thinking of nothing other than this season at the moment and all the problems and the stuff that goes on the cars, they’ll start thinking seriously about 2010 in July or August.
We’re seriously thinking of 2010 right now. So we’re ahead in that sense. We’ve got a good time frame.
Q – You say you’re registered now?
A – Yes. There’s a certain amount of paper work that needs to be done. And the correct term is that our entry has been accepted. But, because the FIA haven’t yet finalized the Technical or Sporting Regulations for 2010, obviously there’s a certain amount of protocol that needs defining in the next month or so, in order to finally say yes, we are registered in the 2010 Championship. But we’ve already had an email back from the FIA saying our entry has been accepted for 2010. So, it’s just then a question of defining the regulations and how the entries are going to be.
Q – How are you going to manage all this with such short time frame between now and first race.
A – Yes time is short, but there’s no way around that problem. The only way to get around it is to postpone it for a year and run the drivers in GP2. What’s the point in that? You might as well just run F1 and go for it. We could get one experienced European F1 driver. but again…there is some logic to that, but we are a new team and doing things very differently than the Formula One norm.
We’re based in America. We have a very different scale of operation. We’re doing things our way, using American technology
So we’re doing things our way with the American mentality and don’t need the same head count as with Bernie’s system. Having a driver used to plugging into a large car company system isn’t necessarily going to be an advantage. He (driver) may say, hey, the car’s got no traction compared to the all the other cars or much better turn in, or whatever you say. We’re going to know that pretty quickly anyway while we’re out there competing.
So I’m a great believer in the fact that things have moved on a lot in the coaching area. I have a company in the UK, doing a lot of driver coaching at F1 and GP2 level right now, and we have fantastic results. And I’m very confident that when we find the two guys we’re looking for, that we will be able to do some very intensive coaching outside the Formula One car; and we will have them pretty much as good as they can be, barring driving the car in 2009. So I’m not that worried about time frame or worried about finding the right guy. When we will, I think it will pretty much be an obvious thing.