ONE ON ONE WITH PETER WINDSOR – PART THREE

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 – Have you started putting any of your team together?

A – My partner, Ken Anderson, and I met in 1985 and by then had already been in racing for quite a long time in some form or another. Like all racing people, like all people whatever you do in life, if you’re ambitious to want do your own thing, you always know how you’re going to do it when you have the opportunity. And usually that involves people. Sometimes it involves some sort of technology that you’re going to use, but usually mostly people.

So I have my group of people I’m always going to have be with when I do a team, and Ken has  has his group of people who will be with him.

To answer your question. People have been working on this project for two years or so already, and, some of them are employed elsewhere, and therefore it would be inappropriate to mention their names. They are people that we will be plugging in straight away as soon as we start.

Q – Have you been inundated by people in the Charlotte area looking for work?

A – Between Ken and myself, we’ve actually had over a thousand people apply for work with us. Some are actually offering to work for nothing. Now, I would say about 15 percent of that is people on the East Coast of the United States. Mainly 75 percent is from outside America. Of that American percent, quite a lot are from the East Coast, and not as many from the West Coast The bulk is from outside the United States. People wanting to combine the best of both worlds. Working in Formula One and being in America. That’s what they want – most people in Formula One anyway. And when you’ve been traveling around the world being in Formula One for ten years, five years or whatever it is, and you have to go back to dreary old Milton Keynes in England, it’s kind of nice to leave the wife and family in Charlotte, North Carolina, and have the best of both worlds. I think a lot of it is that. But a lot of it is also people loving the idea of a brand new team starting the right way, hopefully.

I say the right way. We may be completely wrong about all of this, but at least Ken and I have been around long enough to have our own ideas about how to do a race team and think we can do it reasonably well. And we can do a pretty good job of it. And the team will be run that way. We’re not talking in terms of a rich person coming into Formula One and wanting to be there because it’s sexy or glamorous, or whatever it is. And then just doing it in the European way – buying an existing team or creating something in Europe. We’re talking about two racing guys doing it the way that’s logical in the Skunk Works fashion.

Q – Define Skunk Works

A – Skunk Works is actually a trademark to describe a system of management. It’s derived from the top part of the Lockheed division which built the spy planes, the Steal bomber, lots of wonderful aircraft and also some ships as well. And that was run in a very efficient way even within the aircraft industry, such as McDonnell Aircraft and Boeing. It was a very very small number of the best possible people and there are 14 key rules of the Skunk Works principles. And virtually all of those are principles we are adopting for our race team.

Q – Did you consider the Carl Haas Beatrice model.

A – I was working at Williams at the time when Beatrice was running. I was somewhat impressed with Beatrice. Several of our good Williams engineers left to go work for Carl at double the salary. That was really the first time I was aware of the propensity for some people in this world to spend money like water. I’m not referring to Carl now, I’m referring to Beatrice and how basically just came in and basically doubled the salary of the Williams engineers. Interestingly the team failed. And that was also a lesson. You can’t just create something just because you have a lot of money.
It’s got to be right from the start –  the right people doing the right thing for the right reason, growing organically. Buying success sometimes fails. As we saw, for example, with the Parnelli Super F1 team launch in 1974 (through 1976) with JOE LEONARD, AL UNSER, and Viceroy sponsorship. MARIO ANDRETTI was the driver. And that had everything in it. But it didn’t amount to much at the end of day, achieved little success. It’s the organic growth and getting good people to work together harmoniously that actually achieve success. Look at all the best F1 teams, indeed most of the companies in the world – they’ve all grown that way. And the minute they get taken over and they exponentially expand. It usually goes down hill. Not always but usually.

Q – So you’re going to start out lean and mean, as you say?

A –  Not start out that way. We’re always going to be lean and mean