FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting is visiting the USF1 headquarters to assess the team’s viability. While Whiting’s visit hasn’t been confirmed by either the FIA or USF1, it’s understood that the team is making eleventh hour efforts to resuscitate its franchise.
Rumors have been rife that the team’s primary backer, YouTube founder Chris Hurley, is scrambling to cobble together a rescue deal that might see a merger of Campos and/or Stefan GP, the latter being the Serbian team that has taken over Toyota’s program, and is waiting in the wings for a vacancy on the grid.
As a USF1 insider recently told Autosport, “We feel Hurley and Parris Mullins [adviser to Hurley] have our best interest [at heart] and also feel Hurley has no intention of abandoning us even though the media has said he’s gone with Campos.”
This statement refers to a parallel rumor which has Hurely abandoning the ESF1 ship in favor of the other newbie team, Campos, which is encountering its own share of launch difficulties.
Meanwhile, it seems that USF1’s trials have come as somewhat of a surprise to team principal, and former Speed TV commentator, Peter Windsor. According to the USF1 insider, “In a meeting between the employees, Windsor and Anderson, Windsor put the question up to the employees, ‘Who here doesn’t think we’ll make Bahrain?’ I think he might have meant it somewhat rhetorically, but he was answered nonetheless, and 100 per cent of the staff raised their hands. He was visibly shocked.”
It seems that USF1 has been beset be a self-reinforcing series of setbacks involving finding failures and production delays. When sponsorship commitments failed to materialize, production was delayed; and when production was delayed, this made sponsors balk with funding. The net result is that the team doesn’t have a race-ready car. In fact, they haven’t been able to make payroll consistently for the 60 odd staff they still have on the books.
Unless the FIA finds a way to apply emergency triage, or Bernie Ecclestone decides to organize a charity benefit for the beleaguered team, it looks increasingly likely that the first U.S. based F1 team to be assembled in nearly 30 years is about to fade into history before it even fully materialized.
Image (c) Craig Scott