Tag Archives: Ken Anderson

USF1 factory closes down

The now defunct USF1 factory

The now defunct USF1 factory

High level sources from USF1 have revealed that their Charlotte base was effectively shut down yesterday, as the employees were all laid off.

It is understood that just before lunchtime, production manager Dave Skog talked to the employees who had remained at the team (some had left), and told them that they were being put on unpaid leave, which technically means they’re still employed. This effectively means the end of the dreams for an American F1 team.

As well as the employees, the switchboard is not answering calls, saying that the number is temporarily not working. No emails to the team are being answered either.

Despite this, USF1 still need to be officially withdrawn from the championship before the FIA can look at giving Stefan GP the place. With Friday practice in Bahrain only 10 days away, it looks like a long shot for the Serbian team to get on the grid in time. It all depends on how quickly the FIA throw them out. Charlie Whiting visited the team’s factory last week, which must have showed him that they were incapable of getting the F1 car ready in time. So, hopefully, their entry will be abolished within a few days, and we can try and see can Stefan GP get into the championship in time.

USF1 offers compensation to miss season

USF1

USF1

The American racing channel Speed TV is reporting that USF1 gave offered the FIA a 7-digit compensation figure to miss the entire 2010 season.

The Charlotte outfit are not going to be able to make it onto the grid, and they are turning desperate. Speed TV are  calling it a “substantial 7-figure surety bond as proof of their intentions to race next year”. This money is being offered by Ken Anderson and Chad Hurley, who is the head of YouTube and a major partner of the team.

Update: I’ve removed this paragraph, simply because I got this part completely wrong. I had written this piece before the news came out that it was actually a surety bond. Which means that all my ramblings about bribes were complete rubbish, sorry about that, I know very little about surety bonds and the like.

Insider: Hurley can save USF1

An insider from the USF1 factory, who will remain anonymous, has said that a backer of USF1, Chad Hurley, has the best chance of saving the troubled team.

At the moment, the Charlotte squad are behind on their car development, lacking the funds to pay the bills, and have only one driver signed. This all points to bankruptcy and collapse.

Many people are looking to Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson to save the company. However, the insider, who can only be identified as a senior staff member, believes that Hurley is USF1′s best chance for survival:

"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.

"With all this talk about where US F1 is at, it's been missed that
there are 60+ people who have had to suffer through this for the
last two months. All of us left jobs and many of us travelled cross-
country for this opportunity.

"But having said that, throughout the turmoil, the team has really
come together and we're all committed to the project; precious few
have left in spite of the uncertainty of whether we'll be paid this
Friday. I've never seen such dedication. The US can field a F1 team,
in fact easily so after what I've seen."

However, it’s not as simple as that. The insider went on to explain, very strongly, about what went wrong at the base. He also blames Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor for certain failures of the team:

"All engineering decisions were having to be funneled through [Ken]
Anderson before anything could be signed off. And that's where the
hold up was."

"Tooling for the tub was completed in early December, but then it
sat for nearly a month before the laminate schedules for the outer
skin were approved."

"Now Anderson himself wasn't designing the laminate schedule, but
he was in the wings... as early as last October the production
manager was collared about the lack of resources, but the managers
were put off by saying: 'Well, Ken has a plan'."

"The irony of all this is that there has been precious little in the
way of formal planning and documentation. No production schedules,
simply very little in the way of planning."

"Our January 15 pay cheque was late. It was paid by the 20th or so,
but it certainly caused commotion and people started asking questions."

"That's when all the company's issues came to a head, and the
conclusion was... yes, we had been lied to about the long-term
budget, and indeed the company had a cash flow issue. But as
mentioned, that really was a secondary issue."

"Think of it this way, ignoring the fact that we were lied to about
the budget, if you don't have a car or can't show serious progress
in that direction, potential sponsors aren't going to have a tendency
to give you money."

"At the moment there are still 60 people working in Charlotte, but
10 have already left."

Then, he went on to talk about how the staff members felt about the project:

"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 Windsor 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."

Ken Anderson was challenged about this employee’s interview. Very quickly, he described it as “twisted and one-sided”. Judging by his response, I’d say Anderson has dealt with disgruntled employees like this before.

Peter Windsor can say what he likes, but if 100% of his employees think they will fail to get to Bahrain, the writing is on the wall for the team. It’s been a disaster year for them, and we’re still 3 weeks away from Bahrain.

USF1 asks to skip first 4 races

USF1

USF1

Team Principal Ken Anderson has revealed that his struggling USF1 team have asked the FIA to miss the first 4 races of the season.

In an interview with the New York Times, he said: “We’re working with the F.I.A. to clarify how many races we can miss. In an ideal world, we can miss the first four races and show up in Barcelona.”

Has he even been reading the news? The FIA have just clarified that teams are not allowed to miss any races, since that would break the Concorde Agreement. And the way he goes on about an “ideal world” just annoys me. In an ideal world, we would have new F1 teams that were actually capable of getting to the grid, not whingeing and begging for more time as their only driver (and not the best one either) is being linked to another team.

Oh, and they would actually build a car, instead of doing stupic press conferences going on about how they are going to make in to Bahrain, when clearly they aren’t.

Jose Maria Lopez confirmed at USF1

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Argetinian Jose Maria Lopez has been confirmed as a driver for USF1 for this season.

However, the fact that the deal was announced by the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, shows the politics behind the move. His political connections, such as Carlos Reutemann, show that it was more his influence than his driving prowess.

When asked about the move, Lopez said:

“This is a truly memorable day for me, my family and the people of Argentina.”

“I have been working towards this day for much of my life and I can’t thank Peter and Ken [Anderson] enough for this opportunity. Of course a new F1 team faces many challenges but our goal is to improve with each race and build a foundation that will eventually see this team competing for wins and championships.”

Peter Windsor explained why they signed him:

“We’ve been following his career since he dominated the Renault V6 Championship in 2003 and we’re thrilled to have him on board as we return America to Formula One.”

“Lopez is a consummate professional and born leader. The most revealing thing about his character was how he handled the disappointment of not racing for Renault after three years of testing with them in F1. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for himself, he returned to Argentina and totally dominated the local scene, winning 38 races and three championships. He became a major star as a result and, in turn, the Argentine nation – a country where F1 is second only to soccer – has got behind him.”

I’ve already said that I’m doubtful of Lopez’s driving ability, but I’d say he’s better than the last bunch of Argentinian drivers. Gaston Mazzacane was aeons off the pace in 2000 for Minardi and 2001 for Prost, and is well known for taking out his pit crew in Indianapolis 2000.

Then before that we had Esteban Tuero, in 1998 for Minardi. The only thing I can remember about him is his pit stop in, erm, Argentina.

Then we had Norberto Fontana, who is famous for holding up Jacques Villeneuve to try to help Michael Schumacher win the 1997 championship.

Hopefully Lopez is better than those lot, but I’m still doubtful whether he deserves the drive or not.

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