Tag Archives: USF1

FIA fines and disqualifies USF1

USF1 have been fined €309,000 for failing to race this year

USF1 have been fined €309,000 for failing to race this year

The FIA World Motor Sport Council has announced that they have fined the USF1 team €309,000, and disqualified them from competing in any FIA championship, for failing to make the grid this year. The team had pulled out 3 weeks before the season opener, saying that they would not be ready in time.

The American project was set to become one of the 4 teams to compete in the 2010 Formula 1 season, but they failed to make the grid, because of a lack of sponsors, and their car was not ready. They requested the FIA to postpone their entry until the 2011 season, but the FIA rejected this proposal, seeing as the other teams were on course to make the grid. After USF1 pulled out, the FIA soon announced that they would be taking action against the team, as they had broken the terms of their entry.

USF1 representatives attended a hearing in Paris yesterday. In their defence, they argued that the period of uncertainty, caused by the Concorde Agreement and proposed budget cap rules during the 2009 season, had hampered their efforts. They also suggested that Bernie Ecclestone was deterring sponsors from the team, after making negative comments about them.

The FIA rejected all of these suggestions, saying that:

"The WMSC considered US F1 had cooperated fully with the FIA in its
investigation, and had been entirely open in answering the questions
of the Reporter.

The WMSC however did not consider events of 'force majeure' were
established in this case as there were no compelling supervening
events but instead this was about a lack of funds.

Nor did they accept statements from FOM [Formula One Management]
had had any real material impact.

Rather they considered that the team, whilst well-intentioned, had
displayed poor financial management and had underestimated the
requirement to present an F1 car for the 2010 season in the time
and with the financial resources available to them.

It was wholly unacceptable that the FIA was presented with only
three weeks warning of the total non-appearance of the team at the
Grand Prix in Bahrain and for the 2010 season, and WMSC members had
real concerns about the impact on the championship, not least the
deprivation of the opportunity for another team to have provided
two cars to run in the championship in 2010 instead of US F1.

The FIA has fined US F1 309,000 euros, the equivalent of the
championship entry fee and ordered it to pay the costs of the FIA
disciplinary process, and disqualified the team, "which definitively
deprives US F1 of the right to take part, in any way whatsoever, in
any competition."

Also, after having read the full WMSC report (link at bottom), it seems that USF1 were not very clear on their budget either. In December 2009, when doubts were growing over them competing in 2010, USF1 claimed that they had $26m of sponsorship money, under 3 different binding contracts, meaning that they didn’t have it yet, but the binding contract would force them to get it. However, the FIA found out that only one of these contracts were binding ($8m), meaning that the other $18m was not actually binded to USF1.

Because of this lack of sponsorship money, USF1 did not have enough capital to build their cars and spares, as the report explains:

"USF1 was unable to produce its race cars and necessary spares in 
the time available. This was a result of lack of adequate and 
timely capital investment combined with sponsorship arrangements 
which did not com to fruition or were terminated. This caused a 
delay in construction of the cars and equipment."

The Entry Fee for competing in Formula 1 is €309,000. This is a deposit for the FIA, and is later added to the deposit paid to Cosworth for their engines. USF1 had paid the Entry Fee, given the deposit to Cosworth, and also made the first payment under their contract (even though USF1 had previously stated that they did not want to use the Cosworth engines).

The FIA found out that after all of this, USF1 had “little or no financial liquidity”. The FIA were then advised that a new fine to the team would be pointless, as their lack of liquidity would mean that they would probably be unable to pay. Therefore, they were advised that “at the very least” they should force USF1 to forfeit their Entry Fee.

At the end of their report, the FIA fined USF1 €309,000 (in other words, make them forfeit their Entry Fee), disqualifying them from any taking part in any competition whatsoever (no timeframe specified), and force them to pay the FIA’s costs for this inquiry. USF1 have 7 days to appeal.

In my opinion, this is very good news. It is absolutely unacceptable that a team could pull out with only 3 weeks to go, leaving another prospective team without a space on the grid. Their situation spiralled out of control in late 2009, yet they continued to claim they would make the grid, up to February 2010. The team and investors have lost approx. €20m in total from this failed attempt to enter F1, because of poor financial management, and a lack of knowledge of the sheer effort required to enter Formula 1.

While this never should have happened in the first place, this is a good response from the FIA, considering the sheer farce of USF1′s attempt to enter F1.

Brawn GP trailers up for sale on eBay

Jenson Button's Brawn GP trailer, up for sale on eBay

Jenson Button's Brawn GP trailer, up for sale on eBay

Fancy a massive piece of Formula 1 for your own?  Then check this out: two Brawn GP trailers have been put up for sale on eBay.

Now, they weren’t Brawn’s to sell. They actually belonged to USF1, but as they collapsed, their assets were seized by the High Court (owned!). They were taken after a UK creditor, who cannot be identified for obvious reasons, wanted compensation for USF1 failing to pay their bills. David Carter, director of the Sheriffs Office, said:

"As a keen motorsport fan, it is certainly one of the more 
interesting seizures we've made. The trailers were recently 
bought from Brawn GP by the judgment debtor and really are 
something special. We've already has a lot of interest and 
are now selling them via eBay.

It would certainly be an interesting piece to a Formula 1 collection. But be prepared to fork out quite a lot of money: with 3 days and 17 hours left, the price is already £16,970! If you fancy following the auction anyways, then check it out here. There’s two more pictures here:

No idea what this is, but it comes with the trailer!

No idea what this is, but it comes with the trailer!

Could do with better styling, but it's part of Formula 1 history now!

Could do with better styling, but it's part of Formula 1 history now!

FIA opens applications for 2011, and may punish USF1

Following a meeting of the World Motor Sports Council in Sakhir, Bahrain today, the FIA has decided to open for applications to be the 13th team in the 2011 championship.

As well as this, it has been decided that there will be a reserve team, just in case the new team cannot compete or an existing one drops out. Seems like they’re trying to make sure this year’s mistakes don’t happen again. Some of the unsuccessful teams to apply last year were Prodrive, Lola, Epsilon Euskadi, N.Technology and Stefan Grand Prix, nearly all of which shouls consider reapplying.

Also, the FIA has stated that they may decide to punish USF1 for not being able to compete in F1 this year. Their statement reads as follows:

"With regard to the USF1 team’s non-participation in the 2010 championship, 
the World Council mandated the FIA President, in full compliance with the 
new code of practice for disciplinary matters, to take forward the most 
appropriate action."

Good choice. USF1 was badly run and set up, and should be shot for embarrassing the F1 world with their failures. A massive fine should do the trick.

Stefan GP not on FIA 2010 entry list

Stefan GP’s bid to enter the 2010 F1 world championship appears to have failed, as the team does not appear on the FIA’s entry list for 2010.

With only 8 days until practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Stefan GP were hoping that they could take the place of the fallen USF1 team. However, they do not appear in the new entry list, which is the final one before the season starts.

Also, this is the first time that Sauber have appeared on the entry list, as the list had not been updated recently until now. Campos Meta now appears as HRT Cosworth, while Bruno Senna is still listed as the only driver for the team.

The FIA has made the following statement:

"The USF1 Team have indicated that they will not be in a position to 
participate in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship. Having 
considered the various options, the FIA confirms that it is not 
possible for a replacement team to be entered for the Championship 
at this late stage.

In the coming days the FIA will announce details of a new selection 
process to identify candidates to fill any vacancies existing at the 
start of the 2011 season."

This means that, instead of now, they will wait until 2011 to look at accepting a new team to fill USF1′s shoes, which may include Stefan GP.

Full FIA entry list:

No. Driver Team Constructor
1
2
Jenson BUTTON (GBR)
Lewis HAMILTON (GBR)
VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
3
4
Michael SCHUMACHER (DEU)
Nico ROSBERG (DEU)
MERCEDES GP PETRONAS FORMULA ONE TEAM (DEU) Mercedes Benz GP Limited
5
6
Sebastian VETTEL (DEU)
Mark WEBBER (AUS)
RED BULL RACING (AUT) Red Bull Racing Renault
7
8
Felipe MASSA (BRA)
Fernando ALONSO (ESP)
SCUDERIA FERRARI
MARLBORO (ITA)
Ferrari
9
10
Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Nico HÜLKENBERG (DEU)

AT&T WILLIAMS (GBR) Williams Cosworth
11
12
Robert KUBICA (POL)
Vitaly PETROV (RUS)
RENAULT F1 TEAM (FRA) Renault
14
15
Adrian SUTIL (DEU)
Vitantonio LIUZZI (ITA)
FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND) Force India Mercedes
16
17
Sébastien BUEMI (CHE)
Jaime ALGUERSUARI (ESP)
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (ITA) STR Ferrari
18
19
Jarno TRULLI (ITA)
Heikki KOVALAINEN (FIN)
LOTUS RACING (MAL) Lotus Cosworth
20
21
TBA
Bruno SENNA (BRA)
HRT F1 TEAM (ESP) HRT Cosworth
22
23
Pedro DE LA ROSA (ESP)
Kamui KOBAYASHI (JPN)
BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM (CHE) BMW Sauber Ferrari
24
25
Timo GLOCK (DEU)
Luca DI GRASSI (BRA)
VIRGIN RACING (GBR) Virgin Cosworth

Note: The USF1 Team have indicated that they will not be in a position to participate in 2010.

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.

Ferrari rant attacks new teams

On their official website, Ferrari has attacked Max Mosley, the former FIA president, and the new teams entering Formula 1 this year.

Their statement is as follows:

Only less than three weeks to go until the ultimate form of motor
sport, the Formula 1 World Championship, gets underway, while
celebrating its sixtieth birthday this year. For many of the teams,
this coming week is a crucial one, as the bell rings to signal the
final lap, with the last test session getting underway in Barcelona.
It is one last chance to run the cars on track, to push reliability
to the limit and to try and find some performance. That’s the
situation for many teams but not for all of them. Of the thirteen
teams who signed up, or were induced to sign up, for this year’s
Championship, to date only eleven of them have heeded the call,
turning up on track, some later than others, and while some have
managed just a few hundred kilometres, others have done more, but
at a much reduced pace. As for the twelfth team, Campos Meta, its
shareholder and management structure has been transformed, according
to rumours which have reached the Horse Whisperer through the
paddock telegraph, with a sudden cash injection from a munificent
white knight, well used to this sort of last minute rescue deal.
However, the beneficiaries of this generosity might find the knight
in question expects them to fulfil the role of loyal vassal. All
this means, it is hard to imagine the Dallara designed car showing
its face at the Catalunya Circuit, with Sakhir a more likely venue
to witness the return of the Senna name to a Formula 1 session.

The thirteenth team, USF1, appears to have gone into hiding in
Charlotte, North Carolina, to the dismay of those like the
Argentinian, Lopez, who thought he had found his way into the
Formula 1 paddock, (albeit with help from chairwoman Kirchner,
according to the rumours) and now has to start all over again.
Amazingly, they still have the impudence to claim that everything
is hunky-dory under the starry stripy sky.

Next, we have the Serbian vultures. Firstly, they launched themselves
into a quixotic legal battle with the FIA, then they picked the
bones of Toyota on its death bed. Having got some people on board,
around whom there was still a whiff of past scandals, they are now
hovering around waiting to replace whoever is first to drop out of
the game, possibly with backing from that very same knight in shining
armour whom we mentioned earlier.

This is the legacy of the holy war waged by the former FIA president.
The cause in question was to allow smaller teams to get into Formula
1. This is the outcome: two teams will limp into the start of the
championship, a third is being pushed into the ring by an invisible
hand – you can be sure it is not the hand of Adam Smith – and, as
for the fourth, well, you would do better to call on Missing Persons
to locate it. In the meantime, we have lost two constructors along
the way, in the shape of BMW and Toyota, while at Renault, there’s
not much left other than the name. Was it all worth it?

Another Ferrari rant, and it gets more vicious every single time. Ferrari are in no position to criticise every single team, person and organisation that isn’t an exact replica of them. When Max Mosley left the FIA, we all expected relations between the teams and the FIA to get better. But, the team that makes themselves appear like the “good guys” now come out lashing at Mosley. While the other teams are looking forward to the future, Ferrari just seem to be wallowing in the past, just to take cheap shots at their enemies.

Then, they take their anger out at Campos, calling their cash injection supplier a “munificent white knight”. It’s called a buyout. After this, they take a little shot at Jose Maria Lopez, initaially referring to him just as “the Argentinian”. Ferrari can’t slag off other drivers, only 6 months after they start throwing around their own just to get a few points which they didn’t get anyway.

And, as for calling Stefan GP “vultures”, they aren’t in a position to talk. We are talking about a team which sat behind the FIA for years, poking them into making moves to benefit themselves, and they now seem to think that Stefan GP waiting for a team to drop out (when everyone knows at least one will) is worse. Having said that, they are right about the employees hired “with a whiff of past scandals”. We are of course referring to Mike Coughlan, the McLaren engineer who stole Ferrari data from Rob Smedley, and (supposedly, never proved) tried to sell it on to Renault. The thing is though, why would Ferrari drop criminal proceedings against him, and then whinge years afterwards? But Coughlan did pay Ferrari €180,000 in settlements to drop the case, so it’s all right. Pathetic.

FIA developing solutions with USF1

FIA

FIA

It is understood that the FIA are in negotiations with USF1 as to keep the new team competing in the sport this year. Currently, the Charlotte squad are in huge trouble, with an unfinished car, only one driver confirmed (who is being linked to another team), and a general lack of funds.

At the moment, USF1 wishes to skip the first 4 races, to develop their car, but this would break the Concorde Agreement, so other alternatives are being considered. If USF1 fail to get the first 4 races off, it would seem that they would have to drop out, so the FIA are currently looking at their options. American channel Speed TV explained the 4 options the team may have:

  • Getting a finished car from a supplier like Dallara (who supplied Campos)
  • Merging with another team
  • Skip races to develop car, but then face FIA penalties
  • Withdraw from this year’s championship and reapply for 2010

At the moment, according to Nick Craw, President of the FIA Senate, he explained to Speed TV that USF1 have currently only asked for confirmation on the race-skipping rule. This rule says that 3 Grands Prix can be forfeited in exchange for penalties afterwards. It is unclear whether these would be financial or points penalties.

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.

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