Daily Archives: February 23, 2010

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.

Virgin replace Parente with Soucek

Andy Soucek

Andy Soucek

Virgin Racing have announced that Formula 2 champion Andy Soucek has been signed as their reserve and test driver for the season.

Initially, this role was handed to Alvaro Parente, who is currently racing in the GP2 Series. He was the former 2007 World Series by Renault and 2005 British F3 champion. However, his sponsors, the Portugese tourism institute, pulled out, leaving him with no sponsorship.

This means that Soucek will join Luiz Razia in the reserve squad in Virgin Racing. Soucek said today:

“I am thrilled to be joining Virgin Racing. This role offers me a great opportunity to prepare myself for the Formula 1 environment, which is naturally where my longer-term ambitions lie.”

“I look forward to learning from Timo and Lucas as well as soaking up as much information as possible from engineering meetings and time on the simulator. I would like to thank John Booth (Team Principal) and Nick Wirth (Technical Director) in particular for the faith they have shown in me at this stage in my career.”

Team Principal John Booth added:

“We are delighted to welcome Andy Soucek to Virgin Racing. He had a very good season in Formula 2 last year and a positive F1 test with Williams. He is certainly someone we have been keeping a close eye on, as we believe he has a great deal of potential. We expect him to be a real asset to our development programme with the VR-01 and at the same time he provides the experience we need, should he be required to deputise for one of the race drivers at short notice.”

It has always been my belief that after winning the F2 title last year, Soucek would find a way into F1. The problem is, how is he going to get any track time? Testing concludes after the next 4-day session in Barcelona, so he won’t get any running all year. Hopefully we can watch him develop in this year’s F2 championship.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers