With the recent news that the USF1 team will no longer be on the grid for 2010, it seems that Formula 1 has taken yet another hit in the United States, but that’s not to say that it is gone altogether. Even in a country whose motorsport genre is dominated by stock car racing, a small but dedicated contingent of F1 fans still fly the sport’s flags, though North America is only visited twice (or now once) a year.
F1 Management boss Bernie Ecclestone was prominently quoted on several occasions claiming that the sport didn’t need the United States to survive, but the fact is that when the U.S. Grand Prix was run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000 to 2007, the race was perennially one of the highest-attended events on the F1 calendar. Yet perhaps the biggest hit that the US fan base took came in 2005 when six cars (the only Bridgestone-clad cars on the grid) started the race after all the cars running Michelins boycotted due to safety concerns. For many in the crowd — including this author — that was inexcusable.
Why and how Team USF1 floundered is another story entirely. We’ll miss Peter Windsor, USF1’s principal, doing his “grid walk” on Speed TV before the races and handling post-race press conferences. But as an F1 team manager, he’s obviously got a lot to learn about financing and organization. Witness the sad end of the team’s trailer inventory, seized by creditors and listed for auction sale on eBay.
Of course, the team for a long time pretended otherwise. Check out this February 2009 “we’re not dead yet” Tweet.