FEBRUARY 4, 2009

Thoughts on a US Formula 1 team

The idea that there might be a US Formula 1 team is very attractive for the sport. The United States remains the world's biggest consumer market and the sponsors in F1 are keen to get a higher profile over there, something which F1 has consistently failed to do for them.

The idea is fine. On paper the costs involved are going to drop. Engines and gearboxes will be cheaper, aerodynamic development and on-track testing will be reduced. There are entries available. It is all quite possible if one has $100m to spend.

But who has $100m at the moment?

In the current economic climate, it is tough for any team, even the mighty Ferrari, to raise money. Ask the commercial people in F1 how things are going and they will shake their heads. They can try, they say, but the market is not moving. It is still contracting with sponsors departing, rather than there being any signs of improvement. People are not spending.

Thus it is hard to imagine where the funding for a US F1 team would come from. Perhaps there are high-worth individuals willing to invest some money, but will they pay the kind of money we are talking about? And will they pay the running budgets as well? And if there were such people out there, surely they would have bought the Honda Racing F1 operation by now because that has everything they need and is available for next to nothing. It is the bargain of the century for those with money to spend.

In the cynical world of Formula 1 no-one is expecting any new teams to come marching into the sport.