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US F1 doubts intensify

NEWS STORY
18/02/2010

There is increasing speculation that US F1 is on the verge of admitting that it will not be in Bahrain for the season opener and will indeed fail to appear at all this season.

In recent days a number of stories have appeared on the radar including the fact that its Charlotte HQ is up for sale and talk of 'partner' (YouTube founder) Chad Hurley taking his sponsorship money elsewhere.

Now there are reports of a tearful Peter Windsor telling driver Jose Maria Lopez, his father and F1 TV producer Felipe McGough, that the team will not be on the grid in Bahrain and therefore the entire season, this particular revelation coming from Adam Cooper a close associate of Windsor.

Meanwhile, the team's co-founder, Ken Anderson, has admitted: "It's always a struggle for new teams, any new business," according to Sport Business, adding, "Yeah, a couple sponsors have let us down a little bit, but we're on track".

Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, a source claims: "The bottom line is really simple: Sponsor money didn't come through the way it was supposed to and it has grinded down the company to a halt. They're having trouble making payroll, they're having trouble paying suppliers and that's the situation they find themselves in."

To many this won't come as news but merely confirmation of something that has been suspected all along, that despite the hyperbole US F1 was never going anywhere.

The team's dealings with the media have been woeful, for some strange reason choosing to be reactive as opposed to proactive, it is surely no coincidence that the biggest public burst of media activity from the North Carolina outfit came within hours Bernie Ecclestone's sceptical comments just before Christmas.

Quite why the team chose to cherry pick its media connections is unclear, then again - as witnessed during the Donington debacle - some media outlets are more gullible than others while some journalists and publications are more than happy to carry out PR work dressed as 'news'.

However, had US F1 been a bit more honest and open and worked with the media they might have found a little more sympathy. As Pitpass recently pointed out to the American team failing to work with the media is not good for anyone and certainly isn't going to go down well with existing or potential sponsors.

All along, Windsor has continued to insist that all was well. "We will be in Bahrain," he defiantly told Autosport recently. "We may not be pretty, but we will be there. And from there we will grow. This is all about belief, passion and people being committed to a very good cause."

However, other than the overturning of the team's commitment to nurturing American talent, we were confused only yesterday when told by a respected long-serving member of the media that attends every race that despite his role with US F1, Windsor expected to continue his TV work for the Speed Channel this year, admittedly "playing a smaller part than in previous seasons".

Last week, a source close to the FIA was equally sceptical of US F1's chances, admitting to Pitpass that it was highly doubtful the American team would be ion the grid this season.

Consequently, despite the hype, the crash tests, the early deposit lodged with the FIA, the chest thumping patriotism and the YouTube videos, it appears that the US F1 dream may be dead before the team even turned a wheel.

Sadly, if this proves to be the case, it is the sport and its fans which are the losers, because at a time when we are considering Stefan GP as the only viable option, we might have had the prospect of Prodrive, Lola or Epsilon Euskadi entering the sport.

"We're just two guys that want to go racing, and we're not trying to pretend we're going to reinvent the wheel or do anything different," said Windsor recently. "We just want to have fun and let everybody share the ups and downs of this team."

The same might well be said of David Richards, Martin Birrane and Joan Villadelprat, however, they weren't gven the opportunity.

A1 GP has already been put out of its misery, perhaps now is the time to do the kind thing for US F1.

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