OP-Ed – USF1 Denies; Stefan Delivers

The soap opera that is the new teams and the potential 14th grid slot has seen two updates the last 24 hours that doesn’t make the situation any easier.

As of the middle of this week we all thought the USF1 project was in a serious state of collapse. This very well may be true but it has not stopped the boys based in Charlotte from refuting the rumors. According to USF1’s twitter account, the team is “not gone” and we are to “have news soon”. Are you serious? Less than a month before the season we have no car, one driver, no crash test, and people falling off the planet and there will be news soon. What does this mean? Are the rumors about a Campos Merger true? Perhaps the cars are done and all this negative criticism was unnecessary, or we can take the facts for what they are and that is from the outside looking in we have nothing. As has mentioned on a number of sites, how would a merger benefit the teams? Todd from Formula1blog.com made a great point on the contract issue facing Mr. Hurley. A merger between Campos and USF1 would satisfy the Spanish teams need for funds to acquire their Dallara chassis and keep Chad from going under the bus with some his creditors and equipment suppliers. One of the problems that is facing Formula 1 is the fact that USF1 is on the Concorde agreement and also part of the FOTA group. So unfortunately, no matter how terrible the team is doing or how little progress they have actually made, the team has a legal say so and block certain things that require a 100% vote. One of these items is the 14th team on the grid that Stefan is pushing for. The Serbian team did take a step in showing the FiA and the world that they are ready and they do mean business.

Zoran Stefanovic and Stefan GP put a little added pressure on USF1 this morning when their 2010 contender roared to life. The SF01 is alive and well and ready for testing at the end of the month. The car is the result of what Toyota designed prior to bowing out of the sport last fall. The one thing that the Serbian team lacks at the moment is track time and a tire supply deal. The track time however is scheduled for the end of this month at the Portimao circuit. While no driver has officially been signed, Kazuki Nakajima is with the team. No doubt a part of the Toyota design and building deal, Nakajima will add his experience from a rather quick Williams team to the mix. Stefanovic also indicated that ink was about to hit paper for 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. That would be a leg up on the situation for USF1 for sure. Stefan GP may have seemed ill when they decided to push ahead with plans to run in the 2010 championship, however now they appear to be prophets that are very near to realizing their goal of competing.

This raises a question in my mind. When does the FiA pull the plug on the USF1 deal? It is obvious they do not plan to fold their operation, but they have nothing to put on track. When does the FiA look at the situation and then give the green light to Stefan to send cars and crew to Bahrain? This is certainly something that needs to be announced sooner rather than later I would think. When will we see FiA inspectors raiding Charlotte in search of a grand prix car or any sign of life really? This has already led to a number of conspiracy theories regarding one Bernie Ecclestone and the troubled American outfit. Those theories are conspiracy and nothing more at this point. The ball is in USF1’s court now and how they choose to answer it will define the next couple of weeks. Make no mistake about it however, an answer is needed and sooner rather than later.

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