Welcome back fellow race fans to a special Fourth of July edition of the Slipstream.
To those of you who inquired about my absence from the site I appreciate the concern and now that things have been squared away, the Slipstream is back and ready to carry all motor sports fans through the summer sizzle to the fall finales.
This week in the spirit of American independence I will profile the efforts and legitimacy of the USF1 project.
After two months of pure unfiltered Schadenfreude, the Forumla One world seems to have got it's groove back, or at least that is how things appear to be. The FOTA war has been averted just as the GPWC war was averted earlier this decade. The same players, plus Ferrari this time, fighting it out with mad Max and the FIA for some say in the future of F1.
That is for another article however.
Soon to be World Champion, Jenson Button seems to have his hands full with a Red Bull team that seems determined not to give up just yet. Although they have the fight to press on, the numbers are not in their favor. I commend the team formerly known as Jaguar/Stewart GP for their zeal, but this year will belong to Brawn and I doubt anyone of us in this community saw that coming. Yes, there was early season hype, but this is Schumacher-esque domination, not the wide open crap shoot this column predicted.
Announced in the middle of the worst economic crisis to hit since the end of World War II, the US F1 team was met with heavy criticism, and a few laughs from this writer. While admirable in approach, after the Honda with drawl and threatened pull out of several more teams, a new team under the red white and blue seemed like the last thing on anybody's mind.
The last size able effort to give the United States any kind of representation on the grid was the botched Red Bull Driver Search.
Heck, I remember those snazzy commercials claiming that Red Bull will find the next American world champion. That program gave Americans a driver in Scott Speed, and to be honest I was proud to see the Stars and Stripes back on the F1 grid. A season and a half later, along with physical altercations with team boss Gerhard Berger, Speed was out of Toro Rosso and into the hootin and hollering field of US oval track racing.
Fast forward a few seasons, and one recession later, and we have the snazzy looking logo of USF1, or USGPE pasted over the SPEED channel, and a press conference justifying rumors made about the team only days before.
This project is real, but is it legitimate?
In regards to logistics this team is far behind the curve ball. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina but with the main center of operations in the UK, this team has good intentions but will be hard pressed to gain any kind of synergy or momentum for quite some time. Will the team test in the United States? Information around these sort of details was sparse to come by, which unto itself is a little troubling. If this team is to become the de facto national team, it must have the infrastructure capable enough to take the fight to the teams it is trying to fight against.
While there is no doubt in the power the team will have behind their drivers and chasis, which we have seen more critical than ever. Commercial backing is another challenge this new team must face. Rumors indicate that YouTube will be on board with the team in some kind of capacity. With the lack of a US Grand Prix, and other major series screaming for sponsorship, the Charlotte based squad will have to have deep pockets and reserves if they wish to gain face globally, as well as with the domestic US fan base.
The largest and most difficult decisions will have to come in regards to the drivers.
I hope that the powers that be do not screw this up. Screwing up would be putting either Danica Patrick, and or Kyle Busch on the team in any capacity. Now I am not saying put Marco and Grahm on the team either, but either of those two would be much better picks than the walking hissy fit known as Patrick, or the smug crass spoiled child who thinks he is fighting the world every time Darrell Waltrip scream "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity."
If they want to put a female on the team, be my guest.
Sarah Fisher, Katherine Legge, Susie Stoddartt, or Vanina Icyxx would be far better choices than the woman who always finds herself whining to the cameras about what could have been rather than what actually happened. Heck, Anna Beatriz in the Indy Lights would be a perfect pick if they wanted a female racer.
Colin Braun, Scott Sharp, Patrick Long, the aforementioned Marco Andretti, and Grahm Rahal are much more sound investments than the driver known as "Shrubbie" to some and a name to others that cannot be written. I just couldn't get over the look on that kid's face when Jeff "Too Tan" Hammond mentioned that USF1 was looking into him. Call it personal bias, call it whatever you want, but leave that kind of garbage in NASCAR where they feed off of each other.
As Jacques Villeneuve said recently, "there are no warriors in F1 anymore, save for Alonso or Kimi". With Shrubbie or Danica on board there wouldn't only be an absence of warriors, but there would be an absence of credibility and legitimacy the USF1 effort needs in these early stages.
So there you have it race fans, the Slipstream has returned and returned with an impact. I welcome back my long time readers and any new fans I may pick up. Watch for my other articles in the NASCAR section and on racing in general. Next week I will pick up where I left off with a synopsis of the last few months, but with a Slipstream twist.
Happy Fourth to the US readers and I hope everybody enjoys their week no matter where they may be.
See you in Germany.