It's a simple question with a simple answer. Is USF1 in serious danger of not making the 2010 grid? We've seen very little from USF1. But does that mean they've got no chance?
In fact, as things stand right now, it looks pretty good. What matters isn't so much what we know about USF1 on it's own, but a combination of that with what we DON'T know about USF1, AND what we know about the Acura ARX-02a.
People have pointed to the lack of a wind tunnel model as proof that USF1 is doomed. If they aren't wind tunnel testing, what hope do they have?
Well, for that we look to the aforementioned Acura ARX-02a. A car designed ENTIRELY in CFD. Wirth Research, the firm that designed and built the cars, abandoned wind tunnel testing early on after verifying the accuracy of the CFD numbers.
From then on, everything was done in computer: airflow measuring, crash testing, and even TRACK testing.
And when cars were finally built and put through their crash tests, track tests, etc., everything matched up to the computer numbers. Computer design has come so far that race car designers can build a highly competitive car solely in a computerized environment.
It's a cheaper method as well, what with there being need to produce parts only after all design phases are complete.
A German publication recently claimed that USF1 has not been crash testing—a claim which Peter Windsor has denied. Notably, Windsor did not specify whether they were doing virtual crash testing or if they had produced actual parts to test.
Either way, the fact that there is some sort of testing underway indicates that USF1 has made progress.
So what are USF1's chances of making the grid? Too early to tell for sure, so I'll give them 50/50 until the end of November. Why the end of November? Because that's when USF1 has promised a rolling chassis by.
And rightfully so—if they can't get a rolling chassis done by then, their chances of making the 2010 grid will be slim. But if they DO, their chances are almost 100 percent.
The Acura ARX-02a tells us that USF1 may be taking an approach that is new to F1. It's an approach that's proven to be capable of working right, but it seems to me that many of the F1 followers in Europe don't like the idea of a different way working.
Did you know that almost every negative story about USF1 was first published in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport? This publication really seems to have it in for USF1.
There's certainly no reason to expect USF1 will definitely make the grid next year, but there's likewise no reason to suspect they WON'T. So if you don't have a good reason to be pessimistic, then don't be spreading rumors like Auto Motor und Sport enjoys doing.
USF1 may end up dying out after only a season or two in F1, but you never know. Their radical approach just might make them the best of the new teams, at the very least.
After all, the Acura ARX-02a might not be able to beat the diesels, but it conquers everything else in the series. It appears that USF1 is doing things the same way Acura did.
And if that's true, there's only one reason why we shouldn't expect USF1 to be just as all-conquering: Acura had LMP2 information to build off of when designing the ARX-02a.
But on that note, did you know the first ARX-02a rolling chassis wasn't completed until Dec. 2008? Considering that modern LMPs are just about as complex as modern F1 cars, I'd say the Acura ARX-02a gives us a LOT of reasons to be optimistic about USF1.
Three weeks. Then we find out how good USF1's chances REALLY are.