It has been one year and six days since Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson officially announced their plans for US F1, an all-American effort to enter the hallowed tracks of Formula One. Subsequently accepted by the FIA (Federation Internationale d'Automobile) for the 2010 season last summer, the team's fortunes have been on a downward slope ever since, and today the team entered the critical care ward.
The team still does not have a chassis ready, and its capabilities had already been cut with staff reductions in recent weeks.
Things went from bad to worse today as the remaining staff at the team's facility in Charlotte, NC were told that they were being put on indefinite unpaid leave while the team goes through a reorganization. The laid-off staff are still technically employees of the team and will instead be eligible for state unemployment benefits.
Team principal Ken Anderson, however, was putting a brave face on things, saying that that the team had applied to the FIA to delay its entry into Formula One until the 2011 season. Such a delay is without precedent, however, and may be blocked by either FIA or FOTA (Formula One Teams Association).
The surety bond that will hold its position as a member of the Concorde Agreement will be funded by the team's primary backer: YouTube founder Chad Hurley. Despite earlier rumors, Hurley remains with the team after his negotiations to merge US F1 with Stefan GP came to nil last week.
At the same time, upstart Stefan GP, which purchased the designs and all rights to Toyota's future F1 challenger, is waiting in the wings, ready to take advantage of an opening on the grid.
Even if the FIA were to accept a delay until 2011, the team would face a Herculean task in finding sufficient funding for another attempt.
Meanwhile, the team's single signed driver, Jose Maria Lopez, has also deserted the team. Felipe McGough, his representative, told Ultima Vuelta, "We broke the contract with US F1."
"We met with Ken Anderson, Peter Windsor, the representatives of Chad Hurley and the team's lawyers," he continued. "It was a really complex situation because we had to get them to release us from the agreement taking into account the team will not be present in Bahrain and it will be very difficult for them to do so throughout the season due to the project's delays."
All the cards are now stacked against the team, and unavoidably a Monty Python sketch comes to mind. "It's only a flesh wound," claimed the Black Knight in the comedy troup's classic movie Holy Grail, even though he had already lost both of his arms and one leg. How severe are US F1's wounds, and can the team recover, against all odds?