Now, I’ll cheerfully admit to being an armchair F1 pundit. I don’t claim any special insight at all; rather, I follow the TV coverage and select online sources, and like to think I’m among the better-informed of the BBC’s viewers – nothing more, nothing less. I blog about it because commenting and speculating on F1 is one of its pleasures.
But one significant story has threatened to slip under my radar. For some time, the prospect of a USF1 team under the aegis of long-standing F1 journalist (his is the voice you usually hear in the post-race press conferences) and also ex-employee of Williams and Ferrari, has been in the offing. At the time of the contest for the new places on the grid, it appeared to be the best-established bidder apart from Dave Richards’ perennially ill-fated Prodrive effort. Its selection for 2010 was unsurprising.
But rumours have been circulating for some time that the team is making poor progress. It has trumpeted its novel location – America, plus a European base in Spain – and its supposedly cheap method of meeting in coffee shops and other non-business venues for conferences. And Windsor knows his F1 onions: this has reportedly been his dream for years; and he is joined in the endeavour by Ken Anderson, the technical boss who moved both Jordan and Stewart up the grid in the late 1990s.
So, where is the bad press coming from? Curiously, it has chiefly reached me via the Twitter account of Fake Max Mosley, one of the now too-numerous-to-follow Twitter clan of Fake F1 personalities. Fake Max is easily one of the most amusing, being wonderfully droll and sardonic and, frankly, worryingly plausible. Whoever runs the account also seems to be at least slightly well-connected – I’d be very interested to know who it is.
I’m sure there have been other more mainstream journalistic reports of the USF1 story, but this one caught my eye: it cites Ross Brawn, no less, expressing surprise at the American team’s lack of progress in crash testing so far. Another source quotes the chance of the team being ready to race as ‘zero’ and it is also reported that Windsor apparently wants to keep open the option of selling his entry to someone else.
My more regular F1 news sources have not yet reported this story (as far as I have seen – and I read them fairly thoroughly). It may be a bit speculative for the ‘straight’ news websites of the BBC and ITV (full marks to them for keeping their excellent F1 website running), but established journalists and bloggers Joe Saward and James Allen haven’t addressed the story either. And understandably so: as both men’s blogs make plain, the F1 world is small and the world of F1 journalists smaller still. They undoubtedly both know Windsor well, and will not unreasonably be hesitant to piss on his chips in public.
To be fair, the team are adamant that things are progressing as they should, and unless and until there is an announcement to the contrary it’s impossible to gainsay that with confidence. But if it does go wrong for them, it will surely take a lot of explaining.