Thursday, December 17, 2009

USF1 Driver Selection

With the new and returning Formula One teams confirming and signing drivers, I would like to see the USF1 squad give a real tangible signal of progress. Although they are in talks with Jose Maria Lopez, that seems well short of landing a driver. Sauber have signed Kamui Kobayashi, Virgin and Lotus have their driver pairings, Campos has Bruno Senna and may land Pedro De la Rosa.

What are the available options that would be nice to have at USF1? Well, we know that they are looking to have NASCAR ace, Kyle Busch in 2011 and we know that the team is high on Jonathan Summerton, who has been driving in A1GP, Atlantic Championship and Indy Lights the past few seasons. He is someone they may have 2011, and maybe this year. Nevertheless, since we know that they are not married to having Americans in the seats for 2010 it would seem that finding a pair of drivers should not be a major undertaking. Admittedly, this may be one reason that they have not rushed it. Also, the car is not ready and there is no testing. Some can validly argue that at this point of the team's life they should be focused on securing top talent in the coming years...hence talk of Kyle Busch.

Again all valid points, but in my opinion it is hard to generate some excitement when there is no public face (i.e. a driver) to get galvanized about. There is no sense of momentum, and if we have learned anything about Formula One it is that drivers are not plug and play devices; relationships matter. The rules in place for refueling and the need for improved tire management might be a perfect transfer of skills for a NASCAR driver of Busch's abilities, but of course they need drivers for 2010. Maybe Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson are simply looking for drivers to keep the seat warm until the coming years when they have a season under their belt, economic conditions to improve, a return of a USGP to where they can push for higher quality drivers.

The Skunkworks approach as it relates to reduced bureaucracies, having small groups of highly effective people, the use of outside vendors, and keeping a veil of secrecy is fine for the team structure. But I think they should be more public about who are potential candidates. I would love to hear news that Sebastien Bourdais or Takuma Sato are in the running because the names linked so far to this project have been less than exciting.

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