North America will be without a Formula One race for the first time since 1987 with the Canadian Grand Prix being dropped from the 2009 calendar. But, a North American team look set to compete on the F1 track as early as next season. One of the figures behind the prospective American Formula One team has said that plans for USF1 are under way with a formal announcement expected later this month.
The FIA president Max Mosley also stated last week that there was potential for a American F1 team to enter the fray. Ken Anderson, one of the two principals of USF1, said the team would be based in the American city of Charlotte, adding that "95 per cent of what you might have seen" about the plans was true. Anderson has a long history in the IndyCar and Nascar series, and also spent some time as a technical director of the Ligier Formula One team in the late 1980s.
Reports suggest Anderson's partner in the USF1 enterprise is Peter Windsor, a former team manager for the Williams F1 team who also worked for Ferrari and is now a highly-respected journalist in the sport. Despite the Canadian GP being scrapped, Anderson believes America's presence in F1 makes sense as it is one of the key hubs of the global motor industry. He said: "All of the teams' sponsors want a presence here and American companies are going global. Formula One is the biggest television show in the world."
In the face of Formula One's stringent cost-cutting measures, Anderson feels there is a compelling cost-efficiency case for US-based team. He added: "Ninety per cent of the technology that exists in F1 comes from the US anyway." Mark Webber might still be sporting a limp just seven weeks ahead of the new Formula One season, but he is anticipating giving the sport's pace-setters a run for their money this year. Webber, along with new teammate Sebastian Vettel, yesterday took the wraps off Red Bull Racing's new challenger, the RB5, at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain.
The Australian, 32, will be behind the wheel today, just under three months after he broke his right leg in a cycling accident while competing in his own charity event in Tasmania. Webber, who had one of two titanium pins removed last week and has been undergoing cryogenic therapy to assist with healing, insists he will be fit for the season opener on home soil on March 29. "It's a given I'll be racing in Melbourne," Webber said. "I've raced with fractures before that some people didn't even know about. As for this one, it's still healing."
Meanwhile, Marco Melandri - his MotoGP future in doubt after Kawasaki pulled out - is switching to four wheels to race in the Speedcar series in Qatar this week. The Italian will team up with ex-Formula One driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, organisers of the Feb 12-14 stock car event said in a statement. Others competing include Canada's former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. * Agencies