Team US F1 boss Ken Anderson has broken his silence about what went wrong at his outfit in its preparations for this year, as he keeps his hopes up that the Charlotte-based operation can try again to get on the grid for 2011.
Just prior to the FIA officially confirming for the first time that US F1 will not be racing this season, Anderson spoke to AUTOSPORT to explain how the team's preparations were rocked by the political battles – and the threat of an F1 breakaway series – which marred the 2009 season. But he says the final blow to the team came in the middle of January, when a key sponsor failed to fulfil its promises to the team and did not deliver expected funding.
"The way the chips fell in January, that put us behind," said Anderson, who revealed that talks had taken place with Campos, Stefan GP and Toyota in recent weeks to try and help his outfit get on the grid. "[Then] there was really no point in trying to show up any time this year once you have missed the testing, and there is no testing during the year.
"There is no point in trying to miss races and show up, just to show up," he added. "That would just look bad for everybody.
"It has been very difficult for all the new teams to get to the first tests – but once the racing season starts, with no testing, if you have problems it is just very difficult to solve them."
Anderson is still awaiting confirmation from the FIA about whether his team can get another entry for the 2011 championship, with an announcement expected in the next few days about what the application criteria will be. If US F1 does not get a swift go-ahead for 2011 then Anderson fears its operation may need to be shut down completely. If it does get a green light, though, then he is bullish about its prospects for next year.
"What we want to do is regroup, finish the car for 2011, be testing late summer/early fall (autumn), and be really ready for next year," he said. "The irony of the situation is, we filed our entry in December of 2008 and we were supposed to know something by March. We moved into this building [in Charlotte] in March, ready to go. Then, if you remember last year, that was when all hell broke loose with the FIA, FOTA, cost-cap teams versus non-cost-cap teams and all that.
"Everybody who wanted to get into F1, all the new teams, [they] tried to get in with the cost cap regulations... and we didn't get approved by the FIA until June 12. Then the Concorde Agreement wasn't signed to absolutely know that we could go forward until July 31. Losing those four months was always going to be difficult to recapture, but we were on schedule right up until mid-January, and that was when some issues arose with sponsors that kind of locked us up."
Anderson said he believed the FIA would not move to deliberately block US F1's plans for 2011 – although he was fearful about what the future would hold if it could not get a guaranteed entry soon. However, it is believed that the possibility of granting US F1 an automatic entry for 2011 has already been ruled out by the FIA.
"I think we will get a yes or no from the FIA relatively quickly," he said. "It doesn't do anyone any good to prolong this.
"They have been very understanding and very helpful – and no one is happy about the situation. I certainly don't get any impression that there is any vindictiveness or they want to shut us down. We have invested a lot of time and money, and built a proper F1 facility here, and have a lot of people carrying on it.
"If they [the FIA] turn us down, then we are done. We can do a really good job for next year. This year was going to be damage limitation anyway. We gave it our best shot, but once you get a little bit behind then there is no catching up. They understand [this]. We have offered solutions as to how we can be there for next year.
"A year ago they knew our business plan, and [FIA technical delegate] Charlie Whiting was here last week. We did what we said we were going to do. A couple of CFD people were here, parts were made, and companies made parts for us. There is no doubt we can make a car, the doubt is can we make it in the next 30 weeks - or however much time we needed to do it."
Anderson also confirmed that team partners Chad Hurley and Peter Windsor remained on board – despite various speculations in recent week about their future.
"The situation is that nobody has left anybody. Everybody is still on board. We were exploring different options – we weren't calling the press to say, 'Hey, we are going to talk to Campos.' We tried to keep it under wraps a little bit.
"We chat to Chad every day, and he has been great. Chad did everything he said he was going to do. He put the money in. He got us to where we could go racing. He never agreed to sponsor the team – and as you can imagine that is a pretty significant number in itself.
"As of January 15, we were right on course for where we said we were going to be. But then when the stuff did not show up, then the warning bells started sounding. I scrambled to keep it together, but I just couldn't do it quick enough.
"Peter has now gone back to England, but he lives there. He has stayed in a hotel here for the last three months.
"We are well and truly on hold until we hear from the FIA, because there really is nothing we can do. There is no point spending a lot of money finishing the car if they say no. If they say yes, then we can have everybody back by the end of the week."
Anderson claims that the team already has investors lined up to help fund its plans for 2011, but this would require it getting an entry. When asked if Hurley would continue his involvement if the team went forward, Anderson said: "Chad would participate. He would not put all the money in. We have other investors who want to buy into the company but it is in Chad's interest, if it keeps going, to stay involved. He is in, but he is not going to pay for the whole thing. We do have investors lined up to do that."
Full Q & A with Ken Anderson