The FIA World Motor Sport Council has fined US F1 and banned the team from participating in any FIA championship as a punishment for its failure to appear in the 2010 Formula 1 season.
The American project was set to be one of the four new teams in this year's World Championship, but admitted shortly before the season opener that it would not be ready in time. A request to postpone its entry was denied by the FIA, which then announced it would consider whether to take punitive action against the Charlotte-based squad for breaking the terms of its entry by failing to race in the season opener.
In a hearing in Paris yesterday, US F1's representatives argued that its non-appearance had been a case of "force majeure" due to the period of uncertainty over the new Concorde Agreement and the proposed budget cap rules during mid-2009. It also suggested that negative comments about its chances of making the grid by Bernie Ecclestone had deterred potential sponsors. However the FIA rejected this suggestion.
"The WMSC considered US F1 had cooperated fully with the FIA in its investigation, and had been entirely open in answering the questions of the reporter," said the FIA's report from the hearing. "The WMSC, however, did not consider events of 'force majeure' were established in this case as there were no compelling supervening events but instead this was about a lack of funds. Nor did they accept statements from FOM [Formula One Management] had had any real material impact.
"Rather, they considered that the team, while well intentioned, had displayed poor financial management and had underestimated the requirement to present an F1 car for the 2010 season in the time and with the financial resources available to them.
"It was wholly unacceptable that the FIA was presented with only three weeks warning of the total non-appearance of the team at the Grand Prix in Bahrain and for the 2010 season, and WMSC members had real concerns about the impact on the championship, not least the deprivation of the opportunity for another team to have provided two cars to run in the championship in 2010 instead of US F1."
The FIA has fined US F1 309,000 euros ($379,500) – the equivalent of the championship entry fee – and ordered it to pay the costs of the FIA disciplinary process. It also disqualified the team, "which definitively deprives US F1 of the right to take part, in any way whatsoever, in any competition."
The remaining assets of US F1 were recently sold off at auction, where its sole tub netted less than $8,000.