Exclusive: Q and A with Peter Windsor

Peter Windsor is an ex-team manager of Williams and one of the most respected F1 journalists on the block. But earlier this year he hit the headlines as one half of the proposed new USGPE F1 team project, which hopes to be on the F1 grid in 2010. He and Ken Anderson intend to build a team which showcases the best of American technological ingenuity, as well as providing a platform for the next generation of American drivers.

Here, Windsor gives an exclusive interview to Forumula1.com, in which he covers his new team, the United States and F1, and his tips for the season ahead…

Your experience as team manager with Williams will obviously help you with USGPE. What will be the exact division of responsibilities between you and Ken?
Ken will be Director of Engineering and I will be Sporting Director but we ll both be involved in all aspects of the team, from media and PR to marketing and graphic design, to coffee-making and car-cleaning.

F1 and the US have had many attempts at a relationship before, and none has succeeded. What makes you think USGPE will bridge the gap between F1 and the largely indifferent US public?
Our goal has never been to sell F1 to the US public (although there are many more F1 fans in the US than many people realize); with our team we intend to take the US to F1 to enable US technology and the greenback to have the postion they deserve on the global TV stage that is F1. If F1 isn t massively popular in the US in my view this is because F1 to date has not done a particularly good job of selling itself to the American public.

Can you see the Canadian GP returning, for example? It will be much missed this year.
I can see the US GP returning sooner rather than later; Canada? It s strange, for Europeans, to realize how much division there is in North America between the US and Canada. So one may not necessarily follow the other. And, if you think about it, the entire life of the Canadian GP at Montreal was based around the Villeneuve family….

Isn’t there a danger that F1 is becoming A1GP, if a team identifies with one country in particular and runs under its flag?
For me, the national element was the one of the good things that came out of A1GP. However, your suggestion implies that our drivers will be nameless members of a national team; on the contrary, Ken and I are driven by a desire to produce a platform for the next generation of American drivers. F1 is about entertainment and entertainment is about people foremost. And one other point: if you aren t going to be a car company in F1 then what is the next best thing? To my mind it s to be a country.

What do you make of the future of F1? The rise of Brawn GP and your promised entry in 2010 heralds a return to the dominance of independents, does it not?
Not so much the dominance of the independents but the contraction of the billion-dollar garage-mahals… I think F1 will become leaner and meaner with the accent still on technology. If you re planning to create an F1 team, you have three options find a massive car company and get them to pay all the bills; find a trillionaire and persuade him to spend a small fortune; or you can create a team that runs efficiently and cleanly with the minimum amount of the best possible people. Ken and I are choosing the latter route partly because we are devotees of the Skunk Works principle and partly because, these days, the chances of lucking into options one or two are about a billion to one!

Who’s your tip for success in Melbourne this year?
Can I say Mark Webber? What a story that would be. Broken leg, Aussie in the new Adrian Newey megacar…