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GP Week : Issue 95
the 'classic' regulations in force in 2008 and still basically in force today. I never liked the budget-cap idea. The concept of cars on the same grid running to two sets of technical regulations I think was, and is, unworkable -- as was proved, as I say, by the reluctance of the FOTA teams to supply engines. A lot of your marketing was around the belief that the US still has a major role to play in F1. What now is the future for American drivers? There's a rich seam of talent out there -- and many of the new stars want to make it to F1, as distinct from NASCAR or Indy. They're committing to it early. Look at Alexander Rossi, for example: he has a lot of momentum behind him; he is racing in Europe, and winning; and he is living in Italy, studying for college in his spare time. Conor Daly, Josef Newgarden, Jonathan Summerton, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, John Edwards, Charlie Kimball. It's a long list already -- and that doesn't include the guys I've probably forgotten plus some of the really experienced, polished drivers like Patrick Long and Alex Gurney. I'm surprised that more F1 teams aren't out there signing up the good young Americans as they come along. It's only a matter of time before F1 returns to the States, so where is the downside in investing in a young American driver and thus increasing your chances of working with American corporates? Why did no-one sign Danica Patrick a few years back? It's beyond me. She's probably the best female single-seater driver in the history of the sport, she's attractive, she works hard -- and yet no-one in F1 seemed to take her seriously. If BMW had raced Robert Kubica and Danica for the last few years would they have been any less successful? For sure they would have sold more cars in the States....but that's assuming America is still important to the F1 corporates. I assume it is, but you should never take anything for granted in F1 these days... Would you ever consider setting up another F1 team? If it was the right package -- by which I mean the right group of people and the right situation -- yes, certainly. For all that, I was very impressed with the decision made recently by Nicolas Todt. Of all the people I know, he is perfectly- positioned to start a new team. Yet he isn't doing so. Why? I think it is because he believes that F1 still has a long way to go -- and if anyone is perfectly-positioned to judge, it's Nicolas. Don't forget that we put USF1 together pre-recession, pre-budget-cap, pre-FIA-FOTA split. Now the world is very different. Now even the midfield F1 teams, let alone the new teams, are struggling to find sponsors. How did the problems affect you personally? Obviously I was very, very sad. Equally, I've learnt a lot -- and, hopefully, I'm a better person for it. I wanted to do an all-new and very creative F1 team, we got an entry, we gave it 100 per cent and we didn't make it. A few people have said a lot of nasty, critical things -- but, believe me, none of the things they've said has been as tough as the things I've said to myself. That's what happens when you try something difficult and new. A friend said to me recently that a bit of humiliation is always good for the soul, and, as hard as that is to swallow, I know deep down that she is right. 26