Patrick eyed for new American F1 team

MADRID -- An American team will be racing in Formula One next year, and IndyCar driver Danica Patrick is a candidate to fill one of the seats.

USF1, which will be unveiled Feb. 24, will have a staff of at least 100, a working budget of $64 million and an aim to put two American drivers on the starting grid. The team is looking at several candidates, including the 26-year-old Patrick.

"She's great. She gets a lot of press," USF1 technical director Ken Anderson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "[Indianapolis Motor Speedway president] Tony George would probably be pretty mad with me if I took her out of the IRL but we'll see.

"I don't know if it's something she wants to do. We'd certainly love to test her and go from there."

NASCAR driver Scott Speed, who raced 28 times for F1 team Toro Rosso from 2006-07, is also a candidate.

Conor Daly -- son of former F1 driver Derek Daly -- and Josef Newgarden are also being mentioned, with both drivers presently competing in European junior categories.

The team will be based in Charlotte, N.C., and with much of the technology coming from the United States it means "there are a lot of companies we can lean on to outsource," according to Anderson.

Calls by the AP to motor racing's governing body Sunday to confirm that USF1's entry had been accepted were not returned.

The team is currently looking for a secondary base in Europe, most likely sharing with Epsilon Euskadi's team headquarters in northern Spain.

"We're talking to [F1 engineer] Sergio Rinland about basing it at Espselon. It's a beautiful city, it's certainly on top of our list," said Anderson, who worked as a designer and engineer in F1 and IndyCar. "Spain makes a lot of sense with all the winter testing."

Epsilon Euskadi is active in Le Mans and there is a wind tunnel there that meets FIA standards.

Getting back into F1 was a no-brainer for Anderson.

"It's the biggest sport in the world and the biggest TV show in the world," he said. "NASCAR has just become a national sport, never mind an international sport."

With the global economic downturn, more independent teams are possible, especially since FIA president Max Mosley stepped in to reign in the costs with sweeping regulation changes and cost-cutting coming into effect to avoid any other teams from pulling out.

Honda's exit in December is no surprise to Anderson since the Japanese manufacturer's core business interests lay elsewhere.

"Mosley had to step in and stop F1 from killing itself with the manufacturers throwing ungodly money and people and resources at it. It's got to get back to a real business like Frank Williams owns Williams, Ron Dennis owns McLaren, Eddie Jordan owns Jordan and they all had to show a profit at the end of the year and, therefore, had to make intelligent decisions.

"One little hiccup like this and it's all sort of imploded."

The drop in costs has "leveled the playing field" although Anderson is targeting points to start.

Pete Windsor, a former team manager at Ferrari and Williams, will partner Anderson and run the competition side of the team.

Anderson remains a throwback to the late 80s and early 90s of F1 when he worked at Williams, Ligier and Onyx.

"In '92, the Williams was the coolest car ever with active suspension, [anti-brake system], that was kind of the peak of technology and their budget for that was less than 30 million pounds," Anderson said. "I missed the days when we could do some crazy things."