Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

USF1 forced to change name // The American racing team face an early setback

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

USF1 has only been in existence for a couple of weeks and has already fallen foul of Bernie Ecclestone. The FOM boss has forced the team to change their name, as he doesn't like them using "F1" in their title. Although Bernie doesn't own the rights to the trademark F1 (and he has tried to claim it several times), he has the power to sway the teams to do as he asks.

We first knew about this when the USF1 website went down, and fans were worried that the team, hoping to enter F1 in 2010, had hit a glitch before they'd even begun. However, the site redirected to USGPE.com, and this turns out to be the new name of the team: US Grand Prix Engineering.

Aside from the fact that it's not as catchy a name, this seems to be just a spiteful act from Bernie. He must have known the name of the team before they released it to the public, as co-owner Peter Windsor has said he approached Ecclestone way back in 2003 with the idea.

If he had asked them to change it beforehand, it would have saved a lot of confusion for fans. I have already got USF1 stuck in my head, and having to rethink it as USGPE isn't easy. No doubt when the logo and car appears, and we start using it more often, it will be fine, but this is not a good example of brand awareness.

Peter Windsor confirmed that the setback wouldn't hold them up too much, and that a new logo would be on the way as soon as possible. However, he also said that the USF1 site was never going to be a permanent domain for them, and that they had considered USGPE as a name anyway, as a mark of respect to the older teams.

Williams has been known as Williams Grand Prix Engineering, and many other teams, both past and present, have similar names. The interesting thing is that Williams is currently known as AT&T Williams F1, which appears to be allowed because they are in the championship already, and on the entry list.

Bernie isn't so kind to Force India though, having asked them to change their logo as when shortened to FI, it looked too much like F1. The team have agreed to do this, but it is just another example of how Bernie exercises his power over the grid.