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Stoddart sceptical on USF1 plans

Former Minardi team principal Paul StoddartFormer F1 team boss Paul Stoddart believes the new USF1 team would be better off operating in Britain, and the Australian reckons they will have a hard time raising sufficient money to race in Formula One next year, especially with no grand prix in the United States.

"I personally can't see how they are going to pull a major sponsor or investor out of the U.S. when there's no race (there)," Stoddart told Reuters in an interview.

"Very few Americans care terribly much about Formula One... and I certainly found it harder to get money over here than in Europe. Indeed, impossible.

"Towards the end of Champ Car you could have counted the sponsors in the series that weren't related to somebody (in the series) on one hand. In fact, you wouldn't even need all your fingers."

USF1, who said they will enter F1 next year, plan to have their main headquarters in North Carolina and a second base in Spain, France or Italy.

Former Minardi owner Stoddart, who left grand prix racing at the end of the 2005 season, said the timing is not right yet to enter the sport, as he thinks there is still work to do to reduce the costs of competing in F1.

He also claims any F1 team should be operating from the UK, where most teams are from.

"I believe we are a year or two away from getting the costs completely under control and I don't believe that new teams will come from the US, I think they will come from within Europe," he added.

"I would have said that if you are going to operate successfully, first of all start thinking about a base in the UK.

"Unless you have massive budgets like Ferrari or Toyota, then you kind of need to be in the UK. Most of the people come out of the UK, they don't really want to live in other countries," added Stoddart, who also ran a Champ Car team.

The Australian entrepreneur said he felt, with the current financial crisis, it was more likely to lose teams than to see new ones joining the field.

"I think we are going to see a bit more pain before there is any upside," he said. "We've currently got 10 teams, just, and are we going to be able to say that at the end of 2009?

"Let's see what happens to Honda, see what happens to perhaps one or two others out there that maybe are having second thoughts.

"I am more concerned that we keep 10 teams than get too worried about (the arrival) of 11 and 12."

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