Preparations are well underway for the debut of the new USF1 team, which is set to join the Formula One grid next season. The car's been designed, the manufacturing facility is in the process of ramping up for production, and the team has staffed up. But while the nascent squad focuses on building the chassis and infrastructure, speculation has been running rampant over who will sponsor the team and who will be driving its two cars.

Previous reports indicated that YouTube could be on board, and now the latest suggest that Best Buy, which currently sponsors Elliott Sadler's #19 Dodge Charger for the Richard Petty team in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series, could be in the mix as well. The rumors are fueled by an entry which Barry Judge, the electronics retail giant's chief marketing officer, posted on Twitter asking the public-at-tweet what they thought of the idea of Best Buy – currently is in the midst of a European expansion – linking up with the team.


As for drivers, we're afraid that Danica Patrick is out of the running, as the buxom Indy pilot hasn't expressed much interest and the team says she'd be too high-profile for its inaugural season, in which it'll be focusing on reliability and consistency as opposed to race wins and championship points. So, who's in contention? A few names are being bandied about, including Formula 3 and A1GP race winner Jonathan Summerton and IndyCar race winners Marco Andretti and Buddy Rice, all Americans with open-wheel experience and some measure of international appeal. The team is also considering bringing in veteran Austrian driver Alex Wurz to help with development, but no further mention of Canadian homegrown hero Jacques Villeneuve.

The one thing USF1 is not interested in is pay drivers. Often a lucrative option for start-up teams, pay drivers bring with them enticing sponsorship cash, but while the team was approached by a couple of up-and-comers from the GP2 feeder series, which could have covered three quarters of the team's budget, neither was American, so the team turned them down to stick to their guns. You know, to defend democracy, hoist the stars and stripes and all that.

[Source: Sports Illustrated and F1-Live]