We are just a few steps away from having a complete driver grid for 2010. Jose Maria Lopez was confirmed yesterday as a driver for USF1. But while most driver announcements are fairly low key affairs, that is not the case with Lopez.
He was announced last night in Argentina with the country’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in attendance. This was at the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires.
As can be seen by the state involvement in the announcement, there is major Argentinian money behind his placement at USF1, both from the government and from business. Reportedly, Lopez was bringing 8 million USD to the team.
We would be negligent if we did not highlight some of Peter Windsor’s comments in Sports Illustrated about USF1 from back in August.
“We’ve been offered well over three-quarters of our racing budget by two drivers already, neither of whom have raced in Formula One but both have won races in GP2. Both of them have massive sponsorship they can bring us from their home country.
“However, Ken Anderson and I have got to be very strong, look one another in the eye and say, ‘No, we’re not going to accept that money, we’re not going to hire those guys because we’re going to remain true to our convictions’.
“There are very good American drivers out there,” he added. “To be honest, shame on Formula One and shame on American motorsport that some of these great young Americans with single-seater talent have not been nurtured more and given more opportunity.”
Even so, we cannot be to hard on Peter. The realities of the team budget process have set in and they had to make choices that will hopefully allow the team to make the grid. The economy has been a disaster, hampering Peter’s efforts to get the team fully sponsored. On top of that, Peter has clearly gone out of his way to tantalize and tempt an American public who is mostly ignorant or wholly ambivalent to his plight.
But this may still be for naught. Bernie Ecclestone continues to hammer away at Campos and USF1 with his comments.
“Campos and the American team are having problems – financial, not technical. I hope they will be okay, but I think Formula 1 is looking much stronger than it has for a long time.”
Our fervent hope here at the Paddock is to see USF1 on the grid next year, despite the fact that Ken and Peter were forced to abandon their original plan to have an American driver lineup.
No word yet on Campos or the other USF1 seat, but signs point to Vitaly Petrov at Renault with Russian megabucks behind the signing.
|Team||Driver #1||Driver #2|
|McLaren||Jenson Button||Lewis Hamilton|
|Mercedes GP||Michael Schumacher||Nico Rosburg|
|Red Bull||Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber|
|Ferrari||Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso|
|Williams||Rubens Barrichello||Nico Hulkenberg|
|Force India||Adrian Sutil||Vitantonio Liuzzi|
|Torro Rosso||Sebastian Buemi||Jaime Alguersuari|
|Lotus||Jarno Trulli||Heikki Kovalainen|
|USF1||Jose Maria Lopez||TBA|
|Virgin||Timo Glock||Lucas Di Grassi|
|Sauber||Pedro de la Rossa||Kamui Kobayashi|