BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – The new U.S. F1 team announced Argentina’s Jose Maria Lopez as their first driver on Monday.
“Securing ‘Pechito’ Lopez for our debut season has been a goal of ours for a long time,” said US F1 executive vice president Peter Windsor in a statement.
“We’ve been following his career since he dominated the Renault V6 Championship in 2003 and we’re thrilled to have him on board as we return America to Formula One.”
Lopez, 26, will make his debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the opening race of the championship, on March 14 as the 24th Argentine in Formula One and first since Gaston Mazzacane left Prost in 2001.
The announcement came after several days of meetings between Windsor and Lopez’s sponsors in the Argentine capital and was announced officially by Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner at Government House.
Local media reported that three quarters of the money Lopez needed to secure a seat with US F1 was being put up by a group of firms that have backed the driver from the start of his negotiations, with a quarter provided by the Argentine government.
Lopez, who is from Rio Tercero in the northern province of Cordoba, is a former Renault test driver and has more than 6,000km of Formula One testing behind him.
A BIT CRAZY
“Some time ago it seemed a bit crazy to think an Argentine driver could race again in F1. But with the effort and help of many people we are in that position today,” Lopez told reporters after the official announcement.
“We know that US F1 is a new team starting from zero and facing its debut in Formula One differently, intelligently.
“Objectives are important and you have to have them because they act as goals … You have to know where you stand and be self-critical since an ambitious objective can lead you into mistakes.”
The Argentine said that first of all “we must be ahead of the other new teams in the category, then go improving race by race.
“On a personal level, the main thing is to get out of my car knowing I gave 100 percent effort, no matter what the result.”
US F1 are located in Charlotte, North Carolina, and are the only American-based team on the grid in 2010 and the first in more than 40 years.
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