FORMULA-ONE - F1: USF1 Had Signed Rossiter As Well As Lopez - SPEEDtv.com
F1: USF1 Had Signed Rossiter As Well As Lopez
Written by: Adam Cooper
NASCAR News, F1 News, and Racing News on SPEED - SPEEDtv.com
Date: 03/01/2010 - 06:54 AM
Location: Balen (BEL)
Further evidence of the apparent mismanagement at USF1 has come with the confirmation that the team had not one but two fully sponsored drivers signed up well before the start of the season ‚Äď and yet still couldn‚Äôt manage to build a car in time.
The team announced on January 25 that it had signed Jose Maria Lopez, but it never officially confirmed that in December it had also agreed a deal with former Honda test driver James Rossiter.
While there were rumors that Rossiter was in the frame for the other seat ‚Äď thanks to Lopez‚Äôs management telling the Argentinean media ‚Äď the deal was in fact signed and sealed. Both drivers were committed to bringing $8m, a large chunk of which was to be paid before the first race, as is standard practice.
However sources have confirmed to SPEEDtv.com that in early February Rossiter‚Äôs backers sought reassurances that everything was going to plan in Charlotte, and sufficient funding was in place.
When USF1 was not able to provide those guarantees, Rossiter withdrew from the deal.
Days later USF1 had a showdown with Lopez‚Äôs management, and confirmed to the driver that the team would not make Bahrain. At that point also Lopez pulled out and went to Europe to look for an alternative seat. Lopez‚Äôs management has since complained that the team must have known the situation when the deal was signed.
Certainly the fact that USF1 failed to build a car on time ‚Äď despite signing contracts with two drivers with F1 testing experience with a combined value of $16m ‚Äď would suggest that something about the project was deeply flawed.
Rossiter has since signed up with the KVRT IndyCar team.
Adam Cooper notched up his 25th season as a racing journalist in 2009. Born in London, England, he saw his first F1 race at age 10 in 1976. He began freelancing for Autosport magazine in 1985 and was on the fulltime staff from 1987-92. He then went freelance again, initially spending two years in Japan before following the 1994 Champcar series from a base in Indianapolis. He has not missed a Grand Prix since Suzuka ‚Äė94, a run that has extended to Abu Dhabi ‚Äô09. Adam has written books about Eddie Irvine, Piers Courage and Michael Schumacher and hosts a race preview show on Sirius XM. He has written about F1 for SPEEDtv.com since 2005. Check out Adam‚Äôs Blog or follow him on Twitter
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