Almost as if to dispel Bernie’s latest comments about the health of the team, USF1 has
secured massive funding signed its first driver, Argentina’s José María López.
López becomes Argentina’s first F1 racing driver since the
heavily financed dreadfully slow Gaston Mazzacane competed for Minardi and Prost in the 2000 and 2001 seasons; the Argentine was sacked by latter team after just three races.
The driver from Rio Tercero has been competing (and winning) in Argentina’s touring car championship, the TC2000 for the last three years after placing 9th and 10th in the respective classifications of the 2005 and 2006 GP2 championships.
The TC2000 series is hardly a proving ground of F1 material – frankly, it’s little better than a club championship! – so one would therefore speculate that López’s drive comes by dint of a huge wallet, rather than bucket loads of talent.
Say it isn’t so!!!
Word has linked the team’s
desperate need for cash driver line-up with Lopez for several months, and team boss Peter Windsor was typically effusive about his driver signing: "Securing the sponsorship of ‘Pechito’ López has been a goal of ours for a long time," commented the Team Executive Vice President.
"We’ve been following his
wallet 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 1. López is a consummate professional and born leader."
Windsor continued: "The most revealing thing about his character was how he handled the disappointment of not racing for Renault after three years of testing with them in F1. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for himself, he returned to Argentina and
acquired tons of money totally dominated the local scene, winning 38 races and three championships. He became a major star as a result and, in turn, the Argentine nation – a country where F1 is second only to soccer – has got behind him."
As proof of that, López’s signing was officially announced by the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in the Buenos Aires Government House on the afternoon of January 25.
Would it be remiss to speculate that the Argentine government is one of López’s backers?