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Lopez poised to sign for US F1 Team 23 Nov 2009

Jose Maria Lopez (ARG) Renault Formula 1 Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain. 20th July 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton Jose Maria Lopez (ARG) Renault Formula 1 Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain. 20th July 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton.

Former Renault Formula One tester Jose Maria Lopez says he expects to be confirmed as a 2010 race driver for the new US F1 Team very soon. According to the Argentine, a contract with the US-based squad is in place, subject to the completion of personal sponsorship arrangements.

Lopez raced in Formula 3000 and GP2 between 2004 and 2006, scoring a GP2 win in Spain in 2005. He then returned to Argentina and touring cars, becoming national champion in 2008. He visited the US F1 Team’s North Carolina factory last week.

"Until now, all the contacts had been by telephone, but given the advanced negotiations, we went there to visit the team headquarters and talk with (team founders) Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson,” Lopez told his official website.

“We have a verbal agreement that will be completed next week,” added the 26-year-old, who is thought to have the vast majority of the required backing in place. “The visit has been highly positive, we just need to complete some economic supports that are already committed."

Lopez, a veteran of Renault’s driver development programme and a test driver for their Formula One team in 2006, said he had been pleasantly surprised by what he found at the US F1 Team’s Charlotte facility.

"It is a new team, starting from scratch, something different from what I experienced in Renault, where the structure had many years of experience. But I was impressed by the commitment and professionalism they’ve put into this project. There is a wind tunnel that is almost 1:1 scale, which is very important to develop the car I will be able to drive in 2010."

The US F1 Team is just one of four new teams joining the Formula One grid next season. Campos Meta have already confirmed Bruno Senna as their first driver, while former Toyota star Timo Glock will head Manor GP’s line-up. Lotus have signed one driver, but have yet to reveal his identity.