Lopez to race for US team 26 Jan 2010
The North Carolina-based US team have confirmed that Jose Maria Lopez will race for them this season. Lopez, who has previously tested for Renault, will be the 24th Argentine Formula One driver in the history of the world championship.
Securing Pechito Lopez for our debut season has been a goal of ours for a long time, said the teams vice president Peter Windsor. Weve been following his career since he dominated the Renault V6 Championship in 2003 and were thrilled to have him on board as we return America to Formula One. Lopez is a consummate professional and born leader.
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 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.
Lopezs contract was officially announced by the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in the Casa Rosada (Government House) in Buenos Aires. The 26 year-old will be the South American countrys first Formula One driver since Gaston Mazzacane made 21 race appearances for Minardi and Prost during the 2000/01 seasons.
This is a truly memorable day for me, my family and the people of Argentina, said Lopez. I have been working towards this day for much of my life and I cant thank Peter and Ken (Anderson) enough for this opportunity. Of course a new F1 team faces many challenges but our goal is to improve with each race and build a foundation that will eventually see this team competing for wins and championships.
Lopez started karting aged just seven and switched to single-seater racing in 2001. A year later he won the 2002 Italian Formula Renault championship with four wins, five poles and three podiums and scored an additional two victories in the European Formula Renault series. He went on to dominate the European Formula Renault V6 championship in 2003, taking five wins and eight poles positions.
In 2004 he took a solitary podium in F3000 and switched to GP2 for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. During his time in the Formula One feeder series he clinched one victory and six podiums, whilst simultaneously testing regularly for Renault. Lopez returned to Argentina in 2007 and since then has taken three championships, 38 wins and 36 pole positions in his home country.
So many things go into starting a Formula One team from scratch, added team principal Ken Anderson. You can nail every step along the way but if you dont have the right guys in the seats, everything else is for naught. With Jose Maria Lopez we have further positioned ourselves for a successful 2010 debut campaign.
The US team are yet to announce who will partner Lopez.