US F1 signs Lopez for 2010 

Written by David on January 26th, 2010 at 12:10 pmLast Update: January 26th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Jose Maria The US F1 Team announced on Monday that they have signed former Renault F1 Team test driver, Jose Maria Lopez, for a race seat in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship.

The 26-year-old driver will be the 24th Argentinean to race in Formula One, sustaining a heritage that began sixty years ago when Juan Manuel Fangio and Froilan Gonzalez took the F1 world by storm.

“Securing Lopez for our debut season has been a goal of ours for a long time,” stated Peter Windsor, US F1 Team Executive Vice President.

“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 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,” he added.

Lopez’s contract with the US F1 team was officially announced by the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. “The Argentine government is very happy to get behind this exciting new project and we wish Jose Maria and the team all the best for the 2010 season,” she said.

“This is a truly memorable day for me, my family and the people of Argentina,” stated Lopez during the announcement. “I have been working towards this day for much of my life and I can’t thank Peter Windsor 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.”

After winning in karts all over the world from the age of seven – Lopez was leading Lewis Hamilton in the world final in Japan when his chain broke – he switched to race cars in Europe in 2001 . He won the 2002 Italian Formula Renault Championship with four wins, five poles and three podiums and in European Formula Renault he scored two wins, two poles and a podium. He dominated the European Formula Renault V6 Championship in 2003 (five wins, eight poles, seven podiums) and in one season of F3000 and two in GP2 he scored a win (Barcelona), seven podiums and a pole. As a contracted Renault driver, he also completed thousands of miles in the F1 car, focusing mainly on shake-downs and starts but also completing simulated race distances with compromised set-ups.

Disappointed not be given the opportunity to race in F1, Jose returned to Argentina in 2007. His positive, super-professional approach resulted in three championships, 38 wins and 36 pole positions. As a result, Jose became a hero in his own country and regained the momentum he needed to focus once again on F1.

source: US F1

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