Jose Maria Lopez confirmed at US F1, Peter Windsor insists he’s good enough

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jose Maria Lopez with US F1's Peter Windsor
Jose Maria Lopez with US F1's Peter Windsor

US F1 have confirmed their first driver for 2010 and it isn’t a rising American star or an experienced F1 hand – it’s 26-year-old Jose Maria Lopez, who last drove a single-seater in 2006.

Lopez – often referred to by his nickname ‘Pechito’ – has won various domestic championships in his native Argentina since then. But his lack of recent experience in open-wheel racing raises questions about whether he should get an F1 drive.

US F1 vice president Peter Windsor refuted suggestions that Lopez’s inexperience would be a problem:

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 ?ǣ a country where F1 is second only to soccer – has got behind him.
Peter Windsor

But the fact that the deal was announced by the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, shows Lopez has his political connections to thank for the drive as much as his talent behind the wheel.

Lopez’s deal has been rumoured for several months and with that has come speculation he is bringing a major sponsor to the team, or the deal has political backing (see this comment from Prisoner Monkeys for more).

But US F1’s management clearly believes Lopez has untapped potential and it’s worth considering why.

He was formerly part of the Renault Driver Development programme. His last season in GP2 in 2006 featured an especially competitive field: Lewis Hamilton won the championship, Nelson Piquet Jnr impressed with a string of wins and Timo Glock enjoyed a breakthrough performance for iSport. Lopez often qualified well but tended to fade in the races.

The crucial question now is who US F1 pair him up with. An experienced hand in the second seat will bolster their credibility and would present Lopez’s presence as an opportunity for him to learn from an established star.

Argentina has had great F1 drivers in the past including one of the greatest of them all, Juan Manuel Fangio, and the bright yet mercurial talent of Carlos Reutemann.

But the recent record of Argentinian drivers in F1 is not good. Gaston Mazzacane was dropped by Prost after just four races in 2001 having been miles off the pace. The young Esteban Tuero had a forgettable 1998 for Minardi and mysteriously disappeared despite having a drive in place for the next season.

And Norberto Fontana is best remembered for holding up Jacques Villeneuve in the 1997 season finale under orders to help Michael Schumacher win the championship.

I hope Lopez fares better than those three – I’m just not confident he will. But I’ll say this again – if this gets us a race at Potrero de los Funes than it’s not all bad.

Do you think Jose Maria Lopez deserves a shot at F1? Who do you think US F1 should put in their second car? Have your say below.

Video: Jose Maria Lopez’s F1 tests

This video (with Spanish narration) shows footage from two of Lopez’s previous F1 tests for Minardi and Renault:

Jose Maria Lopez joins US F1 for 2010

118 comments on “Jose Maria Lopez confirmed at US F1, Peter Windsor insists he’s good enough”

  1. Still don’t get why they signed him. I can see him being absolutely miles off the pace but we’ll have to wait and see.

  2. hopefully better than the last Argentinian who have been in F1 (Tuero, Mazzacane …)

  3. Maybe they needed the money to survive. If that is the case than it was a brilliant move. Hopefully the second driver is a bit more proven so we can compare, because if the car is no good it wont matter who drives it. Graham Rahal still has no IndyCar contract for what it’s worth, though I am not sure how the Licensing works.

    1. Rahal is likely remaining with Newmann Haas in Indycar. The only American USF1 considered was Johnathan Summerton, but he lacks the funds (Rumoured to get a F2 ride in 2010).

      There 2nd driver will hopefully be someone with experience. However, the team ruled out Wurz and Villenueve weeks ago, and Davidson lacks the funds. The only plausible contenders I can think of are Klien, Ralf, Sato and Grosjean.

      Out of those 4, I’d take Sato.

      1. I’d take Sato as well.

      2. I’d take Klien actually, just ahead of Sato.

        I think Klien showed glimpses of good potential in his short time in F1, and it would be nice to see him get another chance. I don’t know if he has any sponsorship money though.

      3. I’m sorry, but where did they rule out Villeneuve exactly?

  4. Good spin from Windsor there but the fact remains he’s driving because he’s handing them money and/or a sponsor, something USF1 claimed they’d never conscience. Is this a bad thing? I’m not fond of pay drivers, but all the teams are guilty of it, whether it’s a man with a sack full of dodgy russian cash, or one that just happens to have a “Title Sponsor” (Hello Ferrari, we know you had no interest in Santander, really, honest.) the result is the same. As always with Bernie, any politics are both obvious and murky beyond belief, so let’s just sidestep that and leave the furtive shenanigans to the experts.

    Lopez is no worse than any of the people Torro Rosso have incompetently flung onto the F1 scene only to throw back out again a few months later. With this singing, Windsor and Anderson are finally admitting that;
    a) They’re not operating from a position of unassailable genius
    b) They have to get as far as the grid before they can do anything else

    c) They’re not going to be able to flog the entry to someone else at a profit.

    None of those things are good for the team’s Ego, but they’re all signs that hard truths are being faced and rhetoric is being replaced with hard nosed decision making. That’s a good thing. Fact remains they should have hired this guy and a Team Principal about 5 months ago, though.

    1. *singing = signing, obviously. Oh, for an “edit comment” button…

      1. lol Oh indeed ;)

  5. Can you lay off of F1 for 3 or 4 years, then come back and be competative? Michael has struggled and he was at the pinnacle (I know he has an injury). Does F1 progress that much in 3-4 years?

    1. Not that I’ve ever driven an F1 car to know for sure, but the cars have changed dramatically in the last 3 years. Even from one team to another the cars vary greatly. Just look at Fisichella in a Force India and then look at him in a Ferrari. In the end though it all comes down to how quickly and how well a driver can adapt to his current pony.

  6. Peter Windsor should know better, he sold out for a few pieces of silver. US F1 has lost my support and I live only two hours drive from their headquarters!
    I’ll cheer for Trulli and de la Rosa this year.

    1. be more open minded. The fact that he never won the gp2 title, doesn’t make him trash. In the history of the sport, many good drivers started with a suitcase full of cash. Lauda and schumacher came to mind. And look at kobayashi, in gp2 he didn’t set the world alight, but you could see during his debut race, that he belongs in f1. It’s a matter of self confidence, personality and speed.

      1. Totally agree, and you present a good example with Kobayashi.

        1. I dont think its about him being a pay driver, this is about his abilities, I can’t think of a driver who came close(tester for Renault for 2.5 years) went away for three years( at least schumi and Glock had F1 racing exp.) and then came back because of their talent. He sucked at Renault, I hate to think how good he may be now after racing tin tops in Arg.

  7. After reading this several times the words “good ENOUGH”
    seem to tell the tale. This sounds like they’ve got a piece of crap and just hope to finish (last). If you haven’t got a chance of winning, or at least placing well, WHY START? How does a start up team develop a car when they haven’t got a driver who can offer USABLE feedback? Sato & Davidson would have been useful and probably driven for expenses!!!!! Again I say, Peter Windsor should know better, this isn’t going to work.

    1. Yeah, this is what I was going to say.

      When the team principal tries to insist that his driver of choice is “good enough”, says a lot about credibility doesn’t it?..haha.

      Having said all this, this guy did test the Renaults that won the championship in 05 and 06, so he cant be all that bad. But then again, we’ve come to see last season thanks to one Luca Badoer that testing and racing are worlds apart.

      This is definitely down to money, why would a team from America, a country with probably the largest community of speed junkies in the world, swoop for an Argentinian? I was hoping that some kid from NASCAR will get a shot!!

      What we need in F1 are guys with raw speed and no fear…not a politically connected Argie!

      1. hey Jay
        i am Argenrinean and i don’t like pechito lopez either, but to say a nascar driver can race an f1 car, sorry but thats crazy. racing in circles is nothing compares to drive in silverstone for example.
        sorry again but not even an indy car driver went well on a f1 car.

  8. Sato! And if we get to go to Portos soon, all the better.

  9. Lopez was signed for the money he brings to the team, obviously.

    I won’t be supporting this team, but no doubt many will.

    And I’m not anti-American.

    1. what are you, anti-pay drivers? Then you must be anti schumacher, and anti niki lauda. 10 world titles between them.
      Hive the guy a chance. He might be better than you think.

  10. I’d rather teams did this than promote drivers before they’re ready.

  11. I dont think it matters what the drivers are like, I’ll be surprised if it isn’t the slowest car on the grid.

    1. So what if they are the slowest car on the grid in their very first year of existance, in a country outside of Europe, starting on a design from scratch, and being the only new team to build their own gearbox? It’s impressive that they are evening trying and accomplishing their goal.

      1. I agree Steve (again). Their goal is to build a car and get it to go around the track. Maybe in 2011 they can compete for midfield. In 2012, if they score points it will be considered a major triumph. I don’t think anyone is honestly cheering for them to win anything just yet. Some people just think it is cool to build an F1 car from the ground up….

        At the grid this year with a car that doesn’t fall apart = success. It’s a little dramatic to say the car or the drivers will be dangerous after some of the SLOW cars and drivers we have seen over the years……

        Also, Keith, I think the word deserves is a bit off….does he deserve an F1 drive? According to who his mom? He got one, therefore he deserves one….

        1. 2011 2012 lets not get ahead of ourselves. Will they make it that far into the future? Somebody stole my crystal ball, so I can’t. I do wish them well though.

          1. Exactly. If your team wanders around at the back of the field in 2010, way off the pace, where are you going to get the funds to race in 2011 and 2012 from?

          2. his_majesty…I said MAYBE in 2011 they can compete for midfield and IF they even score 1 point in 2012 that would be a huge sucssess. That is not getting ahead of oneself….I said MAYBE….In reality, they may be at the back for quite some time. My point, is that NO ONE thinks they are going to be competing for a championship in 2010…not even them.

            GeeMac, you’re telling me you’ve never seen a team at the back of the field for a few years and then they score points, really? Especially in a season where you have 3 new teams??

        2. He got one, therefore he deserves one.

          There have been plenty of F1 drivers in the past where that plainly hasn’t been the case.

          1. Yea, but in this case it’s obvious that he has a lot of experience racing and he has driven in the starter series and he has driven an F1 car, so to say “does he deserve it” doesn’t really makes sense to me. He has worked very hard racing cars and he has some experience in the F1 world, so it’s not a matter of deserving it to me. Is he going to be great, who knows, probably not. But it’s not fair to say he just paid his way in and is going to be more dangerous or deserves it less than Alguesari, Buemi, Grosean, etc.

        3. mfDB, I was on a roll with my comments yesterday. I guess great minds think alike huh?

      2. I didn’t say I wish they weren’t there, hell I’d be pleased to be proved wrong about that prediction. Just giving my opinion based on the information available to me :).

  12. I think I’m going to be a big USF1 fan.

    It seems smart to me to bring in a driver that knows how to be a winner, and brings a bucket of cash with them. Have Sato or Davidson won anything recently, and why pay for mediocrity when you can use the income from a paying driver (sponsor/government). With all respect to Number 38, the back half of the grid seldom has a chance of placing well, let alone winning, but they still start, and represent their sponsors, and develop talent, and sometimes even do well. And if the results are bad, it might be easy for USF1 to say they were wrong, and maybe their drivers weren’t “Good enough”. Humble beginings for a new team seem right to me.

    1. I Totally agree with you.
      As Lopez is “Unknown” for almost all the F1 fans is being critized very hard.

      In Argentina (and in his early career in Europe) showed to be a great driver, talented and ambitious.

      I believe he was the best option for USF1 in many facts

  13. Pechito is bringing at least $5 million with him. Why do I say the figure $5million? Robert Doornbos tweeted that he was offered a ride for $5million. I don’t know why some of you are saying you won’t support the team because they signed a pay driver. Do you guys know anything about F1? Re-read the post from Hairs. There are A LOT more people bringing money into the team than you guys care to know about.

    Anyway, don’t follow the team. You’re not going to hurt Peter Windsor’s feelings. They’re brand new. They’ll be fine. Year one is all about learning.

    1. I also forgot to mention that US racing media are saying Lopez only has a one year deal. So, he’s bringing money to the team, he is pretty disposable, and the President of Argentina was involved in making the announcement. Maybe he won’t be the best driver…but he probably won’t be as bad as Luca Badoer was. I don’t really see any negatives in the story. Maybe I’m blinded by my American patriotism though…I don’t know.

    2. Actually, Robert Doornbos declined the offer because according to him, he didn’t have $5million.

  14. your questions will be answered at baharain.
    he is a top driver.
    alonso & schumacher also pay for a shot on f1….

    why lopez don´t decerve that?

    he works with the champion car on 05 & 06 with alonso.

    and the poor results of the GP2 was for a “middlegrid” car.

    say what you want… is ok…
    but lopez will work well on track, i´m sure of that, give the boy a little trust.

    Lopez IS NOT LIKE MAZZACANE or TUERO.

    Lopez is (along with Guerrieri) our best driver.

    1. who is guerrieri, Never heard of him. The best?! Where, argentina? nonsense.

      1. Guerrieri drove at Superleague formula in 2009.
        for 2010 he goes to Indy Lights or Superleague formula… is not sure.
        Both, Guerrieri and Lopez are the best Argentinean drivers.

        they don’t dissapoint us.
        you’ll see.
        grettings.

        1. okey. At the present times. I see. I really hope you are right. We need talents from all over the world, and argentina has a big heritage in the sport.

          1. No it doesn’t. Fangio raced in the 50s and after him the best Argentina produced was Carlos Reutman – and the guy left F1 in 1981. They haven’t had a single decent driver ever since. And the Argentinian GP track was what could be called a typical Herman Tilke classic before Herman Tilke!

          2. In reply to Antifia’s comment on the Buenos Aires track: I would urge everyone to type in “autodromo galvez” on Google World and take a look around. You’ll see that it’s not at all like a Tilke track. You’ll be able to see the fantastic long “slipstreamable” straights and high speed turn around the centrally located lagoon, where the F1 Grand Prix and 1000Km Sport Prototype races were held back in the 1970/80s and multiple hard-braking passing opportunities it could offer. Unfortunately, in the 90s the F1 safety boffins chose to run their races in the Mickey Mouse infield variants, turning a once exciting GP into a processional merry-go-round. But domestic races still use the fast stretches with wonderful results. Of course it would need sprucing up and bringing safety standards up to date before hosting a GP -and “Potrero de los Funes” might be an ever better design- but, Tilke? I think not.

  15. Well! More one south-american driver in F1!!!

    1. “one more” you wanted to say, i imagine. Who cares where they are from, as long as they are talented, and have interesting things to say.

  16. *sigh* I want USF1 to succeed and I completely understand the funding situation and the need for a pay driver. But don’t try to tell us that a pay driver is signed on the merit of his driving skills. I’m really getting tired of Peter Windsor’s bulls***.

    1. I think what Peter is trying to say (although I do agree that he can be a little annoying) is that this isn’t some rich kid off the street, he is a champion.

      I seem to remember a guy driving a Mercedes touring sedan for TWO seasons and then what…..oh yea, coming to F1 and winning 7 titles and breaking every record in the book…..

      1. I meant to say sports car (not touring sedan), but either way…not an F1 car…

        edit button???

    2. well it is just politics. He has to say something. Let’s give them a chance to show what they got, before starting to put them down. It is too early to trash them.

  17. I would’ve liked to see an American in the seat, but time and money will tell. The seats are just being kept warm for the eventual team of Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden. Good luck this year boys!!

  18. Never heard about him,so let see what happen. USF1,Renault & Campos Meta still to name their second driver.

  19. **WARNING: AN ARGENTINEAN WRITING HERE AND A LOPEZ-HATER**

    I’ll be honest with you all. I’m probably the only one here who really saw ‘Pechito’ racing since 2006 (except those FIA GT followers).

    I started following Jose Maria Lopez when he got his F3000 drive. But it was at Hockenheim 2006 (GP2 race) that I realized he was just another guy going round a track and nothing special.

    That day he leaded the Sprint race easily but made a mistake on the last lap, allowing Timo Glock by, thus loosing the race.

    It’s 3 years since then and he’s still the same. He’s won a lot of races here, he scored 24 poles this year alone in 3 different touring car series from 45 qualifing sessions (more than 50% of them).

    But then he failed to win more than 10 races. He often made mistakes or went a bit like Hamilton at Monza this year. “All or nothing” even if his car was much better than the rest and outpacing everyone by 3 tenths.

    That clearly shows his lack of that kind of spark talents like Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel show while driving the car.

    One thing clear. HE’S NOT ANOTHER GASTON MAZZACANE. The guy is fast and, if we all were surprised by Kobayashi (who, tbh, was a bit normal on feeder series), why wouldn’t it happen again with Lopez?

    Still, it’s good for Argentina (and maybe for F1 too) to have a driver representing our country.

    PD: About the political move. Just 2 of the 8 million dollars needed were paid by the Goverment. Most of the money came from private investors (notably, one of the touring car series Lopez conquered this year).

    Peter Windsor visited all of the investors last week, and the announcement was made by Argentina’s President today, after reciving Windsor earlier today.

    1. Thanks for the inside info ;)

    2. I remember Lopez from GP2 and my impression is much the same as yours, i.e. fast but on the edge all the time, with too many mistakes.

      Lopez looked quite promising in his first season of GP2 in 2005. Despite a strong field and a middling team he managed some reasonable results. Following a move to a better team (Super Nova) for 2006 he was tipped to build on that success. But the results just never came, Lopez was dumped by RDD and that seemed to be that for F1.

      It’s not impossible for quick but inconsistent drivers to make a success of F1 – Felipe Massa is one who springs to mind. But after three years out of single seaters? It’s a big ask.

    3. Sorry for not replying to the points you made, but I just wanted to say your English seems excpetionally good for an Argentinean.

      1. hey! nowhere in the site says this is all about a grammar contest or something like that, right?? and what about you typing “excpetionally”? maybe your English ain’t that good for an American…lol! (:-))
        on a different matter, i think lopez could score some points this year, depending on how good his car is. sometimes in f-1 races, there are some extra conditions that make possible for non-top drivers to make their day!!!!!!!

  20. I guess I’m in the minority, but I’m not that concerned that they signed a driver who is bringing in some sponsorships/money. Is he a mediocre driver? Yes. Are the other non-pay options thrown around on this board mediocre? Definitely. Sorry, but there is a reason that for the last several seasons NO ONE was interested in Davidson, Sato, Ralf, etc. They just aren’t that good. If Davidson, Sato, etc. were competitive drivers they would have been considered as midyear replacements for Ferrari, Toro Rosso, Renault, etc. The simple fact here is that even if they are a little better than Lopez, the difference just isn’t that striking. And if you owned a team and you could either sign a mediocre driver and get some additional sponsorship money or sign a mediocre driver and pay him to not do significantly better than the pay driver, what would you do? I think I’d question this team more if they were paying Ralf or Davidson any amount of money than I am about them taking on a pay driver. Face it, top drivers don’t want to go to a new team. Granted Trulli and Kovy went to a new team, but they really didn’t have any other viable prospects of landing at an established team. And their talent level is debatable, so its not like Lotus signed two stars. Ralf, Davidson, Sato, or Lopez. There really isn’t much difference between any of the four. USF1 just made the best business decision when picking between four so-so drivers.

    1. mmm, Lopez is not a mediocre driver at all.

      Actually his driving style doesn´t even compare with the other “so-so” drivers you mention.

    2. Well Sato and Davidson at least have recent experience in F1 cars, and Davidson especially would bring a ton of technical knowledge to the team.

      1. Recent?? not really….

  21. It’s not what I was first expecting, but it is a smart move overall. Here is why I believe the deal is a good one…

    – Credit to the posters above who said that Lopez is no worse than some of the young drivers who have entered the sport recently. Really, take a guy like Buemi..nothing against him, but is he the next Vettel? Not really- same with his teammate, Grosjean, and some others. I wanted Heidfeld to get a shot, but for whatever reason maybe it wasen’t the best deal for him. Sato, Davidson, Klein, etc..may be in the running for the second seat, but who knows how sharp they will be after being out of the cockpit for so long?

    – In this deal, USF1 gets some money, and a prepackaged fanbase in the sports-mad Argentine public. If the team is marketed right, there is great potential for Lopez to connect with America’s massive Hispanic population, a group that has helped gratly in the continued growth of soccer in this country.

    – As another poster said, there are a slew of talented young Americans at various stages of development who are coming along, and surely in a year or two at least one will be ready for a race seat. That includes Summerton, Rossi, Rosenzwig, Hildebrand, Daly, Newgarden, De Phillippi, Edwards, Smrz and others…

    – There is nothing more in the sporting world that I want than for an American driver to get into F1, win races, and contend for the championship. If Lopez and whoever else can do a good job with the team in the meantime, good for them :)

    1. I agree it is a smart move. While he might not be from the USA itself, he is still from the same sort of region. Well more so than a driver from Europe, Asia, Australia etc.

      I’m looking forward to seeing how USF1 go. We’ve certainly heard more out of them, then any other of the other new teams. Haven’t heard much from Virgin, which I think is weird considering how media tart-ish the the Virgin brand usually is; they do have a nice website though.

  22. On the Prisoner Monkeys quote from last year- I don’t always agree with what you have to say Mr PM but you’re a very good writer and your F1 knowledge is impressive so muchos kudos from me. But then again, I don’t expect an Argentine GP anytime soon

  23. I also like the fact that someone thought highly enough of USF1 to bring in $5mm. It certainly makes me feel more confident that USF1 is for real (not that I would know the truth) and might be key in winning additional sponsors. Attracting investment is one of the most crucial elements of a successful start up. How much did Virgin pay for it’s spot on the Brawns ($250m per race for ’09?), and how many races did Brawn have to win before that happened.

  24. “a country where F1 is second only to soccer”

    its football. thanks.

    1. you ment futbol, right?

      1. He’s speaking for USF1, so “soccer” would be correct.

        1. Exactly right…America is becoming more and more passionate about soccer, but “football” over here refers to a completely different sport ;)

  25. Man I hope Peter Windsor knows something we don’t!

    I’m trying so hard to take USF1 seriously, and I had just managed to convince myself that they would be ok, but without an experienced driver, I’m no sure. We can only hope they sign someone half decent to drive the other car.

    1. My guess is they had to confirm the Lopez finances before signing somebody ‘half decent’ as you say. I thought Villeneuve would drive, but that would mean no American drivers so it’s unlikely.

      I reckon Scott Speed will get it personally because he is the only American driver with any recent F1 experience. I’m not sure what his NASCAR contract is however.

      1. Good grief. Scott Speed. I hate to sound trollish (what with my prediction of US F1 folding after a couple of years) but that would be the final nail in the coffin IMO.

  26. US F1 won’t last as long as the US GP did IMO.

    1. After having seen Prost GP crash and burn (who the hell goes on and says: one country, one team), i am very doubtfull about USF1.Associating a team with a country is somewhat old fashioned and can allow people who are just not good enough to remain in place because they have the right nationality.

      Prost GP at some point had decent drivers, a potentially great engeneering team, but the “all French” thing about it just made it non competitive (And Prost wasn’t the best with money obviously).

      Mind you, with Mclaren turning in an English team vs Mercedes being the German team, who knows? (not really great examplse, both teams “nationality” are based mostly on drivers and don’t affect engeneering team, and their drivers aren’t half bad. I am more wary of Ferrari’s “all latin” positionning, who might well flop).

      1. I agree, I hope they stick around, but the whole US think is going to bite them in the a$$

  27. If USF1 sign up a pay driver who is less than competitive they can always blame the driver if the car is poor.
    I hope the car isn’t poor and that Lopez holds his own. But with so many new drivers and the extra cars on track, Q1 will be so much more interesting to watch.

    1. We all hope the car is good and Lopez holds his own.

      My issue is that USF1 seem to be making this far more difficult for themselves than it need be by, inter alia, hiring a rookie who hasn’t driven a single seater for 3 years, being the only new team who are designing their own gearbox, being based a million miles from every other F1 team etc etc etc…

  28. People, I can understand you dont know who JM Lopez is, but you will be surprised… I can’t say he is best than the other drivers at Formula 1, but he is the one that deserve more than the others…

  29. How long has it been since montoya raced ?? could he be a good choice for the 2nd seat?? I thought he was spectacular during race starts although he would forget to brake at the end of the 1st crnr and take out a few cars along wid him (oops!!). Also the chubby one was mostly unfit so he would start panting half way down. But mostly he had vey bad luck for sure…still, dont think he might want to race among the backrunners.

    1. He seems to be completely happy with life in NASCAR. More’s the pity – I think he’d go well in current slick-shod TC-free F1 cars.

      1. Have you seen the documentary that NatGeo did on Montoya?

        He’s even more of a crash magnet now than he ever was when in F1. And that is saying something!

        His whole style is aggressive to the point of pushing other cars out of the way.

        And his attitude towards F1 is very bitter – openly so. Of course now he maintains that “F1 is just about the car and that NASCAR is all about the driver.”

        If you like crashes and drama he’s perhaps an interesting choice, but if you actually want a driver who is racing to the level of F1 I really think Montoya is (and always was) a bad choice of driver.

    2. If I remember correctly, he said he wouldn’t come back to F1 even if he received an offer from Ferrari (Though I’m sure he would come back for that) ;)

      He complains about F1 being about the car and that he just wants to win, but he hasn’t done that in Nascar. I think he was just sick and tired of the lifestyle of F1 like Kimi was. It is a shame, he may not have been the best on the grid, but he was close to being a champion so he’s not as bad as some people say.

      1. and don’t forget. The ferrari years, would have been harder to take, without him on the track. He put a fight against the all mighty team, better than most.

  30. Can somebody explain to me why Lopez should be given a super licence? He meets none of the criteria in the FIA’s International Sporting Code, Appendix L, you can’t say he didn’t have the opportunity to (given he has in fact raced in GP2), and how on earth he can be judged to have “met the intent of the qualification process” when fairly clearly what the FIA are after there is a driver who has excelled in international single-seater competition, recently.

    1. “Outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars” can be demonstrated by driving 300km in a current F1 car at racing speed over a two day period. Presumably, Lopez will have at least this much testing before Bahrain.

      1. Yes, but clause f) (“outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars”) includes the rider “but with no opportunity to qualify under any of [the provisions about being successful in GP2/IRL/F3 etc.]”. I don’t see how you can say that about Lopez given he spent two seasons in GP2 without making much of an impact.

        1. But the seasons Lopez spent in GP2 (2005-06) are outside the qualifying period of two years, so his GP2 experience isn’t recent enough to get him in on that front. Demonstrating “outstanding ability” simply means the driver is competent and won’t be a danger to himself or others, nothing more.

          I honestly don’t see the problem with giving Lopez a superlicence – he may only be at US F1 because of his money but he’s shown he can drive a powerful single seater at racing speed, his GP2 results were better than Kobayashi’s and he also has some F1 testing experience with Renault.

          1. his GP2 results were better than Kobayashi’s

            Good point. Same goes for Grosjean, of course…

          2. What interests me about this is the question of whether under the current rules, read in black & white, he is eligible for a Super License or not.

            I have no idea of the mans ability. Never followed him.
            I am sure he’s safe enough etc. etc.

            But if he’s “technically” outside those required qualifications then is this another case of F1 applying the rules selectively. i.e. Money talks.

          3. Kobayashi won GP2 Asia, which qualifies him for a superlicense outright.

            It’s not that I think Lopez is likely to be dangerous in F1 – I just don’t see the point of the FIA’s having this detailed qualification structure if they’re going to let anybody in who meets the minimum requirement of not being a danger to themselves and others.

          4. “I just don’t see the point of the FIA’s having this detailed qualification structure if they’re going to let anybody in who meets the minimum requirement of not being a danger to themselves and others.”

            Anyone who meets the requirements of the detailed qualification structure pretty much gets a superlicence automatically.

            But there may be other perfectly legitimate ways in which a driver can be fit to compete in F1 without having met one of those criteria. This is where the discretionary clause about “outstanding ability” is applied and it doesn’t necessarily follow that a superlicence will be dished out to whoever wants one.

            Kimi Raikkonen jumped straight from FRenault 2.0 (not the WSR) to F1, for example. Under a strict reading of the FIA criteria, Michael Schumacher doesn’t automatically qualify because he has been out of F1 for three years and infrequent Ferrari tests don’t appear to count. A driver who won the GP2 title but then spent three years in the DTM wouldn’t automatically qualify for a superlicence.

            “But if he’s “technically” outside those required qualifications then is this another case of F1 applying the rules selectively. i.e. Money talks.”

            Having discretion within the regulations to consider individual circumstances is not the same as selectively applying the rules. Unless Lopez has completely lost his ability to drive a single seater in the last three years he should still be miles ahead of the likes of Deletraz and Lavagi.

          5. With all those things about superlicense making sure pilots are not a danger for themselves and others, it seems counter productive to have newbees drive a car in the middle of the season without proper prior experience (cf: Alguersari and Grosjean’s “off moments” last year)

          6. To add: what i mean is, I believe having proper testing and some experience with the car is more important to driver qualification than previous experiences on various openseaters etc.

  31. I don’t have anything against Lopez, indeed I wish him well. As someone else said Kobayashi was nothing special in GP2 and looked good in 2 F1 race outings regardless.

    But USF1 made a lot of bluster about not taking pay drivers, and taking American ones at that. Looks a bit silly now.

    Be very interesting to see who their number 2 is.

  32. If Lopez had secured a drive in F1 straight after his stint as a Renault tester finished then there probably wouldn’t be as much fuss as there seems to be even if he was still bringing some funds with him.

    I tend to like it when drivers race in different types of series and with all the negative press USF1 seem to be receiving I hope both he and the team do well.

    Even for an established team I think it would be unwise for both drivers to be rookies so hopefully USF1 manage to get an experienced driver for the second seat.

  33. One name comes to mind. Robert Wickens. I want to see him get a drive.

    1. Wickens is probably our best hope. The problem is that he lost his Red Bull backing. I was expected to be a reserve for Red Bull or Toro Rosso. I cannot understand
      why drop Robert when he finished 2nd in the
      F2 championship?

      JR Hildebrand recently tested for Force India. He still is looking for sponsor for his Indy Car ride. But there are none. His only salvation would be GP2.

      John Edwards won the Atlantic series and has
      no funds. Newman-Wachs have folded operations as they look for the Indy Lights route. But there ar no report. Newman-Wachs are also interested in GP2. Durango recently folded, and they might get that spot.

      Summerton will attempt to get the F2 way amid funding.

      1. Mirko Bortolotti has also been dropped from the Red Bull young driver programme. At this rate, in a few years they’ll be out of decent young drivers because all the ones they sent away will have been snapped up by other teams.
        I wonder if they would ever offer to take one back, something they to my knowledge have never done before, though Red Bull usually continues to sponsor them.

        1. Sorry to double post, but there is no edit button.

          I would like to say about Hildebrand, that I’m slightly worried about him, and that he needs to get into a European racing class now, otherwise his development will slow down. One more year in Indy Lights or whatever will hurt his ability. The best American drivers (Cheever) “grew up” in European lower formulae, and especially with Rossi and now possibly Summerton going the same way, J.R. could find himself trailing the pack of next generation American talents if he doesn’t join them. Which, and that is also the reason why I post this comment, would be a shame, because I like him.

  34. CounterStrike
    26th January 2010, 14:29

    If he’s half as good as Juan Manuel Fangio,he would have done Argentina proud.

  35. Perhaps jose can make a diference

  36. Villeneuve for the second car, or Bourdais.

    1. Oh yes please. I’m still rooting for Villeneuve to get the seat at Renault, but if he doesn’t, he would be easily the best available option for USF1. And a logical choice too. Now, I would really like to see Bourdais back as well, because he hasn’t been given a fair chance in an F1 car yet, so if Jacques gets the Renault seat and Seb goes to USF1, I will be very happy indeed.

  37. Yeah im all for seeing Villeneuve return. It will be good to have 5 WDC winners in the field. Petrov is another good prospect… but I hope Bourdais stays out.

  38. OK, this guy brought money to the team. From what I’ve been reading, Campos should have gotten money up-front from their drivers too. Sounds like they are having financial troubles. Lopez will most likely be a dud, but if he doesn’t crash the car, (too much), he won’t hurt the team. By the way, does he have the required superlicense? The other question is, does this give USF1 enough to hire a veteran that doesn’t have to bring in funding? If so, I hope they bring in Heidfeld! But please…not Ralf.

  39. He may or may not be a ‘rising star’ but if he’s from Argentina he is American. South American.

    1. That’s ridiculous. Its USF1 not AmericaF1.

      Lost interest in USF1 ages ago when they said there wont be a US driver.

  40. Give the guy a chance. His results in GP2 were decent enough to justify an F1 seat, but at the time Kovalainen and Piquet were Renault’s “chosen ones” and so he never really had a chance. Now he’s got a new chance without too much pressure, he just has to keep the car off the walls…

  41. racerdude7730
    26th January 2010, 20:33

    biggest load of BS i have ever heard. I been excited about the USF1 team and being an american about having an all american team with american drives. I am at this point disappointed to no end with it. Everything i hoped for with this team is falling apart in front of me. There is no way they will be more then a last place team with a driver who cant drive a one seater who has little to no experience of it. I don’t know i just hate it. Me and alot of other USF1 fans have emailed them and told them how we feel about it. its not good

  42. I’m finding the whole USF1 thing deeply amusing. We can’t judge Lopez till he has four wheels on the track, but if Renault didn’t want him over Kovalainen and *gulp* Piquet Jnr, then there has to be some doubt as to his abilities. Just because he spanked a bunch of tin-top drivers doesn’t mean at thing. Two Australian tin-toppers who were dominant in their day got nowhere in Europe (Marcos Ambrose and Craig Lowndes) so those who use that as a pointer to talent haven’t really got much to go on.

    USF1 thought they could wander in with all their half-baked rhetoric and have people bashing down their door. They’ve had no such thing – no proper sponsors to speak of, Bernie thinks they’ll have trouble making Bahrain, they’re asking for all sorts of dispensations (and getting them!). And just to make sure, one of their staff trolls people on Twitter when they make a critical remark about USF1 (Brian Bonner, aka @indy92). Although it was around Christmas, so he may have been drunk…

    Anyway…

    This team looks like it’s going nowhere and given what we’ve seen on YouTube (can their press secretary PLEASE tell Windsor to stop looking so smug?)

    Worst of all, it’s another blow to F1’s credibility in the US. I think it was vee8 who put me right in saying they’ll ruin F1 in the US (vee said Bernie had already done that) but I think if Windsor does what I think he’ll do, there are going to be some very unhappy people come, oh, Spain.

    I stand by what I said in my guest article, and given the dispensations the team has been chasing, I think Windsor is discovering that a few of the things I said were probably on the money.

    A pity. Because I want them to work, just as I want Campos and Lotus to work so we have a full grid and happy fans because we want to see cars go racing.

    1. 1. Bernie thinks and says alot of junk about alot of things- it’s the way he operates. Saying things like that about USF1 or Campos is nothing new- he lives to create headlines and controversey.

      2. They never asked for any dispensation to miss the early part of the season. Regaridng testing, you’re darned right they got the dispensation to test the car here in the USA, and why should they not get that opportunity? If they were smart, they would open at least part of the test to the public, and you would be suprised to see how manyy people turn out just for a testing session…

      3. Regarding Lopez, sure Renault took Piquet over him, as Nelson had the two things that gets drives for alot of people….money, and a good last name. He also had some talent in the junior ranks, and combined with the first two he was always going to get an F1 seat.

      4. Why is any of this a blow to F1 in the USA? As I have always said, a US-based team is nothing but a good thing for the sport here. What is really needed to take the next step is a successful American driver, and while I believe there are several such drivers with the potential to reach F1 on pure merit, USF1 hopefully offers the best chance for such drivers to be appreciated in the F1 ranks.

  43. This from the guy that said shame on F1 for not having more American Drivers and Teams..

    I can see the Bahrain Headline now…

    “Windsor shocked to see right hand turns and to learn F1 still goes racing in the rain!!”

    Good luck to them though, anything can happen in F1 and usually does.

  44. Good luck to him and I hope for his sake he can rise to the challenge. I am however curious, as is everyone else, who the second driver will be especially as I thought Peter Windsor was adamant they would have at least one American in the driving seat…

  45. Hiya Gman,

    Bernie makes these public statements to draw something out – it’s not junk, he’s a smart man and very calculated. Perhaps you are right and Bernie’s talking rubbish, but WHY is he talking rubbish? He’s trying to get a reaction and the one he got doesn’t fill me with any confidence at all.

    I don’t doubt a public USF1 test would draw plenty of people. I don’t see why you even mention that. I don’t think there is a problem with popular support for the team if it can manage to do a decent job. The point about the dispensations is that Windsor said being US-based wouldn’t be a problem and now he’s whining that it’s too hard and he needs special permission to test there. And he needs dispensation for straight-line testing that neither Campos or Lotus have asked for. They shouldn’t get the opportunity because nobody else does – Toro Rosso can’t test in Faenza and the British-based teams can’t test in Britain and neither do they whine and ask for it.

    I don’t for a second think Flavio took Piquet on as a driver for either of the reasons you state – money was no object for Renault and the majority of fans don’t care about his Dad, they’re too young to remember. Renault though Piquet Jnr would be a good team mate to Alonso. Both Kovalainen and Alonso showed very well in the same categories. The guy’s got money, something you reckon is up to half the reason Piquet got a go. Cuts both ways. But I think you’ll find Windsor’s assessment of Lopez’s talent is motivated by the dollars that come attached.

    I’ll say it again, It WILL be a blow IF Windsor screws this up. If he pulls it off it will be epic and a great story and I will happily eat humble pie and sing his praises. I won’t ask the same of you if I’m right, though. :-D

    1. Hello again zerogee…always my favorite name on this site ;)

      I don’t doubt Bernie being a smart guy- I had a bit of personal correspondence with him a few years back, and I give him alot of credit. But creating controversey with statements like that are part of his business model. He reminds me of Vince McMahon of the WWE…executives who get personally involved in stirring up the sport. And with new teams coming in, what else do you expect Bernie to talk about…Alonso’s new helmet? I’m not saying he’s right or wrong- all I am saying is it’s how he operates and dosen’t suprise me, so I put little faith in his remarks because he talks alot of hot air.

      No doubt Lopez has that funding to thank of rgetting him the ride with USF1, but I serously doubt that money/name value had as litlte to do with Piquet as you suggest. Any team loves drivers who bring money in some capacity…don’t forget that this is the same Renault team that was recently under threat and sold off the vast majority of their ownership to an outside investor.

      And about the testing….I see no reason why USF1 should not be allowed to run over here at a nearby track. Having seen those photos of the new Williams getitng a shakedown at Silverstone, it isn’t that different in my mind. As for openeing the track to fans, perhaps that was meant to demonstrate the level of interest the team can generate among American F1 fans..I would bet that we’d see better crowds for that than at the IndyCar race Barber is set to host.

      As for the humble pie, I will always back up any remark I make on this site, in either my comments or in my own guest articles. I’ll take my pie in hot apple, with loads of whipped creme ;)

  46. As an Argentine and F1 fan allow me to say:
    Lpez is undoubtably very fast, with very good car control, if somewhat inconsistent. Extremely good on short stints (such as qualifying) but sometimes prone to overcook things on longer runs (concentration, over ambition?). After his return from Europe (I feel that during his last GP2 season he was trying toooo hard to secure his Renault ride) he seems to have matured greatly. Ambituos, fights for positions, often pulls off surprising passes on unexpected lines. If the USF1 is half decent I would leave some credit open.

    1. It’s fun to see how your views contrast with those of the other Argentine poster who said Lpez was “just another guy driving a car”. I’ll give him at least the benefit of the doubt, and we can (and should!) of course always hope for surprises.

      1. The same kind of thing happens down your end of the woods: neither Hamilton nor Button have 100% support from the fan base, even though they’re both world champs.

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