Lopez joins US F1 for 2010
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, January 26th 2010, 07:48 GMT|
Team US F1 has signed former Renault test driver Jose Maria Lopez to join its debut season in Formula 1.
The Argentinean's move into F1 with the Charlotte-based outfit was announced by the President of his native country, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in Buenos Aires late on Monday evening.
Speaking about his step up to F1, Lopez said: "This is a truly memorable day for me, my family and the people of Argentina.
"I have been working towards this day for much of my life and I can't 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."
US F1 executive vice president Peter Windsor said he had been following Lopez's career for several years.
"Securing 'Pechito' Lopez for our debut season has been a goal of ours for a long time," he said. "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 1.
"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."
Lopez enjoyed a successful kart career and won several championships in junior single seaters, including the 2002 Italian Formula Renault Championship and the European Formula Renault V6 Championship in 2003.
He was a race winner in GP2, triumphing at Barcelona in 2005, and he also he completed several thousands of miles in F1 machinery in his test driver role with Renault in 2003 before returning to race action in touring cars in his native Argentina.