US F1 had signed Rossiter as well as Lopez – but still the sums didn’t add up

Former Honda test driver James Rossiter had signed for US F1

Further evidence of the apparent mismanagement at US F1 has come with the confirmation that the team had not one but two fully sponsored drivers signed up well before the start of the season – and yet still couldn’t manage to build a car in time.

The team announced on January 25 that it had signed Jose Maria Lopez, but it never officially confirmed that in December it had also agreed a deal with former Honda test driver James Rossiter.

While there were rumours that Rossiter was in the frame – thanks to Lopez’s management telling the Argentinian media – sources confirm that the deal was in fact signed and sealed. Both drivers were committed to bringing $8m, a large chunk of which – as is standard practice – was to be paid before the first race.

However in early February Rossiter’s backers sought reassurances that everything was going to plan in Charlotte, and that sufficient additional funding was in place.

When US F1 was not able to provide those guarantees, Rossiter withdrew from the deal.

Days later US F1 had a showdown with Lopez’s management, and confirmed to the driver that the team would not make Bahrain. At that point Lopez also pulled out and went to Europe in a desperate effort to look for an alternative seat. Lopez’s management has since complained that the team must have known the situation when the deal was signed.

Certainly the fact that US F1 failed to build a car on time – despite having contracts with two drivers with F1 testing experience with a combined value of $16m – would suggest that something about the project was deeply flawed.

Rossiter has since signed up with the KVRT IndyCar team.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “US F1 had signed Rossiter as well as Lopez – but still the sums didn’t add up

  1. John

    As an American I hope this mess is not repeated anytime soon by any teams for that matter, lessons can be learned once the full truth is out.

    I wonder Adam, if Hurley was behind the visit of one Charlie Whiting, and then offered up the surety bond along with changes to the management of the team. I could see Hurley gaining control, installing talented people to run the team, while keeping Ken and Peter in some fashion. That would make some bit of sense to me.

    I would love to see Rossiter in F1, surely he would get there one way or the other, unless he now falls in love with IRL and never looks back.

    My personal theory (maybe with a tinfoil hat on) is that Chad was behind the visit of CW to the factory trying to save the deal, out of that came the surety bond, and demand for management changes?

    • Floyd

      I hope Chad can buyout Ken & Peter’s share in the team and then get to setting things right.

      They should have accepted Lola’s offer to build their car for the first year or two. It is extremely difficult to start an F1 business from scratch with absolutely no experience in building the car in the lower formula series.

      I wonder what they were upto for the past 5 years.

      • John

        An extra year would certainly let Chad get the factory sorted and capable of building the cars. They had the talent to build the cars, and the will to build the cars, but someone it seems kept getting in the way. (Money was also an issue) Lately Chad has surrounded himself with people who really know the sport, so that is a bonus.

        Personally I would love to see Swift build an F1 car as well, maybe they can consult with them.

        Seeing in lots of places that PW is no longer in the picture, could it be Chad bought him out? I am still guessing that KA put a good amount of money into the team, he had been planning this for sometime, so either with loans or saved money. However, I really do not know.

      • F1 Kitteh

        I think that KA/PW knows that the project is a sunk cause and they are just playing hardball with Chad to get at his pockets to recoup their own investment. As it stands, the company is probably headed for bankruptcy or liquidation and they are hanging on to their shares reasoning that Chad will fold and pay up in the end. Don’t think this is very good for their image and credibility, or whatever is left of it. Hopefully a middle ground can be found so these two can be sidelined and that the project/jobs/team can be saved by a new management team. Think Chad probably needs a new adviser as well since whoever he’s hooked up with didn’t seem to have done their homework the first time around.

    • Chad is certainly at the heart of the bond and one year deferral. No idea on whether he prompted the Charlie visit, but it’s a theory!

  2. Mike from Medellin, Colombia

    I believe that the flaw is Peter Windsor. Clearly out of his depth on this one and backed a pretty flawed concept from the outset.

    Windsor talks a good game, but is often quite vague on detail at times. His driver database being a prime example. I have heard him talking about comparing the “suppleness or driver hand movements in his analysis”….???? Hmmmm….don’t buy into him at all.

    • Steve

      I’m starting to think PW was def. the flaw…but, when I read about KA mis-management (holding up development by having to sign-off on every small detail) I’m left assuming BOTH these 2 are out of there elements at this level. Peter is a great journalist, but Adam noted his less than 24/7 attention to this plan…my god, I’m just a guy in Louisiana but I know this is not something you do as a hobby, running ANY race team much less F1. Lastly, I do know any good owner(s) install the right people to run a team. And hands off!! It worked for our N.O. Saints. Great GM. Is it just me but seems like there was a lack of a real GM/or the owners got in the way….who knows! This is better than The Days of Our Lives!!

  3. As a Brit, I’m wondering where Rossiter got the money from. Do we know?

  4. Guy

    It seems that the USF1 adventure is a mascarade at all where lying and false information has been provided during all the process. If the FIA has balls which I doubt strongly, they would stop that situation right away. It’s a shame for the employees at the plant, but their future doesn’t look bright anyway because they cannot count on the promesses given by their management.

    Let the professionals doing F1.

  5. Black Knight

    Adam,

    It’s apparent to me the the two pay drivers did more due dillagence than the FIA. Not one dollar changed hands after a brief Q&A session with the principals. Am I off the mark here ?

  6. This whole situation reminds of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

    Without a driver you can’t race, without a car you don’t get a driver. Without money you can get a driver but not a car.

    We are told the sums of money invloved run into $millions. This driver will “pay” $X Million to be allowed to driver. This company paid $Y to be involved.

    Lets be honest who is going to hand over “hard” cash – in the Millions – without serious proof.

    Everybody says that “Chad” has handed over $20M into a project that was say $50M. In real business – and “Chad” is 1) not stupid; 2) in real business – that gives the investor an incredible amount of power. Considering that, the amount of equity generated would be the “lions share”, that is a controlling interest not a subordinate one.

    In my distant past I have been involved in $20M plus projects and trust me an investor does not just hand over $20M in a single cheque/draft or suitcase full of greenbacks. In most cases there are performance clauses and stage payments. Negotiations for $20 do not take place over a Big Mac and a coke. There are teams of people involved, bankers, accountants, lawyers etc…

    The chances are the “Chad” will not have lost $20M – if he has I feel sorry for his due dilligence team of accountants, lawyers etc. as I can see some big court cases.

    Desipte that I agree he will have made some “hard investment”.

    I guess that one of the money release clauses would have been based on a driver (or 2) handing out their money, another being production of the car.

    But guess what the driver(/s) would not part with their money till the car and ummm… Chad would not realease his money till the drivers released theirs and round and round we go.

    There is no escaping that the whole USF1 situation is a farce and in that context the real blame must actually rest with person, people, organisations that put rubber stamps to any agreements.

  7. Mike from Medellin, Colombia

    Watch this video of Windsor to see how full of guff he is…

    The first 38 secs are in Spanish and then Windsorspeak takes over.

  8. Steve

    Any sponsorship money is almost always given in allotments based on certain requirements. I know in Nascar, Chrylser was late in making payments to Petty Ent. (I think..or was it RCR?) last year and its signed contract was for 4 payments to the team. Undoubtedly, this is where USF1 got into trouble…and the vicious cycle began. A cycle that just keeps on snowballing.

    P.S. Personally, I think PW is done with USF1, D. Despain said he thinks he’s not involved Sunday from what I recall. He prob. has a good scoop.

    P.P.S Did anyone read the last Road and Track issue? Mine just came Friday and in it is a big USF1 article, talking about 2010/Bahrain, etc…reading it Friday was pretty amusing…

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