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.