Reports circulating the motorsport press indicate that USF1 has signed a provisional contract with Argentine driver Jose Maria Lopez to drive for the new team next season. The arrangement, however, depends on Lopez bringing with him $8 million in sponsorship dollars, of which the young South American reportedly already has 80% in his coffers.

Lopez has experience in formula racing, but has been off the radar for a few years now. After competing in Formula Renault and Formula 3000, Lopez drove a couple of seasons in the GP2 series and even ran some test sessions for Renault F1 . After that, he returned to Argentina, where he competed in local touring cars and in a few international sports car races.

Only a few months ago, USF1 team principal Peter Windsor said the team would absolutely not take on a driver purely on these financial criteria alone, but after balancing their budget, the nascent American grand prix team has apparently decided otherwise. Meanwhile, the team is said to be considering a number of F1 veterans for the second seat, with a 12-name short list that reportedly includes such names as Villeneuve, Montagny and de la Rosa. So much for nurturing American talent.

[Source: Autosport and F1-Live]