F1 News: Jerez Day 1 (Test 2), Continued Dire Rumors About USF1

What Happens When the Day is Equally Exciting and Sad

12:02am EST —  News from F1 on Wednesday were equal parts interesting and disheartening, with another day of testing in Jerez to tax one’s analysis and rumors out of Argentina about the viability of USF1.

Vettel Tops First Day of Second Jerez Test: (as I posted at F1B earlier in the day)
Testing began again in Jerez with continued rain and damp conditions, and the drivers were not able to set times as fast as the young drivers late last year or the fastest times set on Friday.  Sebastian Vettel was fastest for Red Bull in the day-long session (1:22.593) that saw multiple red flags, driver changes at Force India, and another day of low laps run for Virgin Racing.  In an amusing turn, the official Red Bull Twitter account (cleverly named Red Bull Spy), noted “Seb top of the timesheets today and as usual driving like a man with his underpants on fire. He doesn’t really get the concept of ‘testing’.”
Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, with Felipe Massa in the Ferrari third, about .7 back from Vettel.  Ferrari, however, were not pleased, noting on Twitter, “Honestly, it was not a very productive day for the team. Anyway, we did what we could.”
LotusF1, in their debut, stopped about an hour early after running seventy-six laps.  According to the team, Tony Fernandes, and Mike Gascoyne Twitter accounts, Fauzy was driving without power steering, due to a supplier issue and not a mechanical problem.  He did, however, complete the laps necessary to obtain his Superlicense after FIA approval.  With Williams in tenth, LotusF1 in eleventh, and Virgin Racing in twelfth, all the Cosworth-powered cars were lumped together at the bottom of the timesheet.  Williams, through Claire Williams on Twitter, continues to note that “Rubens is doing long runs to check systems this morning” and “Rubens is doing set-up work this afternoon” and that the times are not necessarily representative.  As per usual, none of the times are truly representative of a usually dry race, with the wet weather, heavy or light fuel loads, and changes to set-up specially made for testing.  It all begins again Thursday morning, so pack up the galoshes.  To see the full list of times and further analysis, follow the headline link.

The USF1 Story from Argentina:
There are pointed rumors and stories coming out of Argentina suggesting that the team is seriously floundering and unlikely to make the 2010 season.  Argentina is the home country of the team’s single contracted driver, Jose Maria “Pechito” Lopez.  While nothing has been confirmed by the team, industry sources and those close to the team suggest to F1B that these rumors might be based in fact.
La Voz del Interior
, the newspaper from Lopez’ home province of Cordoba, Argentina, ran a story Wednesday saying (in the original Spanish here), “Peter Windsor, sporting director of the team, gathered at the headquarters of Charlotte with the entrepreneur Felipe McGough [Pechito’s manager] and Jose Lopez (father), he admits that it will not build F1 cars of the U.S. within the agreed timeframe and, with tears in eyes, do not know what to do with your project.”  The article continues, “so little money was coming into the U.S. F1 Cosworth had not sent the engines and was working in a ‘imitation” of the impeller’ ” and notes that “Argentina agreed to pay up-way Automóvil Club Argentino-two million dollars, of which, 830 thousand and were deposited in a U.S. bank account.”  While Google’s translation is, as always, a bit wonky, the meaning is clear: in Argentina, word on USF1 is that the team will not race in 2010.
Adding insult to injury, Lopez’s official website later confirmed the meeting in Charlotte (though not of the details of the meeting) and the subsequent meetings in Europe with Bernie Ecclestone (here in Spanish).


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