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FIA Reportedly Visiting US F1

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 24 2010
Ken Anderson of US F1 team.

Ken Anderson of US F1 team.

The FIA’s chief technical delegate has visited the headquarters of US F1 in Charlotte to examine the team’s capacity for entering Formula One, the British-based online site for Autosport magazine has reported, citing high-level sources.

Charlie Whiting, the chief technical officer of the FIA, was said to be visiting the team’s facilities on Wednesday, where approximately 10 staff members have left with 60 remaining to pursue the construction of a car. No official confirmation was available from either the team or the FIA of Whiting’s visit.

Last week, team principal Ken Anderson announced he was in discussions with the FIA about missing the first four races of the F1 season and joining the series at Barcelona in Round 5. That announcement caused a rift within the ownership of US F1, including chief investor Chad Hurley, because Anderson’s discussions with the FIA were unknown to any others in the organization.

Anderson’s announcement came after efforts to merge with the Campos Meta team, the other new entrant to F1 having financial difficulties, had failed last week when the team was taken over by Jose Ramon Carabante in place of founder Adrian Campos.

Talks have reconvened this week and continued Wednesday between representatives of new owner Carabante and Hurley with the fate of driver Jose Maria Lopez hanging in the balance, said the driver’s manager Felipe McGough, who is communicating with media outlets in Argentina. The talks about Lopez, who signed a contract including Argentinian-based sponsorship with US F1 in January, are focused on a possible compromise between the two teams that will get the 26-year-old Argentinian on the grid in F1 this season.

It is unclear what role US F1 will play at Campos in case of such a compromise. A source close to the US F1 team has said Hurley, who is represented by Parris Mullins, has the interest of the team and its employees in Charlotte as a priority.

It seems unlikely Campos will get to the grid in Bahrain by Mar. 14 for the world championship’s season opener. Even if the team takes delivery of its contracted Dallara chassis and Cosworth engines with financing from the new ownership, little time or equipment is available to turn the cars around prior to the first practice session in Bahrain.

An insider at the FIA has indicated to RacinToday.com that a surety bond to hold the Campos team’s position as a participant in F1 under the Concorde agreement is an option under consideration.

In another development, a company in Switzerland confirmed Anderson’s assertions about having sponsorship lined up that failed to materialize. Locstein Group AG, a financial services firm, issued a statement saying it had withdrawn from talks with the U.S. team. “Locstein did engage US F1 regarding sponsorship, but when it was apparent that the team was not able to participate in the entire 2010 season, Locstein elected to withdraw from further involvement with USF1,” the company said in a statement.

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com.

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 24 2010
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