US F1 loses major sponsor
Further setback for American-based newcomer
Last Updated: 24/02/10 3:16pm
Doubts: US F1 co-founder Ken Anderson
The future of the new US F1 team has been thrown further into doubt after a major potential sponsor announced that it would not provide backing.
Geneva-based financial services group Locstein said it would not sponsor the North Carolina-based outfit after they asked the FIA about the possibility of missing the opening four races of the season.
A statement read: "As a matter of course, Locstein evaluates a variety of business opportunities around the globe, including sponsorship in Formula One racing.
"Locstein did engage US F1 Team regarding sponsorship, but when it was apparent the team was not able to participate in the entire 2010 season, Locstein elected to withdraw from further involvement with US F1."
US F1, founded by Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor, are one of four new teams granted places on the F1 grid this season.
However, they have been beset by financial difficulties with the promise of long-term funding failing to materialise.
Delays in the design and production of their first chassis have also prevented them from enticing new sponsors to plug the gap.
The net result is that work has ground to a halt, with cash flow problems also bringing a delay in last month's payroll and several members of the workforce quitting.
Furthermore, the team's key investor, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, has held talks with another of the new teams, Spain's Campos Meta.
It is unclear, however, whether Hurley's meeting signals a switch in allegiance, or whether it was to forge a link between the two struggling teams.
According to the manager of Jose Maria Lopez, who remains US F1's only signed driver for 2010, the Argentinian driver's future was discussed.
"The two groups that talked will do everything possible so that 'Pechito' (Lopez) can be in Formula One," Philip McGough told Argentina's Diario Hoy.
"Both Chad Hurley and Jose Carabante talked for several hours to find a solution for the budget issues both teams have.
"For us this merger is very important as it works in favour of Lopez racing this year.
"Right now things are in the hands of the two investing groups who have the final word."
Lopez is believed to have around £5million worth of sponsorship behind him to guarantee a drive in F1.
Campos Meta, who are also struggling to make the start of the season, were last week the subject of an internal takeover by partner and president Jose Ramon Carabante.
However, Bernie Ecclestone is understood to have also played a role in the deal.