USF1’s future in turmoil as Stefan GP looks set to be awarded final grid slot

The future of USF1 appears to have hit a dead end, after the team confirmed that it will not race in 2010 – a move which has prompted the FIA to review the situation.

On Tuesday, sources within the team revealed to Autosport that operations are the Charlotte headquarters had ground to a halt, with employees being placed on unpaid leave. Subsequently this was confirmed by co-owner Ken Anderson who stated that the outfit is trying to defer its entry by one year.

“We have applied to the FIA to hold our entry until 2011. It was supposed to be confidential, so I could not really comment on it. It seems to have leaked out though.” Anderson told Autosport.

“We are waiting for a reply from the FIA and are working with them. In the mean time, there is nothing for the employees to do, so we have told them to stop working on the current car until we have a decision.”

However, it appears that the FIA has rejected Anderson’s plea with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reporting that the governing body is now debating over whether or not to award the final grid slot to Stefan GP.

F1 Commercial-supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes that it would make “little sense” for the FIA to open the entry to tender, with the season opener in Bahrain only days away.

Ecclestone also denied that Stefan GP would need to secure the approval of the other F1 teams if it wished to enter, stating that the decision lay with the sport’s governing body.

Meanwhile, Felipe McGough, manager of Juan Maria Lopez, has slammed the situation, laying the blame squarely at Anderson.

“The main culprit of all this is Ken Anderson,” McGough said in an interview with Argentina’s FOX Sports.

“These people fooled the FIA, FOTA and all the teams, FOM, all the employees they hired, ‘Pechito’ Lopez, and Milos Pavlovic, the other driver they had signed to be in the project.

“It’s not that they fooled us only. The situation of US F1 in Europe is some sort of scandal amongst teams because it makes F1 looks very bad. Argentina is just a small part of the problem, but it’s a very, very big for Formula 1.”

The demise of USF1 leaves Lopez without a drive for the 2010 season. However, his management team are convinced that the young Argentine will find a berth, with a reserve role at Hispania Racing looking likely.

“We spent all day talking with the team,” he added. “We finally managed to get released from the contract with the US F1 team. We had a meeting with Ken Anderson, with Chad Hurley’s representatives, with Peter Windsor and with team’s lawyers.

“It was a very complex situation because they had not breached the contract, but we knew they would not make it to Bahrain. So we had to find a solution so Jose Maria would not be tied to the team and he could find an alternative.

“And that’s what we achieved after a lot of hours of negotiation.”