Mike Stevens | Jan 25, 2010

KEEPING ITS CARDS close to its chest until now, new Formula 1 team USF1 is set to announce former Renault test driver Jose Maria Lopez as its first driver for the 2010 F1 season.

While now official, the news of Lopez's signing is no surprise, with the 26 year old confirming months ago that he would be driving for USF1 if he could secure enough personal sponsorship.

As part of his funding, Lopez will also be backed in some part by the government of his native Argentina, where former grand prix winner Carlos Reutemann - a close friend of USF1 boss Peter Windsor - is a leading politician.

Speaking with Reuters this week, Lopez's spokesperson Miguel Mattos said: "Everything has been agreed and the official announcement will be made on Monday (Tuesday in Australia)".

Lopez got his start in the Formula 3000 series and GP2 between 2004 and 2006, before being picked up by Renault. Returning to Argentina, Lopez most recently raced in the domestic TC2000 series, claiming back-to-back titles.

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