Formula One will have 12 teams this season, instead of a planned 13, after a late replacement for the USF1 entry was ruled out by the governing body on Wednesday.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that USF1 had “indicated that they will not be in a position to participate in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship.
“Having considered the various options, the FIA confirms that it is not possible for a replacement team to be entered for the Championship at this late stage,” it said.
The decision ended the hopes of Serbian-backed Stefan GP, who were waiting in the wings to take the stricken US team’s place at next week’s season-opener in Bahrain.
The FIA said it would announce shortly details of a new selection process “to identify candidates to fill any vacancies existing at the start of the 2011 season.”
Charlotte, North Carolina-based USF1 had planned to become Formula One’s first all-US team in more than 40 years but struggled to raise funding during the worst economic downturn to hit the US since the 1930s.
Principal Ken Anderson had said on Tuesday that his team, one of four newcomers planning to debut this season, had asked to defer their entry for a year and had meanwhile told employees to stop work at the factory.
USF1 had previously announced a deal for Argentine Jose Maria Lopez to drive for them. Lopez’s management has since terminated the contract.
Stefan GP, run by Serbian businessman Zoran Stefanovic and encouraged by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, had agreed a deal with Toyota to use the cars they had built for this season before the manufacturer pulled out at the end of last year.
Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima would have been one of their drivers while Canada’s former world champion Jacques Villeneuve had also been in contact with the team, who had not taken part in any testing.
The absence of USF1 left Virgin Racing, Malaysian-backed Lotus Racing and the renamed HRT F1 (formerly Campos Meta) as the three completely new teams.
HRT are the only team still to confirm their second driver, although Indian Karun Chandhok was expected to be announced at a presentation in Spain yesterday alongside already-signed Brazilian Bruno Senna.
The BMW Sauber team kept their name from last year in the official entry list, despite the departure of BMW and the fact that they are now powered by Ferrari engines.
Meanwhile Renault says it has struck a sponsorship deal with Russian carmaker Lada.
The deal, signed on Monday and announced yesterday, comes after Renault hired Vitaly Petrov as a driver — the first Russian to drive in F1.
The Lada name will appear on the chassis of the Renault car and on Petrov’s overalls and teamwear.