As rumoured earlier this week, Swiss investment concern Locstein AG has decided to withdraw its backing for the ailing USF1 operation, potentially hammering another nail into the project's coffin.

The news was confirmed via a brief press statement from Locstein headquarters, and suggests that the company got cold feet waiting for developments from the Carolina-based F1 hopeful. Speculation had linked Locstein to a possible title sponsorship role, despite the presence of YouTube founder Chad Hurley as a major figure in the USF1 story, but may have been deterred from taking its involvement further by suggestions that Hurley was looking to take his investment elsewhere.

"As a matter of course, Locstein evaluates a variety of business opportunities around the globe, including sponsorship in F1 racing," the official statement confirmed, "Locstein did engage the USF1 team 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."

While diplomatically wishing 'the USF1 organisation the best of luck in their endeavours', it now remains to be seen whether Locstein does indeed opt to remain in pursuit of an F1 relationship, and whether it decides that that should be with an established outfit or another start-up, such as Campos Meta, which continues to be linked with Hurley.

Locstein apparently took the decision to quit USF1 before the team's head of business development Brian Bonner left, but now has its account handled by the American at B4 Marketing. Ironically, however, it could yet be working with elements of the USF1 operation, should speculation that Jose Maria Lopez's anticipated move to Campos Meta could yield a merger between the struggling F1 hopefuls - a move which would also free up a space for the ambitious Stefan GP outfit to join the grid [see story here].

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