With Formula 1 set to take off in United States, lack of American driver could prove hurdle

  • Article by: MICHAEL CASEY , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 10, 2013 - 1:15 PM

SILVERSTONE, England — As Formula One expands its reach into the United States, there's still a missing ingredient that could keep some fans away from the stands — an American driver on the grid.

There hasn't been an American in Formula One since 2007 when Scott Speed drove for Toro Rosso. But the pressure is building for an American to make the jump now that the United States successfully hosted the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, last year and is set to hold second grand prix in New Jersey as soon as 2014.

"It would be tremendous boost for Formula One to have an American driver," Mario Andretti, the Formula One champion in 1978, told The Associated Press. "It would not only be good for America but also Formula One. No question about it. The U.S. is a very powerful nation from the standpoint of the financial situation. Every company in Formula One now does business in the Unites States."

Scores of Americans have given F1 a try but few have succeeded. Andretti was the last American to win a drivers' championship title and before him it was Phil Hill in 1961. More common were the likes of Andretti's son Michael, who raced 13 grand prix races for McLaren in 1993 with a third-place finish as his best result. Speed never scored a point in the two years he raced in F1.

There was talk in 2010 of creating an American team dubbed USF1 team with strong backing from YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley and featuring Danica Patrick and possibly Speed as drivers. But USF1 struggled to attract sponsors amid the global recession and ran afoul of F1 when it didn't race in 2010.

The dearth of drivers — there are only Americans Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly in all the F1 feeders — is blamed on the a mix of cultural and financial factors. Among the biggest challenges is raising the millions needed to fund a team from American corporations that may have doubts about the benefits of investing in a sport that is not a major attraction in the U.S.

"It's extremely difficult for an American mostly because there is no American support from companies," said Speed, who now races in NASCAR and Global Rally Cross. "Why would an American company spend x amount of money in Formula One when they can get 10 times that exposure in America racing NASCAR? It makes zero sense financially."

F1 drivers and executives said it also can be difficult for an American to make the transition to F1 since they are raised on tracks and a system that grooms them for IndyCar and NASCAR rather than serpentine circuits of Europe. There also isn't the kind of support system that European drivers can count on to provide mentoring and the occasional break as they attempt to rise through the ranks of the sport.

"Formula One has flirted with North American for many years but Formula One hasn't been seen as the pinnacle of the sport in the eyes of youngster in North America. North America has evolved in a slightly different approach with things like NASCAR," said McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh, who heads the F1 teams' association. "North American doesn't have the karting program. Without exception, every single one of these (F1) drivers started at 8 or 9 in karting and went into competitive karting. Karting became the launch pad for their careers."

In the short term, Whitmarsh said prospective American drivers will have to go to Europe early on in their careers. But Andretti said the addition of two American races should help in the long-term — by inspiring more youngsters to take up the sport, providing the facilities needed to develop that talent and convincing American companies to step up their sponsorship.

Rossi and Daly have beaten the odds partly because they are not your typical American drivers. Rossi is a reserve driver for Caterham and drives for them in the series GP2 which is a notch below F1. Daly drives in a lesser, GP3 series with ART Grand Prix.

Both grew up on F1 — Rossi watching as a 6-year-old with his father — and Daly benefiting from the stories a father, Derek, who raced in F1 from 1978 to 1982. They also raced in Europe at a young age which Whitmarsh and others recommend. Rossi moved to Italy at 16 to pursue his F1 dream while the 21-year-old Daly first raced as a 16-year-old in Europe before moving there in 2011.

The duo also have the belief they will make it to F1 — emboldened by the success they have had so far. Daly won a race in Barcelona last year and again this year in Valencia and sits fifth in the GP3 standings. Rossi joined Caterham in 2011 as a test driver and was named a reserve driver this year. He then replaced Chinese reserve driver Ma Qing Hua in GP2 after the opening race in Malaysia and placed third place in Bahrain.

"When we were able to come over here and win races and qualify on pole, it justified that we can do it too. That is what has been encouraging," Daly said.

"Rossi has been great so far and he has done an awesome job and he has kind of gotten there with Caterham already," he said. "It's not just one American we want in F1. It's as many as we can get. Right now, it's just us two that at least have made it into Formula One cars and are kind of getting there."

The two also understand the significance of becoming the next American on the grid. They have already witnessed a few flag-waving Americans at European races and the kind of support that comes across Twitter and Facebook when they win races. Doing that in Austin or New Jersey, they said, would be special.

"It would mean everything not only to be an American on the grid but to be an American on the grid as Formula One starts to rebuild an audience in America," Rossi said. "The timing would be amazing."

Noting the buzz he saw for Brit Lewis Hamilton at the British GP and Spaniard Fernando Alonso at the Spanish GP, Daly said an American race needs a homegrown driver.

"In America, we have a race. Any drivers? No. Was there a good crowd? Absolutely, it's a great venue Austin and the track is incredible. But in reality, who do Americans have to cheer for?" he said. "It's like the Olympics. When you watch the Olympics, you want to see Americans do well."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Detroit 6:00 PM
Washington
Atlanta 6:30 PM
Miami
Toronto 6:30 PM
New York
Memphis 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
Dallas
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Utah
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Phoenix
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Florida 5
Detroit 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Carolina 5 3rd Prd 11:48
NY Islanders 2
New Jersey 1 3rd Prd 9:10
Columbus 0
Arizona 0 3rd Prd
Boston 4
Toronto 6:00 PM
Montreal
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Colorado
St. Louis 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Ottawa 9:00 PM
San Jose
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
IUPUI 80
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
Utah State 74 FINAL
Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
UMBC 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
TCU 60 FINAL
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
Oakland 63 FINAL
Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
Campbell 65 FINAL
Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
NJIT 90
Middle Tennessee 95 FINAL
UAB 100
UNC-Asheville 95 FINAL
Liberty 77
Southern Utah 71 FINAL
North Dakota 65
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Chicago State 65
ULM 43 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Bowling Green 62 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 57
Long Island 73 FINAL
Sacred Heart 84
West Virginia 66 FINAL
Baylor 78
Holy Cross 77 FINAL
Boston Univ 70
MD-Eastern Shore 69 FINAL
Delaware State 65
Wofford 62 FINAL
Furman 60
Montana State 73 FINAL
Idaho 80
Hofstra 73 FINAL
James Madison 82
Iowa State 69 FINAL
Kansas State 70
Arkansas 67 FINAL
Kentucky 84
Missouri State 51 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Fordham 74 FINAL
Massachusetts 82
Nicholls 78 FINAL
McNeese State 83
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Coppin State 88 FINAL
Morgan State 77
San Diego 78 FINAL
Portland 66
Gardner-Webb 62 FINAL
Radford 72
St Francis-PA 70 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Duquesne 75 FINAL
St Bonaventure 92
Creighton 66 FINAL
Seton Hall 67
Oklahoma State 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 63
Alabama 66 FINAL
Vanderbilt 73
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
Virginia 69
Bethune-Cookman 49 FINAL
NC Central 72
St Francis-NY 51 FINAL
Bryant 61
Drake 57 FINAL
Southern Ill 63
High Point 93 FINAL
Char Southern 97
Central Conn St 66 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 73
Eastern Mich 72 FINAL
Western Mich 80
Texas 64 2nd Half 0:47
Kansas 66
Chattanooga 54 2nd Half 1:15
UNC Greensboro 55
SE Louisiana 62 2nd Half 2:45
Central Arkansas 67
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
South Dakota 80
Montana 77 FINAL
Eastern Wash 76
Georgia State 69 2nd Half 1:35
Troy 57
Old Dominion 45 2nd Half 10:52
North Texas 43
Arkansas State 44 2nd Half 7:46
Texas State 54
Texas Southern 18 1st Half 7:00
Alabama State 20
Tennessee St 35 2nd Half 16:20
Belmont 59
Princeton 43 2nd Half 20:00
Brown 29
Dartmouth 29 2nd Half 17:26
Cornell 16
Tennessee 22 2nd Half
Florida 40
Jacksonville St 36 2nd Half 17:08
Morehead State 47
San Jose St 31 2nd Half
Nevada 30
Florida A&M 22 2nd Half
NC A&T 28
Iowa 31 2nd Half
Penn State 29
Loyola Marymount 29 2nd Half
Pepperdine 31
Miss State 35 2nd Half 18:10
South Carolina 43
Savannah State 34 2nd Half
SC State 30
Miss Valley St 13 1st Half 5:41
Jackson State 37
Alcorn State 17 1st Half 5:00
Southern U 20
Harvard 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Washington 0 1st Half 20:00
Davidson 0
Syracuse 6:00 PM
Duke
Tenn Tech 6 1st Half 15:53
Eastern Ky 8
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
Elon
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Hartford
Northwestern 0 1st Half 18:26
Illinois 3
Western Ill 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Buffalo 0 1st Half 20:00
Kent State 0
Incarnate Word 6:00 PM
Lamar
Cal State Fullerton 2 1st Half 17:40
Long Beach State 4
TX-San Antonio 0 1st Half 19:33
Louisiana Tech 0
Fla Atlantic 0 1st Half 19:11
Marshall 2
Richmond 3 1st Half 17:24
Saint Josephs 5
George Mason 0 1st Half 19:30
Saint Louis 0
Austin Peay 8 1st Half 16:27
SE Missouri St 5
Murray State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
Ball State 0 1st Half 20:00
Toledo 0
Penn 6:00 PM
Yale
Milwaukee 0 1st Half 19:40
Youngstown St 0
Stetson 2 1st Half 18:54
North Florida 3
USC Upstate 4 1st Half 18:45
Northern Ky 2
Grand Canyon 6:05 PM
UMKC
Abilene Christian 6:15 PM
New Orleans
Hampton 6:25 PM
Howard
Prairie View 6:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Tulsa 7:00 PM
Memphis
Wyoming 7:00 PM
UNLV
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Denver 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Rice
Boise State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
St Marys-CA 7:00 PM
Santa Clara
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
New Mexico St 0 Postponed
TX-Pan American 0
FIU 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Ga Southern 7:15 PM
Louisiana
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Grambling St 7:30 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Auburn 7:30 PM
Texas A&M
Arizona 8:00 PM
Utah
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UC Davis 0 1st Half
Cal Poly 0
New Mexico 9:00 PM
Fresno State
BYU 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Pacific 9:00 PM
San Francisco
Idaho State 9:00 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 9:05 PM
Portland State
UC Riverside 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge
Washington 9:30 PM
USC
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
Seattle
UC Irvine 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
ULM 61 FINAL
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 FINAL
Texas State 83
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 FINAL
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 83 FINAL
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 56 FINAL
Oral Roberts 84
Air Force 50 FINAL
Utah State 84
San Diego State 58 FINAL
Boise State 62
Fresno State 60 FINAL
New Mexico 63
Florida A&M 42 FINAL
NC A&T 78
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
BYU 66
South Florida 99 FINAL
UCF 71
UCLA 61 FINAL
Washington 74
(3) Baylor 71 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Tenn Tech 84 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 71
UMKC 42 FINAL
Grand Canyon 56
Seattle 61 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 73
Texas Southern 64 FINAL
Alabama State 52
Santa Clara 71 FINAL
St Marys-CA 74
UNLV 68 FINAL
Wyoming 99
Savannah State 55 FINAL
SC State 52
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Southern U
Miss Valley St 54 FINAL
Jackson State 58
Bucknell 55 FINAL
American Univ 65
Radford 63 FINAL
High Point 83
Eastern Washington 59 FINAL
Montana 69
Idaho 62 FINAL
Montana State 71
Weber State 56 FINAL
Idaho State 63
Green Bay 73 FINAL
Youngstown St 27
Oakland 54 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 64
Austin Peay 72 FINAL
SE Missouri St 67
Wagner 65 FINAL
Mount St Marys 68
Portland 72 FINAL
San Diego 80
Nevada 72 FINAL
San Jose St 81
Stephen F Austin 69 FINAL
Houston Baptist 57
Incarnate Word 64 FINAL
Lamar 81
Abilene Christian 50 FINAL
New Orleans 71
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 74
San Francisco 91 FINAL
Pacific 79
Prairie View 81 FINAL
Alabama A&M 71
Hampton 106 FINAL
Howard 57
Chicago State 53 FINAL
Utah Valley U 68
Cal Poly 75 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 84
UC Santa Barbara 57 FINAL
UC Davis 52
Marshall 73 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 83
Portland State 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 123
Western Ky 48 2nd Half 14:56
FIU 25
UAB 24 2nd Half
Middle Tennessee 24
Georgia Southern 22 2nd Half 18:07
Louisiana 34
Grambling 16 2nd Half
Ark-Pine Bluff 28
Ark-Little Rock 32 2nd Half 14:55
TX-Arlington 25
Cornell 19 2nd Half
Dartmouth 28
Columbia 45 2nd Half
Harvard 43
Brown 30 2nd Half
(14) Princeton 35
USC 31 2nd Half
Washington St 35
(24) California 27 2nd Half 17:55
(7) Oregon State 40
Yale 6:00 PM
Penn
Murray State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
Loyola-Maryland 8 1st Half 15:25
Navy 8
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
(21) Fla Gulf Coast
Long Beach St 0 1st Half 20:00
Cal State Fullerton 0
Rice 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Colgate 6:30 PM
Lehigh
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Kansas 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close