Can An American Driver Ever Compete In Formula One?

Scene from the grid of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. [Credit: Haas F1 Team]

With the United States Grand Prix coming this weekend, it will be the first time that an American race will be associated with an American team. In fact, it is the first time in 30 years that a unit like the Haas F1 Team, will have a home race.

The race in Austin, Texas, at the Circuit of the Americas, began with just the venue inspiring minds that for the first time since Indianapolis in 2007, that the country finally has a permanent venue for this sport. Despite the rain soaked 2015 event, the track still has many fans that still flock to this great circuit.

But what is missing if just recently the sport has been mainly taken over by an American firm, that could have a serious impact in how the sport will be run and excepted?

An American driver.

Alexander Rossi celebrates in victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Andy Clary Photo]

Alexander Rossi celebrates in victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Andy Clary Photo]

Since Alexander Rossi rejected the idea of returning to the formula one scene following his dramatic victory at the Indianapolis 500 last May to stay in Indy Cars, there are no real candidates that can drive in the most popular of all motor sports series. Rossi raced for Manor last year, but with Haas as a full supporting formula one team, many would think that it would come down to either owner Gene Haas or his team manager Guenther Steiner to draft another driver from the U.S. to compete. Problem is, according to Haas himself, there are no real replacements that have the challenge to take on the best drivers on the grid.

“If we had to do everything American, we wouldn’t have enough money or enough time for anything,” Haas told ESPN. “We’re here really to build a race team. If an American driver came along to have the pedigree to do this, yeah, we would seriously consider that. But at the moment, there aren’t any F1 drivers. “You’re always looking for experience. It’s a driver’s market right now because we’ve lost two very experienced drivers and the newcomers really don’t have much experiences. There’s lots of drivers out there but you take that chance of the unknown. There’s a lot of people that can compete well in GP3 and GP2. They qualify well but racing in Formula One is a whole different sport.”

For the moment, the team has not confirmed whether to keep Mexican teammate Esteban Gutierrez for another season, as Romain Grosjean already is confirmed with a contract for one more year.

Although both Haas and Steiner believes that the team would not be good for the moment with an American driver, one critic has hit out at both of them, stating that the choice of an American driver for an American team should happen now. Mario Andretti, the last American world champion in 1978, believes that signing a U.S. driver would give lots of exposure for the sport in this country.

“Having an American team there, maybe some of that will change and I hope they do sign an American one day because I think you have a vast fan base here in the United States. He said. “Even for Formula One, I think it’s understated. But I can see it really really magnifying if there was an American driver there, especially now there’s the race at Circuit of the Americas. Alexander Rossi is one perfect example of one [American] talent being overlooked for some reason. He’s done very well in GP2 and all that, he knows the circuits very well and has the experience. But when you’re not considered by a top team there’s no way you’re going to be able to show what you can do.”

Whether this chance of obtaining an American driver for Haas or any other team will happen sooner or later is unclear, but either way, it is the only thing that has not been attempted in order to make the sport have popularity for more fans in the country to follow.

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