Why are there so few American drivers in F1?

The challenges are great for American's wanting Formula 1 glory

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Today, we’re talking about American drivers in Formula 1.

Also this week:

  • $3,000 dinners at the Miami Grand Prix are back

  • An ‘iron-shield’ around there Jeddah Grand Prix circuit

  • Best tweets of the week

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In the world of motorsports, the United States boasts a diverse and thriving racing scene with homegrown series like NASCAR and IndyCar taking center stage.

While Formula 1 enjoys immense popularity on the global stage, it remains somewhat overshadowed in the US, raising the question of why American drivers are a rarity in the elite championship.

The United States has a rich motorsport heritage with its own popular racing series, such as NASCAR and IndyCar. These championships draw considerable attention and resources, making it more tempting for American drivers to pursue their careers in those series with more familiarity and opportunities closer to home.

The widespread popularity of other racing series in the United States means that Formula 1 often takes a backseat, leading to less exposure for young drivers. As a result, the funnel of American talent that gets exposed to and pursues a career in Formula 1 is much narrower.

Ever since American driver Danny Sullivan bid farewell to Formula 1 in the 1980s, the presence of American racers in the series has been scarce. Sullivan's departure from the sport highlighted the cumbersome challenges faced by drivers from foreign countries, specifically the United States. With long hours spent traveling and battling homesickness, adapting to Formula 1's rigorous demands was no easy feat.

Furthermore, the sport's profligate nature made it increasingly difficult for Sullivan to secure the much-needed sponsorship money, ultimately forcing him to return home, raising the question - why don't American drivers come to Formula 1?

Drawing upon his own experiences, Sullivan transitioned to a new role in the early 2000s, becoming a talent scout for Red Bull Racing. Through this venture, he discovered that young American drivers and their families were often deterred by the immense dedication and commitment required to succeed in Formula 1.

Competing in Formula 1 requires significant financial support. While getting sponsorships for NASCAR and IndyCar may be easier for American drivers, securing funding for a European-based series like Formula 1 can prove to be more challenging.

For American drivers, pursuing a career in Formula 1 often requires them to move to Europe for prolonged periods, experiencing the challenges of adapting to new cultures, languages, and lifestyles. This relocation both for drivers and their families can be a discouraging factor when considering a career in F1.

And while the wait for American racing enthusiasts to witness a compatriot on the grid is currently over, it still doesn’t feel like it’s being talked about enough stateside.

Legendary team, Williams Racing, has signed the Florida-born Logan Sargeant to one of their seats for the 2023 season.

However, the concentration of excitement seems to still be focused around the hope of an entry by Michael Andretti, son of the legendary Mario Andretti and a former Formula 1 driver himself. Michael Andretti's company, Andretti Autosport, formally intends to establish a Formula 1 team by 2024.

What sets this venture apart is Andretti's commitment to prioritizing signing an American driver, a move that Haas F1 Team has never executed, the only American-owned team currently participating in Formula 1.

This decision by Andretti Autosport not only signifies their dedication to American racing talent but also shifts the attention to the potential impact an American driver could make on the global stage.

Could Andretti Autosport be the catalyst that paves the way for an upsurge of American drivers in Formula 1?

Only time will tell, but for now, their efforts represent a beacon of hope for aspiring racers from the United States as they work arduously toward their Formula 1 aspirations. As Michael and his team lay the groundwork for a new era of American participation in the prestigious racing championship, we can all look forward eagerly to seeing what the future holds.

Notable American Drivers in F1

  1. Mario Andretti (1971 - 1982): Mario Andretti is one of the most successful American F1 drivers, winning the 1978 World Championship for Lotus.

  2. Phil Hill (1958 - 1964): Phil Hill was the first American Formula 1 World Champion, winning the title in 1961 for Ferrari.

  3. Dan Gurney (1959 - 1970): Dan Gurney had a successful career in F1, including winning four Grands Prix and driving for several top teams, such as Ferrari and Lotus.

  4. Richie Ginther (1960 - 1967): Richie Ginther raced in F1 during the 1960s, winning the first Grand Prix for Honda in 1965.

  5. Peter Revson (1964 - 1974): Peter Revson achieved two Grand Prix victories and drove for teams such as McLaren and Shadow.

  6. Eddie Cheever (1978 - 1989): Eddie Cheever participated in almost 150 Grands Prix, driving for teams like Ligier, Tyrrell, and Alfa Romeo.

  7. Danny Sullivan (1983): Danny Sullivan competed in a single F1 season, driving for the Tyrrell team.

  8. Michael Andretti (1993): Michael, Mario Andretti's son, joined F1 for a single season with McLaren in 1993.

  9. Scott Speed (2006 - 2007): Scott Speed became the first American to race in F1 during the 21st century, driving for the Toro Rosso team.

  10. Alexander Rossi (2015): Alexander Rossi raced in a few Grands Prix for the Manor Marussia F1 team in 2015.

$3,000 dinners are back at the Miami Grand Prix

Chef Mario Carbone last year said he wanted to throw a historic dinner party, one sufficiently over the top to mirror the outrageous scale and scope of Miami’s inaugural F1 race. The result was a popup called Carbone Beach — a spinoff of Carbone, the veal parm empire — that for four nights attracted high-profile guests including David Beckham, LeBron James and Derek Jeter. Billionaire Stephen Ross, the Related Cos. chairman who is betting big on South Florida, came for dinner. The Williams sisters showed up. Tickets cost $3,000 a seat for food, drinks and entertainment.

This year, the chef and his partners want to party even harder.

Saudi Arabia to focus ‘iron-shield’ around Jeddah

There will be an increased visible presence - more guards, security sweeps and CCTV.

And then there are the measures that aren’t visible. The embarrassment of last year’s attack is likely to see the full focus of the county’s “iron shield” protection system drawn to Jeddah.

That’s the anti-missile defence system responsible for shooting down unmanned drones, which are used in attacks or to cause significant disruption.

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