Californian one step closer to dream of world title
Not since Michael Andretti in 1993 has an American driver raced in Formula One and the last time an American competed in his home Grand Prix was Eddie Cheever at Phoenix back in 1989. Scott Speed will change all that next season when he lines up on the grid for Red Bulls new Scuderia Toro Rosso team.
In a word, fantastic, said Speed after his race seat was confirmed on Tuesday. Its certainly a feeling of excitement. To bring F1 closer to the American public is exciting. Its going to be incredible to be on the grid in America and at Indy with all of the support behind me. Im really looking forward to it.
Speed, 22 and from Manteca in California, won the Red Bull American Driver Search programme in 2002. The prize was a move to Europe and a British Formula 3 drive. Unfortunately, he fell ill with colitis, a digestive tract condition, and was unable to complete a full season. He quickly fought back, though, winning the Formula Renault German and Eurocup Championships in 2004.
This season he graduated to the GP2 series, finishing third behind Williams-bound Nico Rosberg and Renaults latest signing Heikki Kovalainen, and has already had several Formula One tests for Red Bull. Earlier this year, he drove the teams third car in the Friday practice sessions of the Canadian and US Grands Prix.
Theres been so much hard work, so much weve had to overcome and with the disease I had, and I say we because I had a great group of people supporting me, Speed said. To be an American in F1, it took so much work to move here and prove to people that I belonged, and the work is just starting. Its one step closer to my goal of being World Champion.
The last American driver to achieve that feat was Mario Andretti, father of aforementioned Michael, with Lotus back in 1978.