A US driver returns to Formula One racing
American Scott Speed will appear as Red Bull Racing's third driver at this weekends Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, as well as at the following round, his home race at Indianapolis.
Speed, a member or Red Bulls junior team, will become the first American to officially participate in a Grand Prix meeting since Michael Andrettis final appearance for McLaren, back in 1993.
"This is an incredible opportunity for me, said Speed, who this year is competing in the inaugural GP2 series. Putting aside the fact that my second appearance at a grand prix will be in my homeland, it is really exciting to be driving an F1 car in front of a big crowd. I have never driven at either Montreal or Indy, so it will be a good experience for me. I don't know what to expect, but I am there to do a job, so I don't feel any extra pressure at the thought of the media interest that might come with it.
Speeds call-up follows a successful test with Red Bull, his second with the Formula One team, at Silverstone last week, which meant sporting director Christian Horner had little hesitation in confirming his Friday practice outings at Montreal and Indianapolis.
These races coincide with a gap in his GP2 schedule, explained Horner. We will be watching his progress with interest. Scott is obviously the most promising talent to come out of the USA for some considerable time. His achievements in Europe have been extremely impressive."
Speed is enjoying a strong season in GP2, lying second in the standings going into the summer break. He admitted the jump to Formula One racing was a big one, but insisted he is up to the challenge as he looks to further boost the popularity of the sport in the United States.
An F1 car is completely different to anything else I have ever driven, so the more miles I can do, the better, he said. My GP2 car is more similar to an American Champ or CART car, but I feel comfortable in the F1 car. F1 also involves a lot more technology, but I love that side of the sport. Ever since I was ten years old, I was looking at the data from my go-kart.
The technology is probably one of the main reason I was drawn to F1, apart from the fact it is clearly the pinnacle of the sport. There is so much data available, that there is always something to learn and that makes the job even more interesting.
"It is a common misconception that people in America are not interested in F1. From my experience, everyone racing in the States would love to compete in F1. But for an American, it can be an unattainable target. For a start, you have to move to Europe, which financially is almost impossible for most kids. It means you have to leave home and that requires a big sacrifice in terms of leaving your family behind.
In my case, backing from Red Bull made it possible. Without that, I would probably be on my way to Champ car. To the kids growing up in karting, to those competing in Nascar and IRL, it is obvious that F1 is the ultimate. Interest in F1 in the States is definitely growing."
Vitantonio Liuzzi will be the man to stand aside for Speeds two Friday practice outings, while Christian Klien returns to race alongside David Coulthard.