US hopeful takes next step to Formula One stardom
GP2 star Scott Speed will become a test driver for the Red Bull team next season, it was announced on Thursday. It follows successful third driver outings for the American at the Canadian and United States Grands Prix earlier this year.
According to Red Bull, Speed, who is already signed to the team as part of their junior squad, has extended his current contract, with 'performance-related options for the future'.
It was a natural decision, said Red Bull sporting director Christian Horner. Weve been impressed with what hes achieved in GP2 this year, and the pace he has shown in tests and when driving the teams third car in Canada and Indianapolis is a strong indication of his potential.
Speed commented: Obviously, Im extremely pleased that Red Bull Racing has decided to extend my contract. This season has been very good for me and to take this step forward with Red Bull Racing for next year and hopefully beyond is a great opportunity. My aim has always been to race in Formula One, its my dream and this makes it much more of a reality. Ive still got a hell of a lot to learn, but with the team around me and with David Coulthard as one of my team-mates, Im in the best place to be able to do that.
The 22-year-old Californian, currently third in the GP2 series, came into Formula One racing through Red Bulls American driver search programme. Like many other drivers, he began his career in karts. Taking his first national championship in 1995, he quickly rose through the ranks, winning a number of national titles before Red Bull selected him to contest a handful of British Formula Three events in 2003. The following year, he won the Formula Renault Championships in both Germany and Europe, before moving into GP2.
Scotts role will be very important as the team develops next year, added Horner. Hes one of the strongest drivers to come out of the USA for a long time and were pleased to be able to give him the opportunity to demonstrate his potential within Formula One.
His progression from karting championships to Formula One demonstrates the benefit of the Red Bull American Formula One drivers search. Offering support and advice, the programme is geared towards helping talented USA drivers like Scott, into Formula One and opening up opportunities that might otherwise not have been available.
Speeds new deal adds to the uncertainty over the future of Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi with the team. With David Coulthards the only confirmed race seat for next season, both the Austrian and the Italian are hoping to become his full-time team mate for 2006, after sharing the role this year.