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Speed brings America in from the cold 11 Mar 2006

Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 10 March 2006

When your name is Speed, you are perhaps destined to become a racer. Becoming a Formula One driver is the ultimate fulfilment of that destiny. After 13 years without a US driver on the grid, the expectation’s of the world’s most car-obsessed nation rest on Scott Speed’s shoulders. Some may buckle under the burden, but the Californian seems laidback, focussed only on his performance on the track. We caught up with him in the Bahrain paddock.

Q: Fresh out of the car after your first official practice session as a fully-fledged Formula One driver can you explain your mood. What’s your mind set right now?
Scott Speed:
I am very excited. I was driving some F1 Friday practice sessions last year but when I got out of the car this was the end of my racing for the weekend. But coming out now knowing that tomorrow I will be back in the car is fantastic. It means less nerves for me now with the security in the job. My internal program is to keep my head down and keep focused and hopefully it will be a good first race weekend for me.

Q: You are the great hope for many to raise the profile of Formula One racing in the USA. Do you feel a specific responsibility?
SS:
I don’t think that it is due to a single person - moreover a person that is at the very beginning of his career - that Formula One will be more popular in the US so I don’t feel a specific burden. But sure I want to do everything possible to make my countrymen understand the excitement that lies in this sport - an excitement that got me hooked.

Q: There has been a lot of media speculation over a Grand Prix in Las Vegas. Knowing the current status of Formula One racing’s popularity in the USA, do you think that a race there instead of Indianapolis would be a bigger event?
SS:
To draw a comparison between Las Vegas and Indianapolis is the same as to compare Monaco with Spa. I could imagine that the special atmosphere of Las Vegas could have a positive impact on F1’s popularity in the US.

Q: Obviously one of your biggest challenges this year will be your team mate Tonio Liuzzi. How do you feel about that and how do you two get along?
SS:
Sure it is always your team mate who is the first challenge and as Tonio has more F1 experience than myself it will be interesting to see what the season will teach me. But as we both are coming from the Red Bull young driver program we know each other for quite some time and get along very well. Friends I don’t know, but we talk very often.

Q: Your career so far has progressed under the systematic tutelage of Red Bull’s US talent search programme. Do you think that without this you would be in Formula One racing now?
SS:
Plain answer: no I wouldn’t. It was a fantastic experience to be allowed to grow and being given time to develop one’s own potential. I would imagine that this could also work in Russia, China or India to install a basis where talents could reach out for Formula One. But naturally it would only be a success with the seriousness of a Red Bull concept behind.

Q: Being a Formula One driver is a total different story than racing in any other series. What’s your life now? What has changed?
SS
: From the racing side not much has changed because I had to be focused otherwise I wouldn’t have a drive. What has changed is the much bigger interest of the media - to suddenly be a public person. And that I have moved to Fuschl in Austria where Red Bull’s headquarters is.