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Scott Speed

Born in Manteca, California in 1983, Speed quickly caught the driving bug from father Mike, himself a keen racer. Scott began competing in karts from the age of 10, winning his first national title just two years later. Between 1996 and 2001 he would win another six in various classes, before making the switch to single-seaters, triumphing in the Jim Russell Racing championship at his first attempt.

From there it was into the Skip Barber National Championship for 2002, with Speed also competing in selected Formula Mazda races. He didn’t win either series, but he did grab the attention of talent scouts from Red Bull’s US Driver Search Programme. He was duly selected for that year’s shootout against a host of young American hopefuls and came away with the prize - backing to contest selected rounds of the 2003 British Formula Three championship with Alan Docking Racing.

Unfortunately Speed was unable to make the most of the opportunity. Early in 2003 he was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic stomach condition that causes internal bleeding, a loss of nutrients - and bowel control. Fighting the illness whilst racing proved too much for the Californian, who was forced to return home for treatment. He made it back into the cockpit for 2004, remarkably winning both the German and European Formula Renault titles, but all the time his health was deteriorating. In fact, he was told he was so anaemic that he needed a blood transfusion and that major surgery - which would have ended his Formula One hopes - was his only long-term option.

Speed’s last chance was an experimental treatment suggested by his Austrian doctor and, mercifully, just a month after starting the new medication he was on the road to recovery. The bleeding had stopped and he no longer had to worry about making it through a race without a toilet break - his career was back on track. To prove the point, he clinched third place in the 2005 GP2 championship, scoring five podiums, five fastest laps and a pole position along the way. His Red Bull backing also brought him his first Formula One test with Red Bull Racing, as well as Friday practice outings for the team at his home Grand Prix at Indianapolis and at the Canadian round in Montreal.

With Red Bull management suitably impressed, Speed was called up to partner Vitantonio Liuzzi at their newly-acquired second team, Toro Rosso. He quickly proved capable of challenging the lauded Italian and looked to have scored the squad’s maiden point with eighth place at round three in Australia. However, he later lost the place for ignoring yellow flags, as well as picking up a hefty fine for some rather colourful language in the related post-race hearing. It was not the ideal way to be making his first Formula One headlines and led many to question whether he had the attitude necessary to succeed against the world’s most focussed drivers.

Indeed, even Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger publicly questioned his driver’s commitment, as the Austrian left it unusually late to confirm Speed’s retention for 2007. But retained he was, giving him another chance to prove he is more than ‘the token American’ and to perhaps score that elusive first championship point - this time for keeps.

Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 7 April 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 13 April 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 6 April 2007
01 Lewis Hamilton 70
02 Fernando Alonso 68
03 Felipe Massa 59
04 Kimi Räikkönen 52
05 Nick Heidfeld 36
06 Robert Kubica 24
07 Giancarlo Fisichella 17
08 Heikki Kovalainen 15
09 Alexander Wurz 13
10 Mark Webber 8
10= David Coulthard 8
12 Jarno Trulli 7
13 Nico Rosberg 5
14 Takuma Sato 4
15 Ralf Schumacher 2
16 Jenson Button 1
16= Sebastian Vettel 1
18 Rubens Barrichello 0
18= Scott Speed 0
18= Anthony Davidson 0
18= Adrian Sutil 0
18= Christijan Albers 0
18= Vitantonio Liuzzi 0
18= Markus Winkelhock 0