Is there an American driver for F1?


No passing through my dirty air please
The holy grail for Bernie and F1 has always been to break the USA. For Bernie it would spell money money money and for the manufactures it would spell sales sales sales. For the rest of us it would add a bit of legitimacy to the tag line of World Championship.

F1 is not without a fanbase in the US but the quest has always been to get main stream viewing figures and enough of an audience to see major investment stateside. After a few failed attempts (the biggest disaster being Indianapolis 2005!) we now appear to have a decent stable Grand Prix over the Atlantic in the heart of Texas. Once that was set up Bernie set his eye on tempting in an American team (not easy when USF1 was such a horrible mess) and with the help of Ferrari has managed to set up for the famous Haas team to be on the grid.

Haas will be propped up by Ferrari which is really the recognizable F1 name in the states. Once that step has been achieved the next phase in order to get the US to dip its toe in the water is an American driver for them to get behind. It was expected that Haas would run one and hopefully bed in some young talent. However when asked about that this week Haas has said 'there is no one out there at the moment'.

Is Haas being realistic about this or playing it too safe? If we accept the fact that he'd want to run an American driver who had experience of European racing lets see who the options are and whether they are ready:

1 - Alexander Rossi

So when it was announced that Haas would be in F1 for 2016 in partnership with Ferrari, most people looked to the likelihood that this Italian American who had been in the fringes of getting into F1 for quite a few years would be part of their driver line up. I fully believe that Rossi probably thought he would too as he signed up for another year of GP2 which is a series he looked like he was starting to be done with. His tail has most certainly been up this year, and whilst he's not managed to live with Vandoorne (who can?), he's had a great year in GP2 with some great wins. Experience wise he's had Friday running in the Caterham in F1 and was on the verge on at least 2 occasions of being In the driving seat on raceday for Manor. He's had many years in the feeder series on the European scene and whilst his form seems up and down sometimes he's always impressed enough for someone to want him in their team for the following year. Personally I'm still not sure exactly how quick Rossi is but he certainly shows flashes of brilliance and seems to be able to live with the front runners in any series he's in.

Verdict - If Rossi is not ready for F1 right now then he never will be.

2 - Conor Daly

Conor is the son of former F1 driver Derek Daly but has shown signs of having far more pace than his father ever did. He came over to Europe because that is where he wanted to make it but has suffered like many drivers from a lack of funding. He had a great year in GP3 in 2013 where he diced and kept pace with the likes Kvyat and Sainz. Even if he didn't quite get the results he wanted in the championship he landed wins and podiums. In 2014 he upgraded to GP2 but could only land a drive with back of the grid team Lazarus who he could not help rise from the ashes. Seeing him trying and drag the wheelie bin of a GP2 car up the grid was entertaining and whilst he ran high up quite often he never got the results he seemed to deserve. At the end of 2014 his funding ran out and with regret he announced his return to the States and the 2015 season has been a baron one from him. He's not without his experience Stateside though with wins in the Indylights series and impressive runs in the Indy 500. Daly would be a surprise choice if Haas went for him but he certainly has lot of experience in a lot of different forms of racing and has certainly shown he has pace.

Verdict - I don't doubt that Daly could peddle with many in F1 but he would be a gamble. Nothing ventured nothing gained though.

3 - Santino Ferrucci

Ferrucci is a 17 year old from Connecticut who comes from karting very highly rated. At one point he was associated with the Mclaren team and had funding from them (I'm not sure if that is the case anymore) and made his debut last year in European F3 as soon as he reached the required age of 16 to do so. He's continued in the F3 this season and whilst his result haven't been sensational he's always the one to watch race wise. Ferrucci is never afraid to have a go at an overtake but it had led to plenty of crashes, some of which were massively avoidable. He is out to develop though so this is probably the best place for him to do that and certainly in the last few F3 races he's showed signs he's learnt his lesson. After some failures in qualifying he's had to do some charges through the pack which have been very exciting to watch. A podium in Spa shows signs the results are coming but next year will be the clincher.

Verdict - There is no way Ferrucci is ready for F1 but he certainly has the potential to be someone who could cut it at somepoint. Haas might be wise to make him part of a development process and give him some running in testing

4 - Gustavo Menezes

Menezes has been around the European scene for a few years now and comes with backing from a rich father. When he originally landed in German F3 he grabbed a couple of wins and looked quite promising. Even when he upgraded to European F3 in 2014 he looked quite good with a few podiums and two handfuls of points finishes. 2015 has really showed his limits though with a below average year filled with huge crashes and not much else. Menezes was the surprise recipient of a test session with Team Aguri in Formula E recently but there seems to be no sign he'll be permanently involved.

Verdict - If Haas needed backing then Menezes is probably their man. If they need results he's probably not.

5 - Pietro Fittipaldi

Hang on Ras I hear you cry, Fittipaldi is Brazilain. Well yes.....and no. He was born in Miami and has never ever lived in Brazil and doesn't even speak Portuguese. He might race under a Brazilian flag for the moment but thats out of family tradition rather than anything else and can be easily changed. Is he good enough for F1? Its hard to say at the moment but he is showing sign he could be. He has run at the front end in both BRDC F4 and European F3 but has not managed to be consistent in any series. He is obviously helped out by his name (He is the Grandson of Emerson and the nephew of Christian) but obviously has skill seemed by some as he became part of the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2014. The Ferrari link once again brings us back to Haas and I'm sure he's on their radar.

Verdict - A Haas team in F1 with a driver named Fittipaldi? Its a PR dream however I don't think its ready to happen just yet.

Its an interesting list but in reality if Haas don't fancy Rossi then I'm not sure why they would plump for the other 4. I have picked the list exclusively from those European based American drivers but will admit my knowledge on the Indy Car and Indy Lights series is limited so if there is an American driver you know of who you think would be a good one to throw on the F1 grid them please let me know about them.

So what do you think? Are we likely to see the Stars and Stripes next to a drivers name anytime soon or have we got longer to wait?
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I'm sure there is an American out there somewhere - perhaps an IndyCar driver who could do a Villeneuve?

Alex Rossi prepared for his Grand Prix debut about three times last season - I'd feel sorry for him if he never makes it.

In theory, the Hispanic diaspora in America would relate pretty well to Gutierrez Perez, so that's an appropriate approach. But I think Haas should heed the lessons of Caterham - it all went pear-shaped when they ditched the quality of Kovalainen for the cash.

If they can get Perez then do it, they shouldn't settle...
As i put on haas f1 There are some good drivers in indycar. Domestic scene isnt as good as the 90's as the drivers in title have become more international with in the top 10 NZ aus columbian french & Brazilian. Especially from the dynasties if rahal & andretti then theres hunter reay indy car champion but at 26 28 & 34 respectively the ship has probally sailed for them . But josep newgarden who is a young prospect
Sadly, the verdict is in on this one and it is a resounding "NO"

For any number of reasons American drivers have become all but extinct from FIA rostrums. It's almost impossible to believe but the last time an American took the top step at an FIA event it was during the 1979 Britush F1 Season at the Bradford & Bingley Trophy race at Silverstone. The winner? Gordon Smiley of course.

Rossi is fast enough to collect points in F1, but he's got a bunch of stuff going against him, not the least of which is his 6' 4" frame.
You're missing one driver - Marco Andretti - I know he's getting on a bit t 28 years old but he does have a famous name and its Italian American which would suit both Ferrari and Haas
soccerman17 Well the other week he was saying he still hopes to do F1. So i) He needs to get his act together ii) Get his Dad or Grandad to speak to Bernie who will no doubt push for a famous name to be in F1
Yes Rossi has had the I'm def in thing before.

This is all very handy for Haas as now they'll have an American driver who isn't a rookie to look at.

Whoever is backing Alexander Rossi is really trying to jump through those haas hoops. Lets hope its not all in vain.

Article does seem timely now doesn't it?
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Graham Rahal has enjoyed a career resurgence in 2015, and Ryan Hunter-Reay would be worth a test. Neither of them have anything to do with their time for the rest of the year, either, thanks to Indycar's eccentric scheduling.
Is it conceivable that Haas is interested in Rossi but wanted to see a little more of him in a Formula 1 car so Ferrari pulled some Manor/Marussia strings and put him in a car?
It is possible but Rossi doesn't have any Ferrari connections so it would be a move out of nowhere. I wouldn't be surprised though.

However Rossi is currently part of the Racing Engineering GP2 team and the team mate of Jordan King who of course is the son of Andy King. It will be Andy King's money that us funding his son and the team so I wonder if Rossi's backers haven't done a deal with King through that route.

If the Grosjean Haas rumour is correct then I don't think Rossi will have any luck there. He could impress at Manor enough to keep that seat though. I really can't predict the way that line up is going to go though with Merc now in the mix.
The talk coming out of the Manor camp is that Rossi will be signed for 2016. It appears it may have helped them swing some sponsorship from the U.S.

So it looks like my question has been answered. Yes there is an American driver for F1.........but he'll probably run at the back and needs to bring some cash ;)
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