Steiner explains still why no American driver: “not hungry enough”

The last US victory in Formula 1 more than 40 years ago, an astonishingly long time considering the States are motorsport mad and has a huge population – therefore a big potential to produce a large pool of talent.

Alexander Rossi is still the last US American to participate in a Formula 1 race. A previous Indy 500 winner competed in five races for Manor-Marussia in the 2015 season.


Since then, the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ has been waiting for another driver from the United States. This hasn’t changed since Haas 2016, a US team, joined Formula 1.

Haas had a US test driver in Santino Ferrucci in recent years. But he never made it to the starting grid either. In the September issue of ‘F1 Racing’, Haas team boss Günther Steiner answers readers’ questions and is asked, among other things, whether there are talented drivers in the USA who has what it takes to make it into Formula 1.

“There are, but at the moment it is difficult for American drivers to be successful in Formula 1,” explains Steiner

“There were a few [drivers] who were not interested in Formula 1 because it was better for them to stay [in the USA] and drive NASCAR. Because if you look at Alexander Rossi’s career, for example, it’s also an example warning others”

The American drove in Europe in the GP3, Formula Renault and later even became runner-up in GP2. Nevertheless, in Formula 1 there were only five starts and a few test races. He never made the breakthrough. On his return to America, he won the Indy 500 in 2016 and is now an integral part of the IndyCar series.

It is also financially more lucrative for many drivers to stay in the USA. Because in order to make it into Formula 1 in Europe, you usually have to bring a lot of money with you. “There are a lot of talents in NASCAR who could have become Formula 1 drivers. It takes a lot of work and discipline to get to Europe,” explains Steiner.


Steiner then mentions Scott Speed who drove in Formula 1 for Toro Rosso in 2006 and 2007 then was replaced by Sebastian Vettel.

“He told me that as an American he just didn’t want it enough. […] He admitted that he didn’t try hard enough,” reveals Steiner.

Speed was the first American since Michael Andretti in the 1993 season to compete in a Formula 1 race in 2006. In the past 30 years, there have been only four drivers from the United States who have competed in a premier class race: Eddie Cheever, Andretti, Speed and Rossi. Mario Andretti’s last US victory in 1978 was more than 40 years ago.

The search continues.



2 responses to “Steiner explains still why no American driver: “not hungry enough”

  1. Americans are notoriously travel shy and culturally insecure. The F1 series is notoriously European based and revolves largely around a UK-based maffia in concert with the FIA and Ferrari (too many ‘Fs’ to be healthy). With the rather excellent exception of Austin, the US and it’s various recent venues (Watkins Glen RIP) have been abominable, so the US is only interested in ovals and dragsters.
    Just think of the World Series and the SuperBowl – Americans are happy being insular.
    It would interesting to hear Alonso’s views on US racing and the US driver pool but the simple fact as Steiner correctly said is that they earn more than enough money in the US, don’t have punishing travel schedules around the world’s time zones, don’t have to gen themselves up on politics in various countries and don’t have to tun the gauntlet of meeting people like Putin at Sochi.
    Besides that, most Americans would have a nose bleed if they had to be in Suzuka, Bahrein and Baku all in the same month, and their audiences back home wouldn’t give a shit, so the whole exercise would be pointless.

    • It’s hard to cultivate the popularity of Formula 1 in USA when Bernie treated US GP with such disdain for so many decades. After the long standing GP in the Long Beach fell through, the US GP continued traveling for decades like a nomad through hilariously bad venues, like the street courses in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. None of those places was anywhere near F1 standards. Then finally in the 21st century it seemed like US GP finally found a new permanent home at Indianapolis road course, but then it all ended with Bernie asking too much money and US GP became homeless again.

      It also doesn’t help that most F1 GPs start somewhere between midnight and 9am on Sunday. In fact, I’d love to watch some of the asian races starting at midnight on Saturday, but alas, F1 turned a bunch of asian races specially into “night races” (Abu Dhabi, Singapore, and Bahrain), so the Europeans can watch them in day time, but that shifts those races into wee hours of the morning in America.

      And then people wonder, why such poor popularity of F1 in America?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.