Much has been made over the fact Formula One has finally “cracked” America. This weekends US GP in Austin is set to host a 2022 global sport record crowd attendance believed to be around 500,000 though the Circuit of the America’s was not always the success it is today.
Nicholas Latifi is set to leave the Williams team at the end of this season and his replacement together with the uncommitted seat at Haas F1 are still up for grabs.
F1 history ‘many’ drivers from the USA
In the modern era Formula One has been bereft of American drivers, the last being Alexander Rossi who competed just 5 events for the ill fated Manor Marrusia.
Since the inception of F1 in 1950 the number of American drivers entered in the races has not been insignificant. Though during the 1950’s the Indy500 race was part of the F1 calendar and enticed a large number of one off American drivers to compete only for that event.
At the time the drivers were allowed to drop their worts results and so this meant few of the European based teams and drivers did not compete in the Indy500. This has led to a convoluted statistic for American drivers competing in Formula One.
However, if we compare the total number of Formula One drivers to those from America who have completed 10 GP or more the picture demonstrates a paucity of US talent competing in the world’s premier racing division.
Modern F1 bereft of US drivers
From 233 F1 driver entries since 1950, there have been just 19 Americans who have competed in more than 10 or more F1 events.
Two American drivers’ have won the F1 championship with Phil Hill winning in 1961 and Mario Andretti being victorious in 1978.
Andretti was the last American driver to win an F1 race at the 1978 Dutch GP.
This weekend will see the 1076 Formula One race held over 73 seasons in 53 countries yet there have only been 15 American race winners and just 5 who have more than one F1 victory.
F1 popularity in USA brings new hope
Red Bull Racing attempted to recruit Californian IndyCar driver Colton hertz to replace the outgoing Pierre Gasly, though the American racer failed to score enough FIA super license accreditation points for the 2023 season. Nyck de Vries has since been obtained by Alfa Tauri as the team mate for Yuki Tsunoda for 2023.
Yet the hope of an American racer on the 2023 F1 grid is not yet over.
Today, Logan Sargent along with three other rookies was given an F1 drive during FP1 in COTA. He is a Williams junior programme driver development programme and is currently sitting in P3 of the F2 drivers’ championship with 1 round to go.
Sargent has been considered a front runner for the vacant Williams seat left by Latifi, though at present he does not have the FIA super license for Formula one he requires.
Williams set to announce US driver
Logan is currently P3 in the F2 drivers championship and must finish at least P6 after the final round to gain the points he needs for F1 accreditation as a driver. He is currently just 12 points clear of Liam Lawson in 7th place so is in no way guaranteed to achieve F1 suoerlicense status.
However. It would be no more fitting than at the US GP for a team to announce a new American driver to be joining the sport for next season. Williams team boss Jost Capito dropped a huge hint today that they may well be announcing Logan Sargent this weekend.
Capito was recorded at a fan Q&A in downtown Austin and when asked whether an American driver could make the F1 grid for next season, replied:
“Follow the news and you might see something on Saturday.”
Of course were Williams to announce this weekend that Logan is their driver for 2023 comes with a risk. In the carnage races that is Formula 2, were Sargeant wiped out and Lawson to win the feature race, the Williams team would look rather silly.
Logan in the box seat for Williams 2023
Capito commented on his rookies FP1 drive, “First of all, we want to see discipline from him,”
“It’s not about lap time, it’s about getting the development programme and getting the data that we need in FP1.”
“It’s all about that and he will be measured against how well he is doing this and not about lap time.”
Logan reported on his FP1 experience.
“Super reactive in the high-speed, and so good on the brakes. But yeah, in general, it was a good run. And I learned a lot.
“I was pretty shocked by how much power it had as well at the start, so something to get used to. And it was tricky out there.”
Four rookie drivers competed at the US GP FP1 session. As expected Robert Schwarzman fared the best in Charles LeClerc’s Ferrari.
Indycar title winner and McLaren driver Alex Palou was next best placed rookie, with Alfa Romeo’s Théo Pourchaire coming third a whisker ahead of Logan Sargeant in the Williams.
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