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Formula One needs an American driver

With Formula One announcing two races in the United States over the next few seasons, the F1 spotlight has been firmly put back on the USA.

From the 2012 season, Formula One will be heading back to the States for the first time since the calendar dropped Indianapolis after the 2007 race.

At the cost of $250 million a brand new purpose built track in Austin, Texas is currently under construction and will be ready to host their first United States Grand Prix and will continue to do so until 2021.

Then from 2013, Formula One will head to New York City for the Grand Prix of America. With a 3.2-mile street circuit by the Hudson River in New Jersey, with the Manhattan skyline in the backdrop creating a truly stunning location.

But while its nice for fans of Formula One to have these new exciting tracks on the schedule, the real intention of heading to these new countries is financial.

Just as the reason behind heading to Asia for the first time in recent years and into India this weekend, Formula One has the potential to break into global markets, which is crucial for sponsors and manufacturers alike.

The Formula One brand is huge and to break into the American market has always been a target.

Having a race there is the first step and having two races there will be huge.

But for Formula One to really break into the motorsport market and compete with the likes of NASCAR and the IndyCar series, former three-time Formula One World Champion Jackie Stewart believes F1 needs an American driver.

'The thing in America is the culture is very domestic. NASCAR, IndyCar and sprint car racing are still the domestic motorsports of the US, and the country is extraordinarily domestic. They don't travel, Americans by nature, I think only 11 per cent of the nation has passport, and there are no American F1 drivers. Stewart told Autosport Magazine.

'The market is domestic, but as soon as Lance Armstrong did the Tour de France and won it, cycling was okay. When Mario [Andretti] was running, I was with ABC, that year I did 25 races, not only F1, I did a lot more because Mario Andretti was winning the world championship.

'So, it needs an American driver. That is something that we all recognise and there are good American drivers, but there is not kindergarten, primary school, secondary school not University the way there is in Europe for motorsport.'

American drivers Phil Hill and Mario Andretti are the only American drivers to ever win the Formula One World Championship. With Hill taking the title in a Ferrari in 1961 and Andretti for Lotus in 1978.

Scott Speed was the most recent American driver in Formula One, racing for Toro Rosso in 2006 and 2007 seasons, he made his last appearance at the European Grand Prix in July 2007 and now races in NASCAR.

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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday October 27 2011

Time: 1:00PM


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