Marco Andretti (Meet the rookies)

Marco Andretti, IRL, Kentucky, 2007 | Dana GarrettWith a surname like Andretti, how can he fail? This kid’s got to end up in F1 sooner or later.

Whether he’ll sink like father Michael, or swim to the title like grandfather Mario, is the big, big question.

It’s big, because it could also be the key to unlocking F1 popularity in the States.

After Mario’s family emigrated to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, the family stayed there and that’s where Marco was born in March 1987 – six year before Michel’s ill-fated F1 debut with McLaren.

F1 fans invariably bring up Michael Andretti’s F1 career when looking for an example of an American racer who failed in F1. That rather oversimplifies things, as Michael could have made a better fist of his F1 career had he been more realistic about it and chose to base himself closer to McLaren, rather than stay in the States.

And of course it ignores the record of Mario, an extremely versatile and accomplished racer who won a hell of a lot more than just the 1978 world championship.

Marco began his career in the Barber Formula Dodge Eastern Championship in 2003, winning eight times. He was Barber National and Southern champion the following year.

In 2005 he raced in the Star Mazda championship and Indy Pro Series. He was fifth in Star Mazda but it was the six races in junior Indy Car category where he made his mark – winning three times and setting three pole positions.

With that he moved up to the Indy Car Series in 2006 with his father’s team, Andretti-Green, aged 19. He came within a lap of winning the Indianapolis 500, finishing second behind Sam Hornish Jnr. He won at Sears Point and ended the season seventh in the championship, beating team mates Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta, and being named rookie of the year.

He tested for the Honda F1 team in December and again in February but stayed in Indy Cars – which, of course, is supplied exclusively by Honda. However 2007 has not been kind to him. He suffered major crashes at Indianapolis and Mid Ohio, and is yet to repeat the win he scored in his maiden season.

The young Andretti could be the driver that switches on a generation of Americans to F1. But a season of GP2 on the F1 tracks might give him a better preparation for the top flight than the Indy Racing League.

Photo: Dana Garrett

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16 comments on Marco Andretti (Meet the rookies)

  1. SoLiD said on 15th August 2007, 17:50

    He would do better than his father.
    Michael tought he could do it… but that 93 Mclaren wasn’t a good car…what Senna did with that car was absolutly incredible… nothing a new guy can pull off :)
    I doubt if any other driver could have won a single race in that car.
    But I never felt that great about Michael…Mario is a great driver, but I didn’t feel Michael was that good as his father… Marco on the other hand looks like a promising young guy, with some more experience he could make it here.
    But I’ll have to work real hard to proof himself.

  2. Vertigo said on 15th August 2007, 18:17

    Marco Andretti does not have a hope in F1. In pre season testing with Honda, he was rock bottom, behind even Sato and Liuzzi. So many sons of champions have come throguh and done badly, there should be a blanket ban on anyone called “Brabham” and “Andretti”, to save embarassment.

  3. getting your F1 experience in the Indy Racing League is the equivalent of getting F1 experience by driving a NASCAR stock car.

    IRL takes zero talent, zero ability. Most of the tracks they race at require ZERO braking. They literally never have to lift off the gas. Never have to touch the brakes.

  4. BogarTRuleS said on 16th August 2007, 10:58

    OH HELL YES, It is about time i have seen him race he is amazing. Well lets hope he makes the others in the states besides myself open up to F1 but it is both ways the states do not see F1 as very friendly to it at all. and SAM your wrong on the IRL i was at the Ky Speedway IRL race and it was a bloody good race. It takes loads of talent and nerves of steel if you have not been to a race and i dont mean watch the bloody thing on tv i mean get off your couch and go to a race you will see battles for position, Pit strageties, and driver talent on par with any other racing series. It is of course my humble opinion. I love F1 but indy car is a close second GO TONY KANAAN. you havnt been to a race or you would not have typed what you typed. You go 220 mpg and see if it takes no skill. LOL I think Marco could do well if he gets with the program. and gets a good team. NOT HONDA

  5. Dan M said on 16th August 2007, 15:32

    “Marco Andretti does not have a hope in F1. In pre season testing with Honda, he was rock bottom, behind even Sato and Liuzzi.”

    Remember he was driving a Honda, these guys beat Rubins last week.

    But yes, Indy has no talent and he is nothing special, if he even wants a chance he is going to need to get into a better league… At which point he would get his ass handed to him. Champ Car is 100 times better, I watched the Indy race this past weekend, they didn’t break the whole time…. Literally, Franchitti drove into the back of a competitor after the race ended because the guy had started to slow down for a cool off lap and Dario thought there was one more lap! Who doesn’t know when the race is over!

  6. Vertigo said on 17th August 2007, 10:42

    I know that this year’s Honda is awful, but in the same test, James Rossiter set the 4th fastest time in a Honda, only beaten by Hamilton and the two Renaults, so Andretti is still not all that.

  7. Number 38 said on 17th August 2007, 16:01

    Rarely would I post ANYTHING contrary to anothers response but “sam” (post 3, above) hasn’t got a clue about talent or ability. I’ve driven the high speed ovals and there’s more than talent and ability involved……the word courage comes to mind. 200mph and a foot from the wall on a road 1/2 the width of an F1 circuit.
    And where does he get the idea brakes aren’t involved……even NASCAR oval cars can get their steel rotors glowing red! ‘sam’ needs a few laps in his logbook before he berates others.
    Concerning Marco Andretti…..
    F1 is being inundated with teenage wannabees……Andretti deserves a chance as much as any other.

  8. Neon18 said on 12th January 2008, 17:59

    Marco Andretti is the golden boy of his family. Imagine having to support AGR, your Mom, Your sister and all the pressure to please Grandpa. We should all pray that MArco doesn’t kill himself before he gets to F1. F! is for the European cream of the crop drivers. Michael has alot invested in his son and MArco has a huge burden to bear, he barely graduated from high school when his best friend killed himself and another young girl street-racing in Central Florida. Marco wasn’t even allowed to acknowledge the dangers of racing.Perhaps MArco shoud be allowed to spend some time with Lewis Hamilton, if his Dad let’s him. F1 is for pro’s only,it’s too bad that MArco isn’t allowed to have his own air to breath.

  9. Neon18 said on 11th February 2008, 17:02

    My comments should not be seen as insulting because I would love to have spoken them face to face, but never would expect the opportunity. I wanted to take the time to acknowledge Lewis Hamilton and his efforts to make a role model of himself, a fine young man with alot of talent. Perhaps Lewis could spend some time with character building at IRL. Maybe they should do more IRL races abroad and let the EU teenagers feel the impact. Maybe Max Moseley will pay attention, there are no life guards at the pool!

  10. FYI, when Marco tested in February 2007, he was the ONLY DRIVER in a 2006 chassis; every other driver in the test was driving their 2007 chassis.В  At the end of that test, Jenson Button got in the 2006 chassis and turned basically the same times as Marco.

  11. So my point is, you can’t compare his times with Rossiter, Sato, Liuzzi, etc.В  He was in the 2006 car.

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