USA Day: Five US scene drivers for F1

USA Day: Scott Dixon, Indianapolis 500, 2008, 470150

There’s no United States Grand Prix this year so it’s USA Day at F1 Fanatic with a series of America-themed articles.

Which drivers in the American racing scene whould head over to Formula 1? Here are five of the drivers I’d like to see make the switch from NASCAR and Indy Car.

Scott Dixon

New Zealand’s Scott Dixon has an excellent pedigree in Indy Car Racing. He won the Indianapolis 500 this year (above) and is leading the re-united series convincingly.

Dixon came heart-brakingly close to winning the title last year, only to run out of fuel on the last lap of the season.

Kyle Busch

American NASCAR star Kyle Busch, 23, is expected to do a make an appearance in a Toyota F1 car in Japan at the end of the season. Busch drives a Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and leads the championship with four wins at the time of writing.

We’ve seen former F1 cars turn to NASCAR in recent years but I think it would be fasincating to see how a driver who’s spent his career racing almost entirely on ovals would cope with Formula 1. And having one of NASCAR’s top drivers do it would be a huge publicity boost for F1 in America.

Marco Andretti

You can take your pick of the PR-friendly drivers in Indy Car who could make the jump to F1: Graham Rahal, son of three times CART champion Bobby Rahal; Or Danica Patrick, possibly the only professional racing driver who could generate more hype by arriving in F1 than Lewis Hamilton did.

But Andretti, the third generation of the dynasty beginning with 1978 F1 champion Mario, is probably the best bet. He may have looked rough around the edges in recent races, but he showed tons of skill on his debut in the series in 2006 – particularly when he led commandingly at a damp Watkins Glen before being taken out by Eddie Cheever.

AJ Allmendinger

I was hugely disappointed to see Allmendinger switch from Champ Car to NASCAR in 2006. At the time he had won several road course races on the series and looked like one of American’s most promising open wheel racers.

His NASCAR career to date has not been much to write about. I’d like to see him back in a single seater, maybe even an F1 car.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Yeah, I’m still banging the drum for Montoya. He’s wasted in NASCAR, and I think he’d be right at home in the 2009 spec low-downforce F1 cars.

Read more: 10 of the best… American F1 drivers

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20 comments on USA Day: Five US scene drivers for F1

  1. Robert McKay said on 15th June 2008, 11:05

    If you’re picking Dixon, I’ll plump for Franchitti. Can’t remember if he got an F1 test, though I’m sure he must have at some point. He should be in single-seaters, I think he’s wasted in NASCAR…

  2. frecon said on 15th June 2008, 15:37

    Montoya coming back to F1 would be great.

    The bus stop pass is one of the best moves in the lasts years.

  3. I’d love to see JPM return to F1. McLaren definitely wasn’t the right environment for him and it was always going to be difficult to shine alongside Raikkonen. I’m convinced with the right team and less trips to Burger King he’d be a championship contender.

    Marco Andretti heading to F1 seems to be just a matter of time. Danica too hopefully, a potential marketing dream for any F1 team.

    I’d also like to see some US-based teams have a go at F1, such as Chip Ganassi or Andretti Green, but I guess there’s no sense in giving up a leading position in IndyCar for a midfield/back of the grid position in Formula 1.

  4. Wesley said on 15th June 2008, 17:23

    Thanks for remembering us GP deprived Yanks on this weekend Keith!

    I am still with you on Montoya coming back,I miss his gutsy and aggressive driving style….and as you said,the low downforce cars would give him a chance to remind everyone how overtaking is done.

    …and I am pulling for Marco too.It is time to see the Andretti name on the F1 grid again.

  5. Although somewhat long in the tooth, I thing Jeff Gordon would do well in F1. Forget Danica or Marco, one’s a product of a famous name the other a self promoting sex object. My fondest wish would have been for Danica to confront Ryan Briscoe in his pit box after their Indy 500 accident and Ryan knock her on her butt.

    Yeah, can you guess, I’m not a Danica fan!

  6. Lady Snowcat said on 15th June 2008, 18:30

    Montoya…now there’s a guy…

    When he was good he was very, very good…

    But then when he was bad….

    Not only was he bad… but he was petulant and did all he could to mess up his team mate…


    When he was bad he was truly horrid…

    Are there any guys from the other side of the pond who have any experience in European races at present?…

  7. Rob R. said on 15th June 2008, 18:36

    I’d also like to see Montoya come back at some point. But myself, and I think a lot more people feel this way, we’re not going to believe in a low-downforce F1, with more emphasis on driver skill until we see it. If it does happen though, I agree he’d be right at home in the 2009 F1 cars. And I’d also like to see him back simply because it’s good to have more drivers in F1 from outside of Europe.

  8. winterbear said on 15th June 2008, 19:48

    Neither Kyle Busch nor any other Nascar driver has shown any kind of driving skill on road courses. They do two races a year and wallow around like Hippo’s in a water flume ride… None of them take it seriously…

    If one of them spent a few years driving real cars in more than circles in a feeder series so they could gain some skills, then perhaps they could be considered one day for f1…. but so far none of them are good enough to make the jump.

  9. Steven Roy said on 15th June 2008, 20:15

    Montoya is history. He won’t come back. He is one of these drivers who in the 70s would have been really good but was always going to struggle with everything involved in modern F1.

    I think Marco Andretti is probably the next one to make the move if only because Mario is convinced his grandson has what it takes in F1 and Mario is a fair judge. Who knows how he will perform when he can get a car designed round him.

    I am sure Franchitti won the McLaren young driver award and he was a Merc driver in the DTM so he must have tried a McLaren at some time but I can’t remember it. A McLaren test drive is part of the young driver award prize.

  10. verasaki said on 15th June 2008, 20:28

    jpm-you astound me, but yeah, these cars would suit him. the thing is, what little i’ve seen of him lately, i’d say he looks and sounds happy where he is. wierd when you think about it, actually.

    i think i may have to wait several years before there’s anyone i’d like to see cross the pond…and why does someone have to make a name in one of the headline american series before shifting to f1? there are a few feeder series over here that could be probably be raided and hamilton has proven what an early interest in a man/woman’s career can do when talent is mated to mentoring and opportunity.

  11. Daniel said on 16th June 2008, 0:33

    I would like to see Helio Castroneves or Tony Kanaan have their chances in Formula 1… Kanaan is a former IRL champion (2004) and Castroneves is a two-time Indy 500 winner, and is currently running second in IndyCar, behind Dixon… yeah, both of them need to recover their winning form (none of them stepped on the top of the podium this year), but I think they’re good enough to make it, even though they’re too old(both of them are 33) to have any realistic chance to succeed in F1.

  12. Gman said on 16th June 2008, 0:48

    Kyle Busch is an interesting driver- he’s at a young age with much of his career in front of him, and dose appear to have some real skills. How he would do driving an F1 car on road courses is open to debate, but perhaps he would pick it up quickly. He’s a little bit bold and PR-hungry, so I coulden’t see him ever in an outfit like McLaren, but perhaps he could be a great boost for Toyota or a team like Red Bull.

    Staying in NASCAR, I doubt JPM will ever come back. He and Scott Speed seem to have the same issue- they enjoy the more relaxed and less-stressful lifestyle associated with NASCAR life and seem to be completely happy where they are.

    Andretti has some talent and obviously gets instant name recognition- he’s also young and has said he wants a crack at F1. However, he’s also made public statements recently claiming that McLaren gave his father faulty cars and substandard equipment when he drove for McLaren alongside Senna- I don’t know what a potential F1 team would think about him after that.

  13. I’d love to see JPM back, but I think that is nothing but a pipe dream. He works well with Chip Ganassi, and I think that he is likely to stay where he feels comfortable.

    One driver who *almost* made it to F1 and I feel deserves another chance would be Ryan Briscoe.

  14. Steve K said on 16th June 2008, 4:15

    Kyle Busch the Mexico City Nationwide race this year was one of the more impressive feats I have seen in Nascar this year. The guy had never driven the course before and admittedly spent no time preparing for the race. The guy could drive and win in anything.

    While Allmendinger isnt winning in Nascar, the past month he has seen a huge improvement personally as well as his teammate Brian Vickers. Red Bull in Nascar is on the upswing. Look for Scott Speed to join the team in a third car by the end of the year.

  15. Castroneves is right on the fine and dangerous line, but I think Kanaan is too old to get an F1 test.

    A.J. Allmendinger said that stock cars were his aspiration, so despite his underperformance there, it is probably where he will stay.

    Marco hasn’t provided the maturity it would take to survive very long in F1, but then again, there are moments when Lewis Hamilton’s maturity shows lapse as well.

    Graham Rahal is less experienced, but has spent less time being micromanaged by his family; Bobby Rahal says he didn’t encourage Graham into racing at all, evidenced by Graham’s employment on Paul Newman’s team instead of his father’s.

    Scott Dixon is good, but if I understand right, it would take a lot of money to coerce him to leave Ganassi’s team; I am under the impression that both Dixon and teammate Dan Wheldon have the longest and most expensive contracts in the sport.

    I think it’s important to note though, that the race on an oval is nothing like the race on a road or street circuit, to a point that perhaps it should be thought of as a separate motorsport. A part of me really hopes that Indy will award minor championships for performance on only the ovals that year and only the road courses.

    I think he’s got age against him, but what about Boris Said?

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