Youth and experience: the leading candidates for USF1’s seats in 2010

Ryan Hunter-Reay is one of the American drivers being considered for a USF1 seat

Ryan Hunter-Reay is one of the American drivers being considered for a USF1 seat

USF1 is considering some very different drivers for its inaugural F1 season next year.

The team has indicated it is looking at a mix of young American drivers (Jonathan Summerton, Graham Rahal or Ryan Hunter-Reay) alongside a more experienced F1 driver from Europe (Pedro de la Rosa or Alexander Wurz).

Who will they pick? Here’s a look at the contenders and their credentials.

Experience

Pedro de la Rosa

McLaren’s test driver Pedro de la Rosa has said in the past he would like to return to racing, having last competed in F1 in 2006 as a substitute for Juan Pablo Montoya. He scored his only F1 podium in the Hungarian Grand Prix that year.

De la Rosa made his F1 debut with Arrows in 1999, and later drove for Jaguar before joining McLaren’s test team. He tested a Force India last winter (pictures here) as the team entered a technical collaboration with McLaren.

De la Rosa has also been tipped as a candidate for one of the seats at new Spanish team Campos Meta 1.

Alexander Wurz

Like de la Rosa, Wurz has excellent credentials as a test driver and spent several years at McLaren. On his sole appearance for the team as a race driver, at Imola in 2005, he scored a podium (inherited after Jenson Button’s disqualification).

That confirmed in the minds of many thr belief Wurz’s promise had been squandered by Benetton during his tenure with the team from 1997-2000. But his return to racing for Williams in 2007 didn’t deliver the widely-expected results, apart from a third place at Montreal. He quit one race before the end of the season.

At the time of his retirement in 2007 he said he felt the time was right and talked about not wanting to quit before he passed his peak (see the video here). Perhaps a few years away have rekindled the flames.

Wurz had previously been considering an entry of his own, but has revealed the Superfund-backed effort will not be on the grid next year. He is currently Brawn’s test driver.

Youth

Jonathan Summerton

Summerton, 21, raced in Europe from 2005-2007 before money problems forced him to return to America. He began 2009 in Indy Lights and was fifth in the standings after six races but had to step down once again due to shortage of funds.

However he has also been competing in the Atlantics championship where he lies third overall with two wins.

Read more: Jonathan Summerton: F1?s next US star?

Graham Rahal

Rahal, 20, is the son of ex-F1 and Champ Car driver Bobby Rahal. He raced in the final Champ Car series in 2007, and is now in IndyCars.

He won once at St Petersburg last year and a consistent finishing record this year has helped him to eighth in the standings in America’s top single seater championship. But it’s proving increasingly difficult for drivers to make the transition to F1 from Indy Cars.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Not quite a match on the ‘youth’ front as Summerton and Rahal, the 28 year-old Hunter-Reay has done a lot of racing at Champ Car/Indy Car level since 2003.

He scored a surprise win at Watkins Glen last year, emphasising his road course credentials which make him one of the more promising American prospects not to have a European racing background. He was fourth at Mid-Ohio road course last weekend.

Who do you think USF1 should put in their cars? Have your say in the comments.

More on the 2010 F1 drivers and teams

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86 comments on Youth and experience: the leading candidates for USF1’s seats in 2010

  1. ajokay said on 12th August 2009, 10:16

    From those on the list, I’d like to see Alex Wurz in one car, as he’s always been a favourite of mine. I like his style, he was never afraid of a wheel-to-wheel battle. I seem to remember him dicing with Schumacher at a Monaco race in the late 90’s. He also throws up the devil horns whenever he’s on the podium. Rock on! Plus i share my first name with him, so, Go Alex!

    Plus Pedro has a shot at the Campos seat, so we could see both of them in F1 next year that way.

    Of the other 3, I think it would be most sensible for USF1 to give the 2nd seat to Ryan Hunter-Reay. Never heard of him, but he seems to have the most experience, which would be far more beneficial.

    With regards to Jonathan Summerton, surely if he was that good, he wouldn’t keep running out of sponsorship money.

    • Gman said on 13th August 2009, 2:52

      With SUmmerton, it happens to the best of drivers in all racing series. SOmetimes it’s related to financial decisions with the sponsors themselves and not anything to do with the skills of the drivers.

  2. yeang said on 12th August 2009, 10:50

    just a random thought – if marco andretti were to get the drive, he’d be the first grandson of an ex-champion to race in f1 wouldn’t he?

  3. Ronman said on 12th August 2009, 10:57

    I think Wurz or Bourdais for Experience,

    Graham RAhal is a good name for no experience, or if they want to stretch the American idea Brunno Senna or any other south american with racing credentials could do the job

  4. Me :)

    • Adrian said on 12th August 2009, 11:56

      Well by that same token…

      Me!!

      Though I’m neither American or experienced so that might hurt my chances…

  5. Glenn said on 12th August 2009, 11:55

    For the “American Youth” seat, keep Alexander Rossi in mind – 2008 Formula BMW World Champion

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th August 2009, 20:21

      Rossi’s definitely one for the future, give him a couple of years – F3 and GP2 ideally. Looking pretty good in Formula Master this year.

    • Alexander Rossi and Scott Speed would be the best lineup. Scott has the experience and Rossi has the potential. The other river that might make sense – although he’s sunken into the NASCAR Morass is AJ Almendinger.

      As much as I’d like to see Rahal, Hunter-Reay, or even Townsend Bell, I just don’t think they can step up to the level needed fast enough.

  6. I don’t think Rahal would make the jump just yet so my choices would be:
    Experienced Driver
    1) Montoya
    2) Bourdais
    Young Driver
    1) Ryan Hunter-Reay
    2) AJ Allmendinger

  7. Chalky said on 12th August 2009, 13:03

    I would say Pedro de la Rosa unless he ends up at Campos?
    Then Ryan Hunter-Reay.

    If you can’t get de la Rosa then probably Wurz.

  8. Like A Cow's Opinion: It's Moo said on 12th August 2009, 13:46

    What’s Justin Wilson up to these days?

    Would he consider returning to F1 or is he doing too well for it to be worth his while?

  9. Prisoner Monkeys said on 12th August 2009, 14:07

    I’m thinking maybe Wurz and Summerton. Adrian Campos seems to be gunning for Pedro de la Rosa, and I think de la Rosa would like the idea of being a Spanish driver in a Spanish team. For Summerton, the Formula Atlantic series is run entirely on road courses, unlike IndyCar, which I think gives him more credibility than Rahal (who isn’t much of a team leader, and it’s clear USF1 would be grooming their rookie driver to one day lead the team) and Hunter-Reay (who seems too old to be making his debut).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th August 2009, 20:22

      I seem to remember Peter Windsor writing praiseworthy things about Wurz in his F1 Racing columns.

      • Prisoner Monkeys said on 13th August 2009, 0:38

        It’s better than some of the ridiculous suggestions I’ve heard elsewhere on the internet. People think a Scott Speed-Sebastien Bourdais lineup is a real possibility; I say that’ll happen only if Windsor and Anderson are masochistic. Who in their right mind would put two of the most underperforming – and difficult to deal with – drivers in perfectly good race seats?

  10. Dr Jones said on 12th August 2009, 14:28

    Bring back Scott Speed! :)

  11. Lauro said on 12th August 2009, 14:32

    What about Will Power? He did a few good runs in road courses this year in IRL.

  12. nelson db said on 12th August 2009, 14:32

    Many of these youngster could have some problem in term of FIA super-licence..
    I really don’t think Montoya would come back in f1, except in a top team and this won’t be the case.
    Usf1 is still a mystery, maybe they’ve found you tube’s money but the staff in every order is inadequate.. they absolutely need an experieced driver, and with de la rosa probably with campos the only one interested seems wurz. but i think they’ll be competing only with manor and campos next year..

  13. Brian said on 12th August 2009, 15:47

    Remember something. BMW is gone next year which means that one of their “experienced” drivers has to go somewhere.
    If USF1 can, then the will get someone that is already in F1 to be their “experienced” driver.
    Kovi is probably done at McLaren.
    RAI is leaving Ferrari(of course USF1 would have to convince him to stay in F1)
    Kubica will probably go to McLaren
    Heidfeld or Kovi will end being USF1’s “experienced” driver.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th August 2009, 20:22

      That’s a very good point – either driver would be a great pick.

    • Wesley said on 13th August 2009, 0:53

      To see Heidfeld go to USF1 would be my wish.

      I think Rosberg and Kovi will end up switching seats.

    • Gman said on 13th August 2009, 2:57

      As a McLaren fan who is also behind USF1, I would love to see Heikki keep his seat but I doubt it. In that case, seeing he or Heidfeld at USF1 would be great.And Kubica at McLaren would be fantastic, absolutley fantastic!!

      But the best one you’ve got there is Raikkonen at USF1….hilarious to think about, but Anderson/Windsor would never do it.

  14. JPM likes be home when his kids arrive from school. He ain’t coming back. But I too would like another F1 driver who isn’t some boring corporate spokesmodel. That guy may be Speed. I think he did OK vis a vis Luizzi. He was OK in GP2. He is the only American who knows the circuits, the people, and who we know can hack the lifestyle.

    Forget about Marco A., Patrick, Hunter-Reay, etc. Beating a bunch of guys a couple times on road course who came up racing “midgets” on ovals is not a good credential. Marco would sell tickets to a U.S. GP like crazy, but he would not be stellar.

    I favor pairing Speed with De La Rosa or Wurz. i.e., someone who can develop the car and who doesn’t have an epic ego. And we know De La Rosa, for example, knows something about tire-gasses and floors.

    • Wesley said on 13th August 2009, 0:58

      “And we know De La Rosa, for example,knows something about tire-gasses and floors.”

      LOL!

    • The only driver in IRL that came trough racing midgets is Ed Carpenter. Of the 5 full-time american drivers in the series I’d say both Marco and Hunter-Reay drives better in road courses than ovals and Graham is even (and that’s more because he does some very stupid GP2-like mistakes). Actually the worst drop in performance from ovals to road courses there is probably british Dan Wheldon who should be poster boy on how too much oval racing makes one unlearn how to turn right.

    • Gman said on 13th August 2009, 3:01

      I think you’re a bit off on Speed being the only guy suited to the F1 circus- SUmmerton raced in Europe for several years, including F3 Euroseries in 2006 alongside many of the young stars either in F1 or primed for a seat. After that he was in A1GP and did races at Sepang and Shanghai- the latter is his favorite track outside the USA, don’t ask why……

      Finally, his years in Formula BMW Americas put him at Montreal, Indianapolis, and Mexico City, among others. SO he’s probably coming in with more international experience than the average F1 rookie.

  15. Montoya would be great. He’s American , South American :). Quite a few younger talents in the Stars of Karting. That would be a surprise.

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