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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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