USA Day: Five US scene drivers for F1

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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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

  1. Robert McKay
    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. 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. 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
    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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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?

  16. Said-Heads Unite!!! A fun guy to root for.

  17. Franchitti’s definitely another worthwhile pick. I’m really disappointed he missed the Indy reunification year by going to NASCAR. At the very least I hope he goes back to Indy Cars.

  18. With Kyle Busch, he is extremely aggressive and fast. This season his has an axe to grind after being dropped by Rick Hendrick for Earnhardt JNR.
    By testing with Toyota in F1, he is effectively telling the NASCAR community just how good he is, that he could drive in ‘any’ series.
    Could you imagine how embarrassing it would be for NASCAR, if this year’s champion walked off to join a F1 team for 2009? I can’t see that happening, too much pride at stake, and all ‘I’ can see is a bigger and better deal for Busch to keep him in NASCAR.
    Scott Dixon is definately worth a shout, saw him race two months ago in person. Hes quick, has the right attitude, and has plenty of experience.
    Montoya’s boat has sailed. He’ll never return to F1, which is a terrible shame for us all. The bottom line is that Juan Pablo raced for two teams that were competitive at that time, Williams and McLaren, and for whatever reason, was unable to win the championship.
    I don’t believe this was entirely down to him, or his personal performance, but that doesn’t alter the facts.
    However, it is still a terrible waste.

  19. Danica! Come on are you serious, she is the most over rated driver in open wheel history! Maybe your not familiar with the IRL, most Americans call it the DRL (Danica Racing League) she is a joke and deserves about 1/10 of the press she receives. As for Kyle Busch, I am not dumb enough to watch NASCAR, but I read an article where he was talking about his F1 “test” he was going to have and he said the racing in F1 really isn’t that good so after he tests for Honda he will wait for Ferrari or Mclaren to offer him a ride. As you Brits say what a wanker!

  20. I’ve been a Jeff Gordon fan for a long time. In my opinion, he’s the most talented driver to race in NASCAR in its history. He’s the all-time winningest driver in NASCAR on road courses and is by far the best driver on them, and had several impressive drives on them early in his career when he was inexperienced on them. He’s beaten current F1 drivers Bourdais (twice) and Piquet in the Race of Champions event, an event he very well could have won in 2005 if not for a gearbox failure at the start in his race against sports car great Tom Kristensen. He’s actually gotten a F1 offer in the past from BAR, and he had an impressive drive with Williams in the “Tradin’ Paint” event in 2003. He’s too old now, but he could certainly have been a great F1 driver, perhaps even a world champion.

    Kyle Busch is an impressive and highly talented young driver. He’s adapted to road racing very well this year, winning the Nationwide Series race in Mexico City and the race at Infineon this year. He’s probably the most talented driver to enter NASCAR since Jeff Gordon, and I would argue he’s the most talented young American driver in the world today. Furthermore, he’s proven quite versatile, racing (and winning) in everything from stock cars to sprint cars to modifieds to late-models. He’s definitely got the talent to race in F1.

    Among IndyCar drivers, Scott Dixon is by far the most deserving. He’s the best driver in the series and has had a long record of success to merit a shot at F1.

    Another IndyCar driver I think should get a look is Ryan Briscoe. He is an extremely gifted driver who has had some erratic luck and performances, but nonetheless has tons of speed. He is getting it together this year now that he finally has a quality ride at Penske, as he’s scored two wins (including an impressive trouncing of the field at Mid-Ohio.

    Some other quality IndyCar drivers include Will Power, Justin Wilson, Graham Rahal, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. The first three were quality Champ Car drivers who are stuck in Champ Car teams that made the switch and are behind the curve competitively with the dominant IndyCar teams. Hunter-Reay has done an impressive job in recent years in sports cars and got his first win at Watkins Glen this year. These are the only other drivers who I think are F1 worthy.

    Marco Andretti is a good driver, but one who is pretty overrated. He’s had good performances on road courses, but he’s been pretty easily outclassed by other drivers on them and has been pretty inconsistent.

    Danica Patrick is a horrendously overhyped driver who has done absolutely nothing to justify it. She didn’t win in a single lead-up series to IRL, and her only win in IndyCars was due to a fuel-mileage strategy. She was in the best car in the field last year with Andretti-Green, and she got her butt whooped by teammates Franchitti and Kanaan. (Not to mention Dixon, Wheldon, and Hornish, who were in inferior cars.) She’s good, but she’s at best an average IndyCar driver. There’s no way she’s even close to having the talent to race in F1.

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