Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

F1 needs an ‘American Max Verstappen’ to capture US interest – Horner

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In the round-up: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner expects Logan Sargeant prospects for success are too “limited” to have real impact on the sport’s popularity in the USA.

In brief

‘Imagine if there was an American Max Verstappen’ – Horner

Horner expressed doubt over how great an impact Sargeant will have at Williams, the team which finished last in the 2022 championship. “It’s great to have him there and he’s a talented young guy [but] he’s going to be limited in what he can do,” he told the New York Post.

The Red Bull team boss says America needs a driver in a competitive car to raise the sport’s popularity in the same way Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez did in their home countries. “The problem is, if you’re finishing 14th or 15th it doesn’t really turn people on,” he explained.

“I think if he was fighting at the front in a competitive car, then you’d see [something like] what happened with Fernando in Spain, or Checo [Perez] and the reaction in Mexico.”

“Imagine if there was an American Max Verstappen,” he added. “What we need is a young, talented, competitive American driver.”

Aston Martin AMR23 to run today

The new Aston Martin AMR23 will be seen on track for the first time later today as Aston Martin crosses the road from its factory to shake down its 2023 F1 contender at Silverstone. Rivals Mercedes will also run at the track as they launch their new W14.

Lance Stroll and new team mate Alonso are expected to drive the Aston Martin, and the team will become the eighth to get their 2023 car on track. They will be the fifth to do a shakedown at Silverstone, with the two Italian teams having tested at local tracks and the Switzerland-based Alfa Romeo having travelled to Barcelona to debut their car.

Shwartzman to drive in two practice sessions in 2023

Ferrari’s new reserve driver Robert Shwartzman revealed at Ferrari’s SF-23 launch he will drive in two Formula 1 practice sessions for the team this season.

Robert Shwartzman, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2022
Shwartzman appeared twice in practice last year
“It’s the best feeling ever [being here with the Tifosi],” he said a the team’s new car was unveiled.

“Coming back here as a new role, new challenge. It’s very interesting, there’s a lot of new things coming so I’m going to be travelling with the team this year. Obviously simulator work, very important, and also two FP1s with the SF-23. So I’m really looking forward to it.”

Shwartzman was supposed to make his F1 practice debut in 2020, but did not actually get the opportunity to drive an F1 car on a grand prix weekend until last October’s United States Grand Prix.

That appearance was with Ferrari, who he was a junior driver for at the time, and he then did another practice session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to complete the team’s required quota of giving up to two sessions across the season over to drivers with less than three F1 race starts.

F2 and F3 testing

Last year’s runner-up Pourchaire headed the times
Formula 2 and Formula 3 have already begun their pre-season testing in Bahrain, and each series got two sessions to kick things off on Tuesday.

ART Grand Prix was the team to beat in every session, with Gregoire Saucy setting the F3 pace and Theo Pourchaire going fastest in F2. Due to each driver only having a few sets of tyres for the three-day test, it meant track running was limited and few laps were set at a representative pace. There was also a red flag stoppage in the first F2 session.

Saucy was fastest by 0.044 seconds over Taylor Barnard (Jenzer Motorsport) in the morning, and improved in the afternoon to end the day with a 0.326s gap to nearest rival Paul Aron (Prema).

Pourchaire, the 2022 F2 runner-up, had a 0.348s gap to Jehan Daruvala (MP Motorsport) in the morning, then went faster by three seconds in the afternoon. In that session he was just 0.128s faster though than the next-best driver Richard Verschoor (Van Amersfoort Racing).

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Comment of the day

F1 teams will be sitting down soon to discuss how much money new entrants would have to pay to enter the world championship, and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown defended the current entry fee of $200 million (£164m) – which is distributed between the existing teams to compensate them for any reduction in their earnings arising from the grid’s expansion – as “good value for money”.

“I mean, these franchises are worth quite a bit of money,” he said. “So it’s an investment as opposed to a fee because these franchises, if not already worth billions, certainly will be in the not-too-distant future like other major sports.”

But his comments did not convince all RaceFans readers…

No, it’s definitely a fee and it all goes straight to the existing participants. A new entrant is not investing in their competitors – they are buying their approval.

I think I’d be much more appreciative, or at least accepting, of the existing teams’ stance on this if they’d all paid the same (or equivalent) franchise fee too. But none – not a single one – of the teams currently in F1 has paid even a cent to their competitors to be granted access to F1. And yet they’ve all awarded themselves the power (with Liberty’s blessing as a co-conspirator) to force others to do so. It’s a disgrace.

At least under Bernie and Mosely, it was clear to all new entrants that they wouldn’t be paid for the first 3 years unless they finished in the top 10 in the championship. No payments to competitors required.

Even Brown is exposing the dark reality in F1 here – even though he supports new entrants, it’s on the condition that his own team makes a financial profit from it.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to East Londoner, Ives F1, Mouse_Nightshirt, Tim P, Tom and Enigma!

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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24 comments on “F1 needs an ‘American Max Verstappen’ to capture US interest – Horner”

  1. Or maybe a team with a highly pedigreed name? The only name that most American’s would know? A Verstappen or Hamilton, Schumacher or Prost only come once in a generation so the likelihood that he will be American is pretty low.

  2. some racing fan
    15th February 2023, 1:54

    Verstappen wearing that American football helmet was really an embarassing and cringeworthy sight.

    1. some racing fan
      15th February 2023, 1:56

      Also- COTD is very accurate. Buying into the rich boys’ club.

    2. @some racing fan Embarrassing & cringeworthy indeed, although the entire top three wore such helmets in Miami & will presumably do so again next time around.

      1. some racing fan
        15th February 2023, 7:41

        Let’s hope not

  3. Horner – “Imagine if there was an American Max Verstappen,”


    Best drivers I have ever watched, whatever nations they might come from. Skills, character, personality. Maybe some magic at times. Sportsmanship. To me, it doesn’t matter where they were born. Their soul and spirit, that matters.

    1. Yeah, great point @bullmello. Senna wasn’t from the USA. Nor was he from Japan. But he was hugely popular in both countries as far as I am aware.

      1. some racing fan
        15th February 2023, 9:34

        Senna was hugely popular in Japan but he wasn’t as well known over here in the USA- NASCAR and IndyCar . The best known racing drivers in the US from the time Senna was in F1 was perhaps Dale Earnhardt and Mario Andretti. But he was the best known F1 driver within racing circles in the US- that’s for sure. There were 3 seasons where there was no GP in the US (but the niche F1 followers in the US would make the easy trip up to Montreal anyway).

        But drivers on Verstappen and Hamilton’s level are very, very rare. These are once or twice-in-a-generation level talents. Drivers like Nuvolari, Caracciola, Fangio, Moss, Clark, Stewart, Lauda, Prost, Senna, Schumacher and Alonso are those once or twice-in-a-generation level talents. There’s usually only 1 or 2 drivers who are very clearly the best drivers in the field in a given era.

        1. some racing fan
          16th February 2023, 8:57

          *3 seasons that Senna drove in where there was no GP in the US

    2. @bullmello that might be the case for yourself, but surveys of fans have shown that there is a noticeable contingent with strong nationalistic biases. In some countries, to be an F1 fan can be strongly bound up with being a fan of a driver from your home nation – go back a few years to when Kimi was active, and Finnish fans of F1 were almost exclusively fans of Kimi (around 86% of those from Finland described themselves as fans of Kimi).

      It may be used in positive ways, where it can help popularise a sport by making a wider contingent of the public aware of it, or also in negative ways, where some fans see criticism of a driver as an attack on their own identity due to that shared nationality. Either way, whilst it might hold less significance for you, there are those for whom it does matter considerably more.

    3. This is not the majority view, though. Whether its Hamilton in the UK, Kubica in Poland, Alonso in Spain, Verstappen in the Netherlands – the interest in F1 is often channeled through (what is perceived to be) a compatriot. The media knows this, and makes the most of it.

      One only has to look at the way Vettel was vilified in the English-dominated F1 media when he was beating ‘their’ Button, Hamilton and Her Majesty’s colonial subject Webber. But then Vettel suddenly became a great and likeable guy the minute he no longer had the car to challenge. It’d be comical if it wasn’t so transparent.

  4. Never mind America, the last thing the world needs is another Verstappen. Here’s hoping Kelly doesn’t pop out any of his hell spawn.

    1. This! Let sooner with added American-Ness lol

    2. I think the world needs more Verstappen skills drivers like Charles Lando and George but 1 more is always good.
      Hell spawn is a bit too much i rather see you would use a much nicer words then that.

    3. some racing fan
      15th February 2023, 9:37

      Right now the best American racing driver IMO is Colton Herta, and if he raced in F1 he would never be at Verstappen or Hamilton’s level even after a few seasons. He might win a few GP’s, but if you put him in a RB or a Merc he would be consistently beaten, even after a few seasons in the team.

  5. The competitive order is inevitable & no US driver is in a position to join a top-level team for the time being.

    So two FP1s again, mainly for the fewer-than-three races rule.

    I couldn’t agree more with Keith’s tweet & COTD.

  6. If only there had been a recent opportunity for a young, talented American driver to join the Red Bull F1 stable.

  7. It’s interesting, F1 has bent over backwards to make itself more appealing to an American audience. Be that overt Heineken CGI stars, sprint races or frequent safety cars. Yet the 3 things that actually matter they’ve failed on: drivers, teams and circuits.

    In the past year the best American driver wasn’t allowed in the club due to the ridiculous superlicense rules. Andretti have been given a cold reception $200m bill and the 2 tracks we’ve got in Vegas and Miami are round the house, faux glamour processions on layouts Indycar already do better.

    It’s all very short term thinking.

    1. That’s indeed unfortunately what happens when the financial interests of people with a limited time on the job become the #1 goal of the operation. Haas had a great opportunity to become an American presence in the sport, but they haven’t even bothered to make an attempt.

      Although watching European races is a bit easier for Americans than watching American races is for Europeans, due to the time difference, it’s still important to have some real top shelf events nearby. And as you note, the latest two circuits chosen are among the worst in F1 (although COTA is popular among some) and no amount of shenanigans are going to make Miami a great track.

  8. Ferrari launch events have always been special with the exception maybe of the hybrid era. They started doing that virtual thing in 2014 and this is because Marchionne (RIP) didn’t want the team to lose any minute preparing the event and instead focusing on the performance. My first memory of a Ferrari launch goes back to the 1999 season when Schumacher brought the F300 into Rai studios. Fantastic !

  9. Mario isn’t young anymore
    I expect Antonio to reserve Carlos or Charles if they get ill. Robert is their FP driver.
    So can F1 teams just use same driver on these young FP tests if the driver hasn’t done more than 3GPs. If that is the case I expect them to use same guy over and over again.

  10. Put Colton Herta in Max’s car and we’d have that.

  11. lol take it from a Brit, he’s plugged into what Americans need

  12. playstation361
    17th February 2023, 5:08

    Holiday parties and balloons and very relaxed attitude activities only happened. I know you know nothing will happen. These things are no fear in the mainstream referring to China.

    I want China to exist more in FIA which I think should be in the future.

    I have a feeling China is financially better economy than what it what earlier. We should wait and see what happens and I hope nothing bad will happen and nothing bad will be done and will be highly sportive whatever happens to everything.

Comments are closed.