While NASCAR draws huge crowds, Formula One has never been the focus of the American racing scene the way it is in other countries. Which could be why you seldom see American drivers and American teams competing in grands prix. But that dry spell came to an end.
In the mid-season test session at Silverstone the Haas F1 Team put Santino Ferrucci in the cockpit of its single seater. This, according to AutoWeek, marks the first time that an American driver drove an American F1 car since 1977.
The 18-year-old aspiring racer from Woodbury, Connecticut, currently competes in the GP3 series, having raced in various Formula 3 championships around the world.
This was his first time driving an F1 car, and while he didn’t top the leaderboards, he performed respectably. He posted the seventh fastest time on Wednesday out of 11 drivers taking part in the second of the two-day test session. Kimi Raikkonen was fastest, hustling his Ferrari around the British Grand Prix circuit in 1:30.665 to best the 1:31.290 that Fernando Alonso posted the previous day.
It was also the first time that Haas put an American driver behind the wheel. The team is the first to come from the United States in three decades. The team employs French driver Romain Grosjean and Mexico’s Esteban Gutierrez as its primary racing drivers.
The last time an American drove a contemporary F1 car for an American team was Danny Ongais, who piloted the Penske PC4 at the 1977 Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport. Mario and Michael Andretti, Brett Lunger, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sulivan, Scott Speed and Alexander Rossi have all competed more recently, but not for American teams.