Michael Andretti eyes ‘legitimate’ path to Formula 1 for US drivers

Michael Andretti says a by-product of his future new Formula 1 team would be to provide a pathway for young American drivers.

Although there have been 57 American drivers in F1 history, including two world champions in Phil Hill and Andretti’s father Mario, the production line has come to a standstill in recent years.

The most recent driver to cross the Atlantic in search of Formula 1 glory was Alexander Rossi, who competed in five grands prix for Manor Marussia towards the end of the 2015 campaign.

Ironically, Rossi then returned to racing in IndyCar for Andretti, who he has just announced is leaving the team to join Arrow McLaren SP.

However, despite the seven-year gap, it may not be long before the next American driver arrives in F1, with Colton Herta high on Andretti’s list of potential drivers if his hopes of launching a new team for the 2024 season are coming true.

The 59-year-old is waiting to hear if his application to enter Andretti Global has been accepted, although there seems to be a belief within the sport’s hierarchy that 10 teams is enough and an 11th is not. needed at the moment.

Nonetheless, if Andretti is given the green light, he will be keen to create opportunities for American drivers – having himself competed in 13 races for McLaren in 1993 before returning to the United States.

“We want to be an American team that allows American drivers to develop in the future,” said Andretti, quoted by Motorsport.com.

“There is no one there who does that. This is where we want to be. There is no legitimate way for an American driver to enter F1. There simply isn’t. We want to pave the way for F1. »

When Andretti nearly bought Sauber, who runs the Alfa Romeo team, last fall, the idea was reportedly to put Herta in the car.

Herta also has another potential route to F1 via McLaren, with whom he has accepted a development role, although Team Woking IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward of Mexico may also have something to say about this subject.

Andretti said of Herta, who drives for him in IndyCar after spending 2015 and 2016 racing in Europe: “He should be in F1 right now, he has that talent, but [his backers] ran out of money so they came back to the states and he went the [American] way.

“I want to make sure we can get the kids out of karting and open the door for them and if they’re good enough I hope they can go to Formula 1 and we’ll have the team to do that – he there will be this legitimate agreement.”

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