Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport, attracting the best drivers from around the world. But what about American F1 Drivers? How have they fared in the history of F1, and why are there none on the grid today?
If F1 is going to take off in the US more American F1 Drivers will have to be involved. In this article, we will explore the stories of the American drivers who have dared to take on the challenge of F1, from the legendary Mario Andretti to the promising Logan Sargeant.
We will look at their achievements, their struggles, and their hopes for the future. We will also examine why American drivers are so rare in F1 today, and what it would take for them to make a comeback. Join us as we celebrate the history and the future of American F1 drivers.
The Ten Most Successful American F1 Drivers
The United States has produced 58 F1 drivers, including two world champions: Phil Hill and Mario Andretti. Here are the eleven of the most successful American drivers in terms of race wins, podiums, and points:
Mario Andretti: The American Legend
Mario Andretti is widely regarded as the greatest American F1 driver of all time, and one of the most versatile and successful drivers in motorsport history.
He achieved his lifelong dream of becoming F1 world champion in 1978, driving for Lotus, and also won races for Ferrari, March, and Williams. He is the only driver to have won the F1 world championship, the Indy 500, and the Daytona 500.
Phil Hill: The First American Champion
Phil Hill was the first American driver to win the F1 world championship, and one of the most respected and admired drivers of his era.
He was also a three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a renowned sports car driver. He was known for his smooth and precise driving style, his technical knowledge, and his gentlemanly demeanor.
Dan Gurney: The American Pioneer
One of the most popular and respected drivers in F1 history, Gurney won four races and scored 19 podiums. He also won races in IndyCar, NASCAR, Can-Am, and sports cars.
He was the first driver to spray champagne on the podium and the first to wear a full-face helmet.
Richie Ginther: The Consistent and Reliable Driver
A consistent and reliable driver, Ginther won one race and scored 14 podiums. He was also a test driver for Ferrari and Honda, helping them develop their cars.
Peter Revson: The Heir Who Chose Racing
A member of the Revlon cosmetics family, Revson won two races and scored eight podiums. He was also a successful sports car driver, winning the Can-Am championship twice.
Eddie Cheever: The American Driver with the Most F1 Starts
The American driver with the most F1 starts (132), Cheever scored nine podiums and 70 points. He later moved to IndyCar, where he won the 1998 Indianapolis 500.
Masten Gregory: The First American F1 Podium Finisher
Known as the “Kansas City Flash”, Gregory scored two podiums and 21 points. He was also a prolific sports car driver, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965.
Mark Donohue: The American F1 Pioneer
A legend of American motorsport, Donohue won one race and scored one podium in F1. He also won races in IndyCar, NASCAR, Can-Am, Trans-Am, and sports cars.
He died in a crash during practice for the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix.
Jim Hall: The American F1 Pioneer Who Built Chaparral
A pioneer of aerodynamics and technology in racing, Hall scored one podium and three points in F1.
He also designed and raced his own cars in Can-Am and sports cars, introducing innovations such as movable wings and ground effects.
Bob Bondurant: The American F1 Driver and Instructor
A former motorcycle racer, Bondurant scored one podium and four points in F1. He also raced in sports cars, winning the 1965 World Sportscar Championship with Ferrari.
He later founded a racing school that bears his name.
Logan Sargeant: The Rising Star of American F1 Racing
The 2020 Formula 3 runner-up, Logan Sergeant is one of the most successful American drivers in recent years. He has competed in various junior series such as Formula 4, Formula Renault, and Formula Regional.
He has also been part of the Renault Sport Academy and the Williams Driver Academy.
Why Are There Not More American Drivers in F1?
Despite having a rich history of racing talent, the United States has not produced an F1 driver since Alexander Rossi in 2015. There are several reasons for this:
F1 teams are primarily based in Europe.
American drivers have to travel across the Atlantic to compete in junior series such as Formula 2 or Formula 3. This is an expensive exercise, and these competitions are incredibly competitive.
Many American drivers prefer to stay closer to home and race in IndyCar or NASCAR instead.
F1 is not as popular or well-known in the US as it is in other countries. Many Americans are more familiar with oval racing or stock car racing than open-wheel racing.
F1 also lacks exposure and coverage in the US media, making it harder for American drivers to attract sponsors and fans.
F1 is a highly demanding sport that requires a lot of support from teams, sponsors, mentors, and fans. American drivers often lack this support network when they try to enter F1.
They may face difficulties finding a seat with a competitive team, securing enough funding, adapting to different cultures and regulations, or gaining respect from their peers.
What Does It Take for an American Driver to Succeed in F1?
Despite these challenges, there is still hope for American drivers to make it to F1. Here are some factors that could help them achieve their dream:
The most important factor for any driver is talent. An American driver who wants to succeed in F1 must have exceptional skills behind the wheel, as well as a deep understanding of the car, the track, and the strategy.
They must also be able to cope with the physical and mental demands of racing at the highest level, and to adapt to different conditions and situations.
Another crucial factor for any driver is experience. An American driver who wants to succeed in F1 must have a solid background in racing, preferably in open-wheel categories.
They must also have exposure to European circuits and culture, as well as to the F1 environment and regulations. They must be able to learn from their mistakes and improve their performance over time.
A final factor for any driver is opportunity. An American driver who wants to succeed in F1 must have a chance to showcase their talent and potential to the teams, sponsors, and media.
They must also have access to a competitive car and team, as well as to adequate resources and support.
They must be able to seize any opportunity that comes their way and make the most of it.
The Future of American Drivers in F1
While there are no American drivers on the current F1 grid, there are some promising prospects who could make it in the near future. Here are some of them:
The son of former IndyCar driver and team owner Bryan Herta, Colton Herta is one of the rising stars of IndyCar. He became the youngest winner in IndyCar history at 18 years old, and has since won four more races. Colton also has experience in European junior series such as Formula 3 and Formula 2.
He has expressed interest in racing in F1 someday and has been linked with teams such as Red Bull and Williams.
Juan Manuel Correa
The survivor of a horrific crash that killed fellow driver Anthoine Hubert in 2019, Juan Manuel Correa is an inspirational story of resilience and determination.
He has recovered from his life-threatening injuries and returned to racing in Formula 3 this year. Correa has also been part of the Sauber Junior Team and the Alfa Romeo Racing development program.
He hopes to make it to F1 someday and honor Hubert’s memory.
These are just some of the potential American drivers who could break into F1 in the future.
Of course, there may be others who emerge from different paths and backgrounds. The key is for them to have talent, experience, opportunity, and passion for the sport.
American F1 drivers have a long and proud history in the sport, but they also face many challenges and obstacles to reach the top level. However, there is still hope for them to return to F1 and achieve success. With more support, exposure, and development, they could follow in the footsteps of their predecessors and make their mark on the world stage.
I hope you enjoyed this article about American F1 drivers.
- American F1 Drivers
- Mario Andretti
- Bob Bondurant
- Eddie Cheever
- Mark Donohue
- Richie Ginther
- Maston Gregory
- Dan Gurney
- Jim Hall
- Phil Hill
- Peter Revson
- Logan Sargeant