O' say can you see, any American drivers? In Formula 1, that answer is no.
While Formula 1 is becoming ever-more popular in the United States (thanks, Netflix), there’s still a glaring omission from the track on Sundays: No American-born drivers.
It’s been a long, long, time since Americans have had a driver to latch onto and root for as their own, and even longer still since an American driver has seen a checkered flag on a race Sunday.
While the United States has something of a rich history with Formula 1, that’s all in the past, and come the two U.S.-based grand prix fans might be wondering exactly why there is such little American representation in the world’s biggest motorsport.
Here’s what you need to know about the state of racing in the United States:
Are there any American drivers in Formula 1?
Currently, there are no American-born drivers racing in Formula 1.
In Formula 2, American Logan Sargeant is currently driving for Carlin. He made his F2 debut in 2021, and he’s part of the Williams Driver Academy.
Why are there no American Formula 1 drivers?
There are a few reasons for this, and most start from a young age:
- Geography is a big part of it: F1 is Europe-based, meaning talent scouts make it priority to search for talent among the junior circuits around the continent as opposed to springing overseas to find racing talent.
- The United States' youth karting scene isn’t as developed as it is on the other side of the pond. Many European drivers are groomed from a young age in karting circuits, as opposed to in the States, and join junior teams soon after. A number of F1
- To that end, the U.S. racing scene is still is very robust. From oval racing to rally car, truck series and more, the options for open-wheeled racing is generally limited, and American interest is geared towards oval racing. If drivers do want to get involved with open-wheeled racing, then IndyCar — America-based — may be the end destination for drivers before F1.
Who was the last American F1 driver?
The last American driver to compete in F1 was Alexander Rossi in 2015. Rossi started five races in 2015 for the now-defunct Marussia F1 team, finishing outside the points in every start.
The last American driver before Rossi was Scott Speed (yes, real name), who raced for Toro Rosso between 2006 and 2007. He also sat in a seat as a Red Bull test driver in 2005.
That’s not to say Americans are totally out of F1, since there is an American-owned F1 team: Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, founded the Haas F1 Team in 2015, with their debut in the field coming in 2016. Haas is also co-owner of NASCAR’s Stewart-Haas Racing.
Best American drivers in F1 history
While not American-born, Mario Andretti holds American citizenship, by proxy making him the greatest American F1 driver in the circuit’s history. Most drivers to race in F1 under the American flag raced during the birth of Formula 1, which was founded in 1950.
Andretti won the 1978 F1 driver’s championship for Lotus. He’s also the last American to win a grand prix, coming in 1978.
Here’s a list of drivers to race under the Stars and Stripes:
|Driver||Race wins||Years active|
|Mario Andretti||12||1968-72; 1974-82|
|Dan Gurney||Four||1959-1968, 1970|
|Phil Hill||Three||1958-1964, 1966|
|Peter Revson||Two||1964, 1971-1974|
|Troy Ruttman||One||1950-1952, 1954, 1956-1958, 1960|
|Rodger Ward||One||1951-1960, 1963|
|Jim Rathmann||One||1950, 1952-1960|