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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

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Biography

  

It's a name straight out of Hollywood, Scott Speed.

Those of you, of 'a certain age', will remember the cartoon character 'Skid Solo, then there was Scott Stoddard and Pete Aron of Grand Prix fame. However, compared to Scott Speed they pale into insignificance.

To add to the 'legend', Scott is from California, and in many ways his progress towards F1 does read like a Hollywood script. Basically, he appears to be a born-winner.

As is (nearly) always the case, Scott started off in Karts, participating in his first event aged nine. Two years later he picked up his first national championship title going on to win numerous titles and championships between 1996 and 2001. Indeed, Scott became the only Karter to ever win two Super Nationals, which he achieved consecutively in 2000 and 2001.

That same year (2001), Scott made his single-seater debut, contesting the Jim Russell Racing Championship, winning the series at the first attempt.

In 2002 he ran with great success in the Skip Barber National Championship as well as contesting a number of rounds of the Formula Mazda Championship, this brought him to the attention of the Red Bull Driver Search, the programme instigated with the intention of discovering American racing talent.

In (seemingly) no time at all, he was in the run-offs, up against some of his country's leading youngsters and going on to win the inaugural programme.

Part of his prize for winning the Red Bull Driver Search was a season in the highly prestigious British F3 Championship with Alan Docking Racing. Unfortunately, illness meant that he missed a number of races.

In 2004, Scott contested the Formula Renault championships in both Germany and Europe with German-based Motopark Academy. In addition to winning both championships, thus becoming the first ever American to win a European Junior Formula Championship, Scott was given the opportunity to test with the Red Bull Cheever IRL Racing team and contributed valuable feedback.

In 2005, the young American moved up to the new GP2 series, joining British-based iSport International. In pre-season qualifying at Paul Ricard he helped win his team the coveted numbers '1' and '2' on its cars for the inaugural season.

Although he never won any rounds of the championship, Scott was a regular visitor to the podium, eventually finishing third in the title race behind Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen.

In late March, Scott made his F1 test debut, when he tested the Red Bull car at Barcelona. He topped the timesheets, outpacing established WilliamsF1 drivers Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia, as well as fellow Red Bull tester, Neel Jani.

Following another short but successful test in early June, it was announced that Scott would drive the third car in the Friday free practice sessions at both the Canadian and United States Grands Prix, the first American to drive an F1 car 'in anger' for a decade.

Over the winter, Scott added to his CV by taking part in a number of rounds of the inaugural A1 Grand Prix series, his best result being fourth in the Feature Race at Estoril.

In 2006 he lined up alongside Tonio Liuzzi for Toro Rosso, the only team running (restricted) V10 engines.

Although it was thought the V10 and the fact that the team was using the previous year's Red Bull chassis, might allow the Italian team to score the odd freak result, it was not to be. The package was never truly competitive and Scott, like his Italian teammate, had to do the best he could, which more often than not wasn't very much.

There was a points finish in Australia but the American was subsequently handed a 25s penalty for passing (Red Bull teammate) David Coulthard under yellow flags. True, he brought the car home in all but four races, thereby becoming the eighth most consistent driver of the year, but is that what he wants to be remembered for?

Other than the fact that there doesn't appear to have been a strong team management at Toro Rosso, the fact that Speed was matched with another F1 new boy didn't help either. The American, like Liuzzi, needed someone he could learn from, someone he could serve an apprenticeship with.

Sadly, Scott's debut season will be best remembered for an incident off track, a popular YouTube clip, as opposed to a daring overtaking manoeuvre.

Due to what Gerhard Berger described as "contractual issues", Scott was not confirmed as a 2007 driver at the launch of Toro Rosso's 2007 contender. However, two weeks later the American was put out of his misery and confirmed as Tonio Liuzzi's teammate for a second year. Even if the news was revealed in typically bizarre Red Bull fashion.

The delay in confirming Scott, together with Berger's continued reference to the American's attitude suggested that all was not well, and that the youngster had retained his drive by the skin of his teeth.

Under the circumstances, none of us should have been surprised when, after just a couple of races, there were murmurings, with Scott publicly critical of the team and the team equally critical of the American.

On track there were some needless accidents, two of them involving Alex Wurz, and then there was the Nurburgring, which was to be Scott's last race for the team. One of many drivers to spin off in the treacherous conditions, Scott was later involved in an altercation with Team Principal Franz Tost, who, the American claims, assaulted him. "You couldn't pay me enough money to work with them again any more," said Scott.

Consequently, it came as no surprise when the American was dropped ahead of the next race, German hot-shot Sebastian Vettel being drafted in for the rest of the season.

It was good while it lasted, but many will feel that Scott was the wrong man in the wrong team at the wrong time. While the American youngster heads off to do Stock Cars one wonders where the next American F1 star is coming from, for whatever Bernie Ecclestone might say, F1 needs America, its needs an American Grand Prix and an American driver challenging for the title.

For a while it read pretty much like a Hollywood movie script; however, it appears that rather than emulating the achievements of fellow-Americans Phil Hill and Mario Andretti, Scott's main claim to F1 fame, other than that wonderful name, is that infamous YouTube clip.

Statistics - Prior to 2008 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 2
Grand Prix: 28
Wins: 0
Points: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0

Best result in 2007: 9th (Monaco)
Best qualifying 2007: 15th (France)
Worst qualifying 2007: 22nd (Spain)
Average grid position 2007: 17.8
2007: Out-qualified Tonio Liuzzi 4 times
2007: Out-qualified by Tonio Liuzzi 6 times

2007: Completed: 334 out of 646 laps (51.7%)
2007: Finished 3 times from 10 starts (30%)

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