October 8, 2009

Where there's a will...

The principals at USF1 say the reason they cannot run, as promised, American drivers in their Formula 1 debut is because delays in the Concord Agreement left them with no time and that in any case, there are no American drivers who would qualify for a F1 Super license.
Remembering how Kimi Raikkonen came to Formula 1 after what, 10 car races all together?, I looked up the requirements set forth by the FIA:

Qualification and conditions of issue for the Super Licence

5.1 The driver must be the holder of a current FIA International Grade A licence.
5.1.1 The driver must also satisfy at least one of the following requirements: have made at least 5 starts in races counting for the FIA Formula One World Championship for Drivers the previous year, or at least 15 starts within the previous 3 years.
5.1.2 a)have previously held the Super Licence and have been the regular test driver with an F1 World Championship team for the previous year.
b) been classified, within the previous 2 years, in the first 3 of the final classification of the F2 Championship, or of the final classification of the GP2 Series, or c)of the final classification of the GP2 Asia Series or of the final classification of the Japanese F/Nippon Championship,

d) been classified in the first 3 of the final classification of the Indy Racing League (IRL) series or of the Champ Car World Series within the previous 2 years; been classified in the first 4 of the final classification of the Indycar IRL series the previous year.*
* From 1.1.2010: been classified in the first 4 of the final classification of the Indycar IRL series within the previous 2 years.
e) be the current champion of one of the following: Formula 3 Euro Series The principal national F3 championships of: Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain World Series F/Renault V6
N.B.: the title of Champion is considered valid for 12 months from the last race of the relevant series or championship season.

f) be judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars, but with no opportunity to qualify under any of c) to e) above.

In this case the F1 team concerned must show that the applicant has driven at least 300 km in a current Formula One car consistently at racing speeds, over a maximum period of 2 days, completed not more than 90 days prior to the application and certified by the ASN of the country in which the test took place.
By exception, if supported by the Safety Commission, the FIA World Motor Sport Council may approve the issue of the Super Licence to persons judged by the Council to have met the intent of the qualification process.

In other words, there are set paths but also a lot of wiggle room especially now that the role of test drives is so reduced. Historically it seems to me to be a "where there's a will there's a way" process. So what happened to USF1's will?

USF1 (or USGP) have shown pictures of fancy equipment and hosted FIA representatives recently (you have seen the press release on every F1 web site this week) yet they still have no working web site and have not announced an engine supplier or even a european base of operations. That explains why there will be no American drivers, if USF1 is going after, say, Toyota engines, they will probably have to run a Nakajima...

So perhaps the will is there but not as much of the way as we are led to believe yet?



  1. oooo sellin out will not bring the fans.... you better believe it....I think the principals would be ill advised to consider their followers will fall in line behind nakawho?ma when there is andretti and a score of american open wheelers that would die for a shot......

  2. Andretti...as in Marco? LOL.

  3. I think American racing needs to let go of these dynastic obsessions...

  4. maybe when they say there aren't any qualified american drivers, they're not thinking about super licenses. maybe they just mean there aren't any american drivers who are qualified to race in f1. because there aren't. the dominance of nascar in this country has blocked the development of any proper circuit drivers. how many 14-year-old kids (and their parents) are willing to move to europe to stay on the competitive track to breaking into f1?

  5. @ charles, OK but then why cop out and blame bureaucratic procedures and delays?

    Personally I don't buy that there is no American driver that is at least at a Nakajima-Grojean-Piquet level. Again, remember that Raikkonen only raced less than 20 races ever before he came to F1...

  6. @AC they blame the bureaucracy because it would be horrible pr for them to say "american drivers aren't good enough for f1 right now," and even though it's less about the talent and more about the training, the media would boil it down to "not good enough" and everyone would get hung up on that and see the actual reason as backpedaling.

    have sato, ide, and nakajima been good or bad for japanese drivers getting into f1? i'm not sure. on the one hand, it keeps young japanese drivers following f1 and aspiring to get there, but on the other hand, seeing one japanese driver after another get embarrassed in f1 doesn't exactly improve perceptions or pave the way for the next japanese driver. i'm not sure having an american driver with the talent level of nakajima drive in f1 would be good for american drivers.

  7. I think the major stumbling block is the right turns on a lot of the F1 circuits.


  8. @AC: Kimi had 23 races under his belt, 13 of that he won.
    It was enough to impress Peter Sauber and the rest is, as they say, history :)


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