The American Talents Eying a Seat in F1
For only the second time in the past 10 years, a United States driver will take to the 3.4-mile Circuit of The Americas (COTA) at the wheel of a Formula 1 car during the US Grand Prix weekend.
Florida’s Logan Sargeant will appear on home turf to drive the Williams FW44 during the opening Free Practice session (FP1) on Friday, October 21. It will be the first time the Williams Academy driver will have competed in a practice session, as his only prior Formula 1 experience was at a Young Driver test at the end of last year.
So far this season, the 21-year-old has scored two victories in FIA Formula 2 and sits third overall in the series standings. With such results, he stakes a claim for a future Formula 1 seat. Sargeant is the first American to drive at COTA in F1 since Alexander Rossi finished 12th for Marussia in the 2015 race.
Rossi remains the last full-time American Formula 1 driver, but the Californian’s career only extended to five race starts. In 2016, a year after he left Grand Prix racing, he won the Indianapolis 500 and is still a leading light in the IndyCar Series today.
America’s premier open-wheel series is currently a hotbed for young talent, with a number of drivers showing the potential to transition to F1 in the future. One of the brightest stars is 22-year-old Colton Herta. Once a former teammate of McLaren’s Lando Norris in the junior British F4 series, Colton is a top tip for a future F1 seat.
Back in July, Colton enjoyed his first experience of Formula 1 machinery when he tested a McLaren at the Portimão circuit in Portugal. After completing 162 laps (749.7km) over two days, McLaren performance engineer Mark Temple described his run as “very professional, very attentive and very responsive.”
The impact of an American driver of Herta’s or Sargeant’s quality in F1 would be significant. Only five drivers from the United States have won a Formula 1 Grand Prix. On only 22 occasions has The Star-Spangled Banner been played to honor the winning driver standing on the top step of an F1 podium. 12 of those were for just one driver: the legendary Mario Andretti.
But who else is coming through the ranks? Who could one day mirror the achievements of the 1978 world champion? Red Bull has a pedigree for eying talent, and they are backing 17-year-old Jak Crawford from Charlotte, North Carolina. The youngster is currently racing in FIA Formula 3 and took his first win in Austria earlier this year.
Looking even further into the future, another name to watch out for is Ugo Ugochukwu. Currently third in British F4 is the New Yorker, who at the tender age of 15 has already been snapped up by McLaren boss Zak Brown. The 2020 European karting champion is in his first season of car racing and is the youngest member of the McLaren Young Driver Program.
Throughout every discipline of motorsport, American racers are plotting their course to Formula 1 – it may just be a matter of time before fans at COTA are cheering for a homegrown superstar on race Sunday!