Speed Realistic About USGP
June 15, 2007 | 12:26 A.M. EST
Not only does the USGP generally draw the biggest crowd of the year for Formula One, upwards of 120,000 people have been on hand for previous race days on average, but it is one of the biggest markets worldwide for the manufacturers that compete and invest heavily in the sport; BMW, Mercedes, Ferrari, etc.
However, there is but one person to whom this event means more than anything else: Scott Speed.
The only American driver in Formula One returns for a second try at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, hoping to not only improve on his result from his debut last year – where he failed to finish a lap after being involved in a Turn 1 accident – but also in the hopes of bettering his previous best finish of ninth and score his first career points in competition.
While the native of Manteca, California, is very excited about attempting to reach those goals at the upcoming event on Sunday afternoon, he is realistic as to what he expects as far as results.
"I think similar to Canada to be honest," said Speed, who qualified 16th last weekend but was forced to retire early because of an accident on Lap 9. "Maybe not quite the same race pace as we had in Monaco (where he finished ninth), because I think the long tracks don’t suit us quite as well this moment. But certainly we hope to be in Q2 and have a strong race."
Even though that may sound pessimistic to American fans that are used to seeing their athletes succeed in various sports around the globe, it is the only realistic expectation for this weekend.
"In F1, it is very easy for me to walk with Alonso or Lewis Hamilton as equals," said Speed. "F1 is a sport that is controlled almost completely by the performance of the team. Most of the teammates qualify and race next to each, you would never see anyone jump into a Toro Rosso car and put it on the podium in the last few years. So for us, once we do get to F1 it’s almost easier for us all to respect each other, because we understand more than anyone how little we can control our performance because like I said, in F1 it is so much more a team sport than any other form of racing, because many things are out of the driver’s control.
"I definitely have the view where I don’t look at the results as what makes me happy, because results are not something you can control. I mean if you look at today how many people score points that would normally never score points, you can maybe realize that in F1, to be in the right position to score points, a lot has to go your way. Especially for us with how competitive we are at the moment, there is definitely a place I can see in the almost immediate future where we are quicker and more competitive which will definitely help our quest to score more points. If you do a good job in your race, have a good start, make very little mistakes, make good passes then you have to be happy with yourself. And if you keep doing that the only hope is that one time it will work out for you and you’ll be in ninth place and a guy will drop out before the finish, but that kind of stuff you can’t control."
Unfortunately, that is the harsh reality of the sport. While a fairytale ending could result on Sunday, and Speed could find himself with a top-eight finish (which would earn him points under Formula One’s point system), it is not likely to happen unless everything falls into place this particular weekend.
Though he won’t be battling amongst favorites Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and the rising BMW Sauber organization, keep an eye out for the driver of the No. 19 STR2 for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Everybody else may be saying disparaging words about this event, but the United States Grand Prix is really the most important event for Speed and he’ll be doing his best to put on a show for his home crowd.
"It’s like my homecoming of the year," said Speed. "Certainly I have a lot more support here than the rest of the races. It’s nice to be back in America."