American Drives an American F1 Car for First Time in 40 Years
Haas F1 Team development driver, Santino Ferrucci, took his first laps in a Formula One car during testing at England’s Silverstone Circuit. The 18-year-old from Woodbury, Connecticut piloted the Haas VF-16 racecar for a total of 55 laps on Tuesday and 107 laps on Wednesday, marking the first time an American driver wheeled an American Formula One car since Oct. 9, 1977 when Danny Ongais drove for Penske in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Formula One rules state that two days of each in-season test must be allocated to young-driver training, which is classified as someone who has competed in two or fewer Formula One races. Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez participated in the first open test May 17-18 at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, making them ineligible for the Silverstone test. Ferrucci’s 55 laps on Tuesday surpassed the 300-kilometer (187 mile) requirement necessary for obtaining an FIA super license.
Ferrucci was named as a development driver for Haas F1 Team in March. He is currently competing in the GP3 Series with DAMS, an accomplished racing team that has helped graduate numerous drivers to the FIA Formula One World Championship, including Grosjean.
"For me to get the opportunity to be the first American in an American team since 1977 was an impressive milestone I think. So I was really proud of that and proud of the team. I think everyone did a good job," said the 18-year-old.
Ferrucci is confident his experience with Haas F1 Team will help him be more completive in the GP3 series.
“It was a great day, and we achieved a lot for the team” Ferrucci said. “The guys did a great job setting up the car. The balance, for me, felt good all day. I had a lot of confidence in the car to really push the limits. Physically I felt good, and the more laps I ran, the better I was feeling. It’s good to know I prepared well to be able to hop into the Formula One car from my GP3 car. Everything I’ve learned here will help me in the GP3 Series. The last couple of days have been a phenomenal experience. I couldn’t be happier.”
Haas F1 Team Principal, Guenther Steiner, was pleased with Ferrucci’s performance and the benefit to the team.
“The morning went very well, concluding with some runs on new tires so he (Ferrucci) could get a feel for how the car works” Steiner said. “In the afternoon we continued with our program, including gathering some more aero data. We then concentrated on some more running for Santino to see how comfortable he was in the car. The last two days have been very worthwhile for us. It was a good job by Santino. He did more than we expected him to do. He only recently turned 18, and these cars aren’t easy to drive, but he was well prepared. Everybody on the team has been impressed with him.”