Silence on Scott Speed
I have said before that F1 is a fickle beast and the case of Scott Speed shows just how true this is. Only a week has passed since his tiff with Toro Rosso bosses and subsequent departure were making headlines yet now it is as though he had never been.Scott Speed in BahrainThe last I heard was Scott's manager, Glen Hinshaw, assuring us that an announcement regarding the team and driver ongoing relationship would be made after the Hungarian GP. Did you hear anything about Speed after the race? I certainly didn't, although STR were chortling over the signing of Vettel for 2008 and the expected addition of Bourdais to the team at some time in the future.Scott's team mate, Tonio Liuzzi, had a few words to say about his own dubious future but gave no indication as to whether he knew what was happening with Speed. He did, however, hint that Scott's version of events was true and that the team had already decided to replace their contracted drivers before the beginning of the season. Am I the only one to have noticed that this makes Franz Tost's pre-race assertion that Speed was replaced because of a lack of performance a blatant lie?Those who have bothered to study Scott's record this season knew that anyway and SpeedTV's comparison of Liuzzi's stats with Scott's showed that he has outperformed his team mate too.But it is water under the bridge now and we can do little more than watch as the STR saga unfolds. I have no doubt that I will be able to say "I told you so" when Vettel fails to do any more with the STR than did Speed but my greater concern is what happens to Scott now. It would be nice to know whether Red Bull have managed to find him something or he is investigating other possibilities.I have done my utmost to find some hint of what is going on but there is just one enormous silence out there. It may be that this indicates some quiet negotiations, too delicate to release to the media, are taking place but I really don't know. Presumably we will be told in due course in some unobtrusive article somewhere.But I can guarantee you this: as soon as I hear something on the matter, I will be writing about it. F1 may suffer from collective amnesia but I do not.
I believe that the pressure placed on Scott and any F1 driver, for that matter, means that his situation can happen to anybody, dare I say, even the likes of Alonso. (Pretend McLaren's car had underperformed this year if you are having trouble imagining it. Frankly, I had doubts about McLaren before this season based upon last year's performance that were quickly laid to rest, but anyhow...)The only real "pain" I feel for Speed is that in an interview, he seemed so settled into a European lifestyle, and talked about living in Austria and having a girlfriend there and so on. We so casually talk about Scott Speed racing ChampCar or Nascar but if Scott really likes living in Europe, he probably belongs in, or at least would prefer, touring cars or a Formula 3.
Just about the only thing anyone seems to know about Speed is that he's American - I have heard him so often described as F1's "token American". Yet he's a terribly bad choice for that position. From childhood he has wanted to race in F1, a rare ambition in any American kid, and he took to Europe like a duck to water, just as you say, Chunter. It is quite likely that the silence I am hearing is caused by Scott being so busy trying to get back into F1 that he hasn't got time to speak to the press.He has done F3 and GP2 so I can't really see him going back to either and that would leave touring cars, probably the DTM, as an option. But there is an aura of retirement about ex-F1 drivers in that form of racing and I don't think Scott would fancy that.So Champ Cars or IRL are perhaps the only open-wheel possibilities left to him if he can't get back into F1. And his reputation there has been so severely damaged by STR that he would have to do a lot of talking to persuade a team manager to give him a try. It's a mountain for him to climb but then, he's done that before.You are so right about the pressures on F1 drivers these days, however. They get half a season to prove they're the best or they're out...
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