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GP Week : Issue 59
>>>FF1 I1NSIGHT INSIGHT It’s been one of the biggest questions of 2009 – just which American driver will USF1 pick to drive for the honour of their nation in the team’s debut F1 season in 2010? It’s not like Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor are short of choices, but one driver makes more sense than all the others... and the chances are he’s not the one you’re thinking of. WILL BUXTON explains Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal... hell, even Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya have entered the mix and they’re not even American! I Just which driver will USF1 pick as their poster boy? While few seem to be in any doubt that Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor will try to find an experienced F1 driver to head up their team, the duo have stated from the off that one of the primary purposes of their team is to give young American racers a crack at Formula 1. There is one driver, however, who makes more sense than all the other American hopefuls put together. What’s most astounding is that you t’s a list of names that seems to grow longer every week: Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick, may not have even heard of him. But, with each passing week, there seems to be an increasing chance that you will do. He’s competed against, and beaten, a large number of current F1 race and test drivers. He’s young, hungry, talented and, unlike many of his American counterparts, has always said that his long term goal and ultimate racing ambition was to race in Formula 1. Meet Jonathan Summerton. Jonathan’s racing career began comparatively late in life, when at the age of 13 he began racing in karts in the Rotax Junior Championship in the States back in 2002. With just one full year of karting behind him in 2003, he graduated to Formula BMW USA for 2004, winning a scholarship to the class after impressing the championship’s talent spotters at their annual tryouts in Valencia. “Racing in Formula BMW USA was great,” he says, looking back. “BMW did a great job with all their training and everything they did with the Formula BMW series. It was a good introduction to the motorsport world. Getting to race on two F1 venues in my first year was a great thing to have happen because racing in F1 has always been my dream and my goal. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot that year.” He stayed for just one year in Formula BMW USA finishing third in the championship, before taking the bold decision to quit racing in the States and head for Europe for a season of Formula BMW Germany with Team Rosberg. “It was a big risk coming over to Europe,” he agrees. “There haven’t been a lot of Americans to take that path or step out of the US area. The reason behind it all though was because I wanted to make it to Formula 1 and I knew that to do that you had to be in Europe. You have to show well wherever you go. Coming from the States, Formula BMW in Germany was a very steep learning curve.” A steep learning curve it may have been, but Summerton took his second season of single-seaters in his stride and impressed so much that he landed a plum drive with Mücke Motorsport in the Formula 3 EuroSeries for 2006, teamed up with future F1 driver Sebastien Buemi. “In Formula 3 Euro Series we had a great season. Of course I made the rookie mistakes of putting pressure on myself, but overall we 29