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GP Week : Issue 59
>>F1 INSIGHT ended up coming good together and in the last five races we were always in the points and we were always competitive in qualifying. It was a really good time. “Sebastien and I pushed each other and he was a great team-mate to have. Both of us were very competitive and we were always close in times. We constantly pushed each other to improve and I think that’s why we made such big leaps over the season. Our competition and teamwork really moved the team forward. Of course then we were able to compete with ART/ASM towards the end of the season, and all in a season where we had, I think, six current F1 race or test drivers, so it was a very competitive year. Definitely it was a lot of fun racing with guys like Vettel, Buemi, Nakajima, and it was a great time.” By season’s end, Summerton had truly announced himself onto the European stage, winning at the final round at Hockenheim and beating his more fancied team-mate Buemi in the championship. He also finished above Romain Grosjean and took second in the rookie championship behind Kamui Kobayashi. Not bad for an American kid few had heard of, and who was, including karting, in only his fourth season of racing anything on wheels. Jonathan Summerton had arrived, and was relishing the opportunities that lay ahead of a second season in F3 EuroSeries, and graduating to GP2 along with his F3 rivals. It was a dream that was to go unrealised, however. “Not finding a full-time drive in 2007 was disappointing, definitely, but you know with the sponsorship and economy the way it was, it was very hard to find the backing but I got an opportunity to develop the F3 car for Volkswagen. “Basically from there at least it was something that I was able to do and keep driving, and I thought that being in Europe it was a way to keep racing over there and be at the front of developing a new engine for a manufacturer. Going into GP2 I would have loved to have done, but there was just no financial backing that I could find and so I took the next best route which was development work.” Summerton had taken an enormous gamble coming to Europe in the first place. Only a few American drivers had risked the same path over that period, and those were guys with big backing. The likes of Scott Speed and Colin Fleming were sponsored to the hilt by Red Bull, but Jonathan was having to make his own way. With the world in the early throws of financial meltdown he could have been excused for simply giving up on his F1 dream, but that simply wasn’t in his make-up. An opportunity arose to represent his country with a drive in the A1GP Series. He grabbed it with both hands, and took the teams first and thus far only win in the category, and the success helped boost his profile not only in Europe, but back at home in the States too. 1