Scott Speed is the only American racer on the Formula One grid this season and the 23-year-old Californian is happy to be back on home soil this weekend. Speed made his Indianapolis F1 debut as Red Bull's third driver in 2005 and this time around...
Scott Speed is the only American racer on the Formula One grid this season and the 23-year-old Californian is happy to be back on home soil this weekend. Speed made his Indianapolis F1 debut as Red Bull's third driver in 2005 and this time around he will line up on the grid for Toro Rosso. He's enjoying his season so far with the Italian team.
"For me, it's been fantastic," he said in Thursday's FIA press conference at Indy. "You know, when you first get into Formula One, there's always a question: 'Do I belong here? Am I good enough to stay?' I got a lot of confidence now with that. My team has been very supportive of me. Just feels great to be back here at home, I got to tell you."
Now he's competed in the nine Grands Prix of the season so far, Speed has settled into life as an F1 driver. "I think after the first race, there hasn't been so many surprises," he commented. "You always have to do your first Grand Prix sometime. It's an experience that you have to go through. There's a steep learning curve at the beginning."
"Now we're just all trying to improve as much as we can. It's a bit difficult for us, because of our engine situation, to keep up. Having a 10th place last weekend was a great result for us this late in the game. Team is doing some big steps forward."
It's no big surprise that a small team such as Toro Rosso hasn't scored any points yet this year -- Speed did pick up his and the team's first point in Australia but subsequently lost it when he was penalized for overtaking under yellow flags. There's also been controversy about the restricted V10 engine Toro Rosso uses but there's yet to be a proven advantage.
Speed believes the V10 will have a hard job at the fast Indianapolis circuit but is encouraged by the performance in Montreal, where he finished 10th. "Certainly at a track like Canada and here it's going to hurt us because we don't have the top horsepower. But surprisingly we were still pretty competitive in Canada. I'm still optimistic for this weekend."
Although Red Bull took over the existing Minardi squad it's still a lot of hard work to make a team competitive. Even Red Bull Racing itself, which was expected to make progress this year, has struggled for results. Speed doesn't expect any huge improvements for the rest of this season but is hopeful for the long term.
"I think that Red Bull and Toro Rosso is on the right way," he said. "But it's certainly not something that's going to happen this year. Maybe next year, if things go very well, we develop at very good rate, maybe a podium could be possible. But this is also being a bit optimistic. I think it's more of a three-year program."