American Scott Speed looks to crack the top eight this weekend in Indianapolis following on from a short race in Montreal. Luck at his home track, even though he currently resides in Austria, has eluded Speed in his two appearances, first as a ...
American Scott Speed looks to crack the top eight this weekend in Indianapolis following on from a short race in Montreal. Luck at his home track, even though he currently resides in Austria, has eluded Speed in his two appearances, first as a Friday driver for Red Bull in 2005 and last year for Toro Rosso. Speed probably ran more laps than a majority of drivers his inaugural year given the Michelin tire debacle, but was eliminated in last year's first turn pileup.
With Toro Rosso's recent upswing in pace, evidenced by Speed's 9th place in Monaco and a double advancement into Q2 in Montreal, there is hope the team can score their first points of the season this weekend. Vitantonio Liuzzi recorded the team's only point last year in 8th, and the team in its former incarnation of Minardi had scored here the previous two seasons.
Points, and pressure, were the common themes in a conference call Speed participated in this morning. Rumors abound that three-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais will be in F1 next year having tested twice for Toro Rosso, and with no seats currently available it's up to the team's current drivers to go big or go home.
"I don't look at results as what makes me happy or not," Speed pondered. "To score, a lot of things have to go your way, especially given where the team is. Hopefully you're in 9th place and someone drops out and you get 8th. But those circumstances are totally out of your control."
"Formula One is controlled almost completely by the performance of the team. You'd never see anyone jump in a Toro Rosso and get on the podium."
Speed's relationship with the team's sporting director Gerhard Berger was tenuous at best in the off-season, having only been confirmed several weeks before the season opener in Melbourne. "I had no uncertainties, because I had a contract with Red Bull," Speed mentioned. "I have no worries continuing into this off-season."
When asked about his current contract negotiations, Speed replied, "I can't discuss details, of course," but added, "It certainly feels like a lot of pressure. Gerhard expects a lot. But I definitely feel I have started off better than I did last year. F1 is a very small world, with not many seat openings."
Speed's last race in Montreal ended abruptly after colliding early on with Alex Wurz, damaging his own suspension. Liuzzi was up to 5th late in the going but crashed at the "Wall of Champions", leaving Scuderia Toro Rosso to ponder what could have been, especially as Wurz drove a car with a wounded rear wing to 3rd.
As it was Speed's retirement left him a birds-eye view of the horrendous accident involving Robert Kubica. "I was sitting in one of the marshal's chairs," Speed recalled. "It was quite startling to say the least, from my perspective. I did whatever I could to find out his condition and any information, as it was quite worrying the second half of the race."
If there is one contributing factor to Speed's upturn in race performance this season, it's his brother Alex, a companion at a majority of the races. "Definitely (his being here) has helped, as being an American in F1 can be very lonely," Speed noted. "There are no other American drivers and the presence of Americans in F1 is very little."
"I definitely feel more comfortable, like I belong. It's nice to feel as comfortable as I do because it was not an easy entrance."
Speed is hoping that he won't have to make a difficult exit at season's end.