Haas F1 boss wrong about American drivers – de Ferran
Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time Champ Car champion Gil de Ferran says Haas team principal Gunther Steiner's claims that there are currently no American drivers ready to step up to Formula 1 are not "a fair point".
Haas has made no secret of its desire to run an American driver in F1 in the future, yet Steiner says it is not an immediate priority.
Steiner has also previously stated that IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden, linked with a Toro Rosso drive when the Italian team's line-up was undergoing a reshuffle last year, would not be able to "just jump in" and succeed in grand prix racing
De Ferran told Motorsport.com that he disagreed with Steiner, but added that the small American single-seater talent pool did not help the country's F1 chances.
“I don't think it is a fair point,” he said. "There is a lot of great American drivers, the current IndyCar champion [Newgarden] is a very talented driver.
“I think that a lot of the young American talent has grown, but is focused on the other branch of racing - stock car racing.
"So you get guys that nowadays are older or retired - like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson - and they are supremely talented individuals. But early on they took this branch and, to be fair, it is very difficult.
“A lot of top American talent is going on that branch of the big tree. So the pool is smaller than what it could be.
"Otherwise, I think [Alexander] Rossi is very talented, Newgarden is very talented. There's a couple of other young guys too.”
When asked if there was a stigma surrounding American single-seater drivers moving to Europe, de Ferran said: “It goes back and forth for many years.
“Some guys from Europe went on to the US and didn't get on at all and vice versa. IndyCar and Formula 1 are different.
“I think it's more to do with the individual than anything else. Certainly [Sebastien] Bourdais had a stellar career in America and IndyCar and he was very good in single-seaters over here [Europe].
"You know Sebastian Vettel beat him, but he beats Kimi Raikkonen too. It was rubbish, I guess, he wasn't as good as Vettel but he's a four-time champion.
"But then you had [Juan Pablo] Montoya, who was very successful on both sides, and [Jacques] Villeneuve, who won a world championship.
“It's down to the individual guys. In the same way that Nigel [Mansell] went over there [the US] and killed it."
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