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An American in F1 – Scott Speed

A while back there was a rumor that Scott Speed was going to be replaced in the Toro Rosso team for 2007. This was denied very quickly by the team and since then there have been no further rumblings. However, it does highlight the fact that Scott is not generally given much credit for his performance this year, whereas the brief tussle between Toro Rosso and Red Bull over which team should have Vitantonio Liuzzi’s services next year would indicate that the Italian is pretty highly regarded.

In view of this, you would think that Liuzzi had comprehensively trounced his American teammate in 2006. Yet a study of their results for the season shows a somewhat different picture.

In qualifying, Liuzzi grabbed a higher grid slot at twelve races, Speed managed to outpace him six times. Which looks bad for Scott until we separate the year into two halves. In the first half, Liuzzi outqualified Speed eight times and Speed managed to get the drop on him only once. But, in the second half, the figures are Liuzzi 4, Speed 5. That speaks of a remarkable improvement in Scott’s speed (if you’ll pardon the pun) – suddenly he is at least on a par with his supposedly-quick teammate.

If we then turn to the races, disregarding DNFs (Did Not Finish) as they are not always the driver’s fault (and anyway they had the same number of retirements – 4 each), we find that Liuzzi finished higher than Speed at five races and Speed beat him the same number of times. The same swing of the pendulum that we noted in qualifying is also apparent here – Scott finished higher than Liuzzi only once in the first half of the season but notched up four thereafter.

Of course, we should remember that you can prove anything with statistics, but these figures make it pretty clear that, judged by results, there is little to choose between the two drivers. In fact, you would be wiser to put your money on Speed since he exhibits a learning process and is likely to get better with time. Yes, he made a few mistakes in his first season but so does any driver new to F1. The point is that he is learning.

Liuzzi may be learning too. But, if he is, he isn’t doing it as fast as Scott. And my conclusion has to be that, of the two, Scott Speed has the greater potential. It is no wonder that Toro Rosso laughed at the idea that they would drop him.

Scott 2

Scott Speed in the Toro Rosso STR-01

Next year Toro Rosso will have Ferrari V8 engines and will no longer suffer from running a limited V10. Then will the true performance of the car become apparent and the abilities of the drivers be easier to assess. It is just possible that Scott will surprise us all and become one of the hot properties of 2007.

One Response to “An American in F1 – Scott Speed”

  1. [...] It is just not true that Liuzzi and Speed did not perform well last year. At almost every GP we were told that the TR’s V10 would not be able to compete with the V8s, only to see the cars perform far better than expected, especially through the speed traps. Liuzzi was rated highly enough for Red Bull to want him as a driver until Mark Webber came up for grabs and, as pointed out in my post, An American in F1 – Scott Speed, Scott was looking the better of the two towards the end of the season. [...]

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