Category Archives: American F1 talent

Thoughts for Young Drivers from Mario Andretti

In a follow up conversation with Mario Andretti this weekend about Americans driving in F1, the arrival of Haas F1 Team, based in Kannapolis, North Carolina brought to mind a new interest in the sport from young driving talent here in America.

Mario’s reaction was great to hear, and he has some advice for younger drivers getting their start along a racing career.

[Haas F1 Team] is going to spark a lot of interest, and quite honestly I know that theres some young talent in America that will probably see [F1 as] a potential vehicle to be noticed and be potentially evaluated . . . its a positive for sure that we have the prospect of an American F1 team, so lets see how it plays out, but it can only be good.

When asked about advice to share with a potential pool of American drivers to build their racing resume, Mario had some wise advice for young racers with a goal to race professionally:

Just do your thing. theres no formula that if you follow this, this, and that you’re gonna be there.  You’ve just gotta find your way, based on wherever you are, whatever your possibilities are… you’re going to have to be creative, find maybe somebody that will back you up. 

You know its never easy, its always going to be a road filled with a lot of potential stumbles here and there.  Let your desire, let your passion drive you and you’ll find a way.  I wish I had the formula, I would bottle it and sell it – I don’t have it.

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F1 Behind the Scenes: Meet Sean Kelly


Like many this week, you’re probably missing F1 again – so here’s a short quiz:

  • When’s the last time all three podium finishers were all of the same nationality?
  • When’s the last time four different constructors won the first four races of the season?
  • Where do you go for the right question to ask – and have the answer to – as an F1 record’s being broken live?

For the answer to the first two questions, keep reading below – and for the answer to the third, meet Sean Kelly – a man who’s written his own job description in Formula 1.

As a member of SPEED’s research team and F1 statistician, Sean specializes in compiling and studying the reams of F1 statistics and data leading up to a grand prix weekend, then looking for potentially record setting and statistically significant events that broadcasters can turn to as part of their programming.


Based in San Diego and Charlotte, Sean Kelly's service keeps F1 broadcasters around the world updated on race stats and facts for their audiences


I met with Sean just before the season opener in San Diego down at Henry’s Pub, a local F1 institution on Sunday mornings, and got a glimpse of exactly what goes into the work he produces at his firm, Virtual Statman, and how that shapes our experience of race broadcasts. It should be said that it helps having the ability to totally recall races, dates, winners and pole sitters for every GP, but a lot of thought has gone into the final product as well.

Before each race, Sean produces a pre-race report covering teams, venues, dates, drivers and cars in a detailed and indexed 18-20 page document that gives race announcers easy access to facts and stats. “It’s important not to overload announcers with too much information” Sean says, “statistics need to be put into a context that doesn’t bog down their broadcasts.”

Sean’s demonstrated his ability soon after we met, and he can put together a story of facts and stats just looking at a photograph or outline of a car, remembering testing locations, liveries, and drivers. And he’s only missed 2 races in the past 25 seasons – not bad for a guy in his early 30’s.

“My first race was in 1987, when I was 6, my brother turned on the Brazilian Grand Prix at home, I just sat and watched – and have been following ever since.” Starting in the early 2000s, he got the idea for this sort of service when he approached SPEED about an idea – one “that would forever change how the sport was covered” – he laughs now when recalling the shot he took by leaving a voicemail with SPEED’s F1 producer Frank Wilson.

But what started out as a project with the broadcasters at SPEED has now turned into a global audience, with 18 different media markets subscribing to the service, and there’s no signs of that slowing down: “The 2006 USGP at Indy was a tipping point for me, when I was introduced to the great Swiss journalist Agnes Carlier, and she really DOES know everyone in the pitlane, from Bernie right down to me. I explained to her what I did and she said ‘Oh, so it would help to meet all the other broadcasters too, no? Come on, I’ll introduce you.’ That day alone I doubled my client list, and that was when things really started to get big. After 3 1/2 years of scraping along, finally I was starting to make a proper living from F1.”


When he's not in Charlotte covering F1 races with the SPEED team's live feed, Sean travels to the GP to keep his subscribers up to the minute on F1 stats and facts


Sean’s reports are now used by Sky, BBC, SPEED, RTL and several other television networks worldwide (19 in total at last count), so somewhere in the world during a race, he’s playing an important behind-the-scenes role in what’s said by the leading broadcasters in television:

“Sean is a terrific resource, and you can hear his input in much of what we present on the air on SPEED. To me, the important thing about his array of F1 background is that he can tailor it to the need, whether it’s the announcers, who work on the fly, or the production staff, who prepare broadcast elements in advance. We have several people on our team who have amazing recall when it comes to F1 minutae, and their discussions of a given race occasionally leave David, Steve and me in the dust.” – Bob Varsha, SPEED

So with all his knowledge and recall of the sport, I had to ask Sean – “Don’t you bet on F1?”

“No!” Says Sean – “But my dad is always looking for tips.”

When he’s not compiling the latest data, covering the sport at the F1 circuits or in Charlotte with the SPEED team, Sean’s supporting Liverpool FC or playing the drums – give him a shout out on twitter @virtualstatman and stay tuned for more of his insights next race with more stats and facts as the season heats up.

Quiz: When’s the last time all three podium finishers were all of the same nationality? 1983 When was the last season to have different winners in the first four races? 2003


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Pirelli and Circuit of The Americas Partner to Take F1 on a US Tour


Ferrari three seater


Circuit of The Americas and Pirelli have announced a partnership in a press release today to bring different Formula 1 experiences around the country to promote the upcoming race in November:

Together the two companies have laid out an extensive campaign this year to promote the inaugural 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ to fans throughout North America. Some of the initiatives fans can look forward to this year include an interactive show car display in different locations around the country, the recently announced Pirelli GP Challenge powered by SPEED TV and the exclusive Formula GP Experience.

These include an F1 show car tour, which will include a Lotus F1 chassis like that seen at the New York International Auto Show earlier this year as well as a driving simulator in several cities across the US:

Circuit of The Americas and Pirelli will be hosting an F1 Show Car Tour throughout the country this year, with stops throughout Texas in June and July. The display will allow for public viewing of a Lotus F1 show car and a driving simulator experience for fans. This tour will include an F1 car on display in iconic spots around the country and in the state of Texas. Some of these stops include Montreal Crescent Street, the Monterey Classic Car Show in Pebble Beach, Denver, Chicago, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Austin, Cleveland and South Florida. One stop in particular is the recently announced Formula Expo in Austin, Texas June 16-17, 2012. Formula Expo will feature over 120,000 square feet of exhibits and demonstrations from top Formula 1™ teams, as well as the companies creating the sport’s groundbreaking technology, and it will offer the opportunity to meet some of the F1 drivers. Other locations of the show car display will be released in the coming months.

Already in progress is the Pirelli GP Challenge, an online fantasy league for the 2012 season, but there’s more . . .

Circuit of The Americas and Pirelli will also host the Formula GP Experience, the only Formula One™ riding experience for fans in North America. This will serve as the ultimate in F1 experiences and will allow racing fans to ride alongside an F1™ driver inside a modified 3-seater F1 race car. Only four of these cars exist in the world, two of which will be used in Austin, Texas, at the Driveway Austin during race weekend in November.

The cars allow ardent fans the chance to experience what it’s like to be an F1 driver. The cars go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in only 1.8 seconds, and they reach top speeds of more than 220 miles per hour. Customers can expect an exciting, safe experience as they ride along with some of the most experienced drivers in the world. Formula GP Experience drivers include Derek Hill, F3000 driver and son of Phil Hill, the first US F1™ world Champion; former Indy Car Driver Eric Bachelart; current Red Bull F1 Driver Jaime Alguersuari; and former F1 drivers Paul Belmondo, Eric Van De Poele, and Tiago Monteiro.

The Formula GP Experience will begin in May with a final stop in Austin, Texas, Nov. 16-18, with pricing and registration available at



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