I wonder if your reaction was the same as mine when you heard Scott Speed had been fined $5000 for using abusive language during the stewards’ hearing after the Australian GP?

“Yay! F1 has its own John McEnroe! Er, except without the talent.”

Speed seems such a perfectly arrogant and caricatured Californian that his real name is probably ‘Scott Speed 90210′.
And he’ll certainly need a lot more than mere attitude if he’s to compare to America’s greatest F1 drivers.

Phil Hill of course was the USA’s first F1 World Champion back in 1961, and the following years saw some seriously useful drivers like Richie Ginther, Peter Revson, Dan Gurney and Eddie Cheever on the grid.

Cheever was certainly one of the sport’s nice guys and a real talent, although sadly never a real legend. The States’ most recent star, and last World Champ, was Mario Andretti who spearheaded Lotus’s victorious 1978 season in the “ground effect” Lotus 79.

Mario’s son Michael drove (or rather crashed) for McLaren for much of 1993, spending most races covered in gravel at the far end of the track. And then for the next thirteen years… nothing.

Thirteen years without an American driver! Think about that… Given the country’s fondness for razamatazz, other motor sports, and their love of absurd and horrendously inefficient cars in general, that’s a pretty shocking statistic.

Which brings us back to Scott Speed, who defended his attitude and language, saying “I’m the American out there”; apparently under the impression that he’s starring in a John Frankenheimer movie for gung-ho thickheads where Uncle Sam saves the world through F1.

Do you know why Narain Karthikeyan didn’t rage that he was “the Indian out there” last year? I’ll tell you: he’d have sounded like an insufferable nitwit, that’s why.

The basic question seems to be whether Speed is a rising star with attitude to match, or a gobby yank who should do his talking on the track?

Quite frankly, who cares: unless he’s truly amazing, his most useful contribution to F1 will be to help reinvigorate interest in the USA, already hobbled by last year’s disgraceful farrago at Indy. And that, nitwit or not, he’s surely capable of…
The spats and swearing are just a hilarious bonus for the rest of us.