F1 needs an ‘American Max Verstappen’ to capture US interest

In the round-up: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner expects Logan Sargeant prospects for success are too “limited” to have real impact on the sport’s popularity in the USA.

In brief

‘Imagine if there was an American Max Verstappen’ – Horner

Horner expressed doubt over how great an impact Sargeant will have at Williams, the team which finished last in the 2022 championship. “It’s great to have him there and he’s a talented young guy [but] he’s going to be limited in what he can do,” he told the New York Post.

The Red Bull team boss says America needs a driver in a competitive car to raise the sport’s popularity in the same way Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez did in their home countries. “The problem is, if you’re finishing 14th or 15th it doesn’t really turn people on,” he explained.

“I think if he was fighting at the front in a competitive car, then you’d see [something like] what happened with Fernando in Spain, or Checo [Perez] and the reaction in Mexico.”

“Imagine if there was an American Max Verstappen,” he added. “What we need is a young, talented, competitive American driver.”

Aston Martin AMR23 to run today

The new Aston Martin AMR23 will be seen on track for the first time later today as Aston Martin crosses the road from its factory to shake down its 2023 F1 contender at Silverstone. Rivals Mercedes will also run at the track as they launch their new W14.

Lance Stroll and new team mate Alonso are expected to drive the Aston Martin, and the team will become the eighth to get their 2023 car on track. They will be the fifth to do a shakedown at Silverstone, with the two Italian teams having tested at local tracks and the Switzerland-based Alfa Romeo having travelled to Barcelona to debut their car.

Shwartzman to drive in two practice sessions in 2023

Ferrari’s new reserve driver Robert Shwartzman revealed at Ferrari’s SF-23 launch he will drive in two Formula 1 practice sessions for the team this season.

Robert Shwartzman, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2022
Shwartzman appeared twice in practice last year

“It’s the best feeling ever [being here with the Tifosi],” he said a the team’s new car was unveiled.

“Coming back here as a new role, new challenge. It’s very interesting, there’s a lot of new things coming so I’m going to be travelling with the team this year. Obviously simulator work, very important, and also two FP1s with the SF-23. So I’m really looking forward to it.”

Shwartzman was supposed to make his F1 practice debut in 2020, but did not actually get the opportunity to drive an F1 car on a grand prix weekend until last October’s United States Grand Prix.

That appearance was with Ferrari, who he was a junior driver for at the time, and he then did another practice session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to complete the team’s required quota of giving up to two sessions across the season over to drivers with less than three F1 race starts.

F2 and F3 testing

Last year’s runner-up Pourchaire headed the times

Formula 2 and Formula 3 have already begun their pre-season testing in Bahrain, and each series got two sessions to kick things off on Tuesday.

ART Grand Prix was the team to beat in every session, with Gregoire Saucy setting the F3 pace and Theo Pourchaire going fastest in F2. Due to each driver only having a few sets of tyres for the three-day test, it meant track running was limited and few laps were set at a representative pace. There was also a red flag stoppage in the first F2 session.

Saucy was fastest by 0.044 seconds over Taylor Barnard (Jenzer Motorsport) in the morning, and improved in the afternoon to end the day with a 0.326s gap to nearest rival Paul Aron (Prema).

Pourchaire, the 2022 F2 runner-up, had a 0.348s gap to Jehan Daruvala (MP Motorsport) in the morning, then went faster by three seconds in the afternoon. In that session he was just 0.128s faster though than the next-best driver Richard Verschoor (Van Amersfoort Racing).

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