Mario Andretti: Marco deserves shot at F1

Marco Andretti (USA) Andretti Green Racing talks with Mario Andretti (USA)  IndyCar Series, Rd3, Indianapolis 500 Practice, Indianapolis, USA, May 2009.

Marco Andretti with grandfather Mario Andretti

Mar.6 (PVM) Racing legend and 1978 Formula 1 world champion Mario Andretti says his grandson Marco Andretti deserves a crack at Formula 1 on merit alone.

Mario Andretti (USA) Marco Andretti (USA) Honda RA107 and Michael Andretti (USA) Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, 7 February 2007 DIGITAL IMAGE

The Andretti family at Jerez in 2007 where Marco got his taste of F1 Honda

Andretti senior, when asked if Marco had the  ability to do well in Formula 1, responded, “I think he really would, and I know people will say it’s biased but it is really based on pure facts and I would say the same if he wasn’t related to me. He’s a typical modern driver – extremely fit, totally immerses himself in whatever he’s doing and he learns circuits quickly.

The 12 times Grand prix winner pointed out, “The two brief tests he [Marco] had with the Honda F1 car in 2007 were more politically-motivated than actual pressure tests to see what he could do, but had they continued to run him or given him a more serious run at the car, he would have been there, no doubts about that. To me, he showed a lot of promise just in the short time he had behind the wheel.”

Marco Andretti (USA) Honda RA107  Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, 7 February 2007 DIGITAL IMAGE

Marco at the wheel of the Honda RA107 at Jerez in 2007

Andretti recalls, “I was there at Jerez, and I remember on the second day it was wet and Honda weren’t going to send him out,” the 71-year-old recollected, “but Marco is very good in those conditions – he’s had a reputation right from the moment he first started racing that he is fantastic in the rain. Eventually they decided to send him out, and [at one point] he found himself behind Alonso as he was also beginning a serious run in the McLaren.”

He added, “For about six laps they were together and during those laps, Fernando never pulled away from Marco – and they were both going at a strong rate of pace. Marco stayed right with him, and I think that showed a moment of brilliance to some degree for someone so new to the cars and also because of the conditions.”

08.11.2008 Chengdu, China,  Marco Andretti (USA), driver of A1 Team USA - A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2008/09, Round 2, Chengdu, Saturday Qualifying - Copyright A1GP - Free for editorial usage

Marco Andretti drove for A1 Team USA in the 2008 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport

Marco currently drives for father Michael Andretti’s team – Andretti Autosport – in IndyCar, but Andretti senior does not believe this would hamper a move to F1 for his grandson, “I think that his talent is one that needs to be cultivated and although he drives for his father’s team in the IndyCar Series, Michael would obviously encourage Marco to do F1 if the package on offer would do his talent justice. There’s no question he is good enough for F1 and would be fully committed to it.”

Michael Andretti had a 13 race spell 1993 where he partnered the late Ayrton Senna at McLaren, but only scored seven points and is probably a part of his career he would wish to forget.

Marco Andretti’s experience outside of IndyCar and the USA had been during a stint as Team USA driver in the now defunct A1GP series.