Red, White, and Overdue

Tony Di Zinno
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Of the four winners, only Scott Speed had a good enough 2003 season to keep him in the program, whereas Grant Maiman, Joel Nelson, and Paul Edwards had minimal success.

Speed 05 Imola 01

2002 Red Bull Driver Search winner Scott Speed has driven in a number of series during the last three years in his quest to return an American to Formula 1. Last season, he won the Formula Renault championship.

The program was expanded in 2003 to include kart racers as well as formula racers, and a process of elimination included a test at the Estoril circuit in Portugal. Speed was retained, and Dominique Claessens, Colin Fleming, and Matt Jaskol were selected as Red Bull Driver Search winners.

Speed and Fleming drove in the Formula Renault 2000 Series this past season, and Speed did an outstanding job to win the series championship. He won seven races at notable tracks such as Hockenheim in Germany, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Imola in Italy. Fleming finished third in the points standings and had a best finish of second in three races, twice behind Speed (Spa, Imola). Jaskol won races in the U.S. Formula BMW Series, while Claessens did well in both Formula Renault 2000 and German Formula Renault.

For 2005, the Red Bull Junior Team will contain Speed, Fleming, and fourteen-year-old John Edwards. That is not a misprint. Edwards graduated from Skip Barber regional racing after two years and beat out the other contenders at Estoril. Age is his only hindrance at the moment-Formula 1's youngest-ever driver was New Zealander Mike Thackwell at nineteen.

Red Bull's interest in F1 grew substantially when the Jaguar team announced it was withdrawing from the grid. Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz purchased the Jaguar assets and rebadged the team with the sports drink's name. Red Bull first made an F1 appearance in 1995 as a primary sponsor for the Sauber team. If an American were to get the call, the Red Bull squad would be ideal.

For 2005, Speed has graduated to the GP2 Series, the replacement for the International Formula 3000 championship. He recently tested with Red Bull at Spain's Circuit de Catalunya. He posted the fastest time of the four drivers at the test, the others being fellow Red Bull-sponsored driver Neel Jani and the Williams-BMW pairing of Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia, both F1 veterans.

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