To many people, making the journey from Woodbury, Conn., to a spot on the Formula One grid probably sounds impossible. But Santino Ferrucci is on the brink of doing just that.
Currently competing in Formula 2 — formerly GP2 — Ferrucci is in his second season as a Haas F1 Team development driver. As a result, he represents the United States’ best chance at having a homegrown F1 driver since California native Alexander Rossi moved to IndyCar in 2016.
Despite growing up in New England, where there’s a large oval-racing following, Ferrucci started karting in New York and always has been interested in open-wheel racing. He got his start stateside in F2000, but the Connecticut native didn’t want to try to climb the American single-seater ladder.
“For me, when I turned 8, my main goal was to become like Michael Schumacher,” Ferrucci told NESN Fuel. “So I never really looked at IndyCar, it was always going to be Formula One for me. That was my goal and my dream, and I’m getting pretty close to it.”
Ferrucci has yet to make a Grand Prix start, though he’s already made his mark on the sport.
Haas had him partake in last year’s post-British Grand Prix test, marking the first time an American driver had wheeled and American car since 1977. The 19-year-old tried not to think about that fact too much at the time, but the significance of it isn’t lost on him.
“To think of that history — how long it has been — it’s shocking, and it’s a bit scary to be honest,” Ferrucci said. “But to see an American team back, and an American driver back in the ranks, it’s a really good thing. I think it’s very good for the sport.”
Although Ferrucci found that adjusting to working with an F1 team was a bit overwhelming, that initial test at Silverstone Circuit ultimately proved his time in the junior formulas has served him well. Throughout the day, he gained experience behind the wheel of a modern hybrid-powered F1 car in wet and dry conditions on what he describes as a “big-balls track.”
Ferrucci lives in Italy during the race season, but frequently returns to Connecticut to spend time with family. The U.S. therefore very much still is his home, and it would mean the world to him to make his F1 debut for Haas, with the American flag adorning the side of his car.
“I’d be so proud for the country, for the team,” Ferrucci said. “It would be such an accomplishment to everyone looking to go into F1 as an American, who has those hopes and dreams of coming to race on this side of the world, with this team and how high tech everything is. It’d be an eye opener.
“And for me, I wouldn’t even know what to do, I’d be so grateful for the opportunity.”
All photos via Haas F1 Team