18-year old becomes the first American to drive an American F1 car in 40 years

Santino Ferrucci raced 55 laps for Haas in a test on the Silverstone track and emerged a historical figure.

He’s not yet lived two decades, but he’s already made a name for himself in a way much older racers still have not. Connecticut-born Ferrucci became the first American to drive on an F1 track in an American owned car since Danny Ongais drove a Penske car in the 1977 Canadian Grand Prix. Haas, the team that signed him on as a development driver earlier this year, is no slouch in record-breaking itself, being the first American team to participate in Formula One since 1986.

All impressive credentials, of course. But that’s not exactly what Ferrucci, who finished 7th in the test run, is particularly chuffed about now. He’s just happy to be ascending the pyramid to his ultimate aim: to make a livelihood out of driving for F1.

“My first lap out was a radio check, and I was so like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening’ that I totally forgot to do anything they asked in the first lap. They had to come on the radio and remind me and I was like, ‘Yeah, I got it, I got it. I’m just a little bit in shock here!”

Santino Ferrucci

And that was even before he started the car. When he did manage to drive it, he was almost blown out of the cockpit by the magnitude of the experience. Now we are beginning to see the wisdom of a Halo protection screen.

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“The car is on another level. I gotta say, to drive an F1 car is impressive. You really can’t explain it.

“I had an idea from the (simulator), but to go from the sim to the reality, it blew me away. How fast you go from over 600 mph to 20 is unbelievable. I mean, to experience over 5 G’s of force is not something you do every day unless you’re a fighter pilot.”

Santino Ferrucci

But despite Ferrucci’s glaring lack of experience as a fighter pilot, he managed admirably. Team Principal Guenther Steiner only had praise for the youngster’s ability to handle the temperamental beast that is the Formula 1 car, which can throw less adaptable beginners off. Ferrucci’s ability to rein it in for 300 km (186.4 miles) despite ominous showers has earned him his FIA superlicense, his meal ticket to a future on the circuits.