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Mario, Michael and Marco: The 3rd Generation of Andretti in Formula 1?

HOMESTEAD, FL - OCTOBER 01:  Marco Andretti, driver of the #26 Team Venom Energy Dallara Honda prepares to drive during qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar Series Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 1, 2010 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Matt HillContributor IIIMarch 7, 2011

The Andretti family has had a strange relationship with Formula 1. 

It has never been easy to come across the Atlantic in either direction.

Only a few drivers have pulled it off.

Sebastien Bourdais didn't make it in F1; neither did Michael Andretti or Alex Zanardi.

All of them were champions in the United States, but couldn't do the same in Formula 1. Some of this has to do with the difference in the cars.

The cars used in IndyCar have plenty of grip, whereas the Formula 1 car is very twitchy in comparison. The Formula 1 car responds quicker to driver inputs, whereas the IndyCar is slower to respond.

On a street course, a Formula 1 car would be much quicker due to its ability to rapidly change direction and its fast responses. On an oval, it would be much closer.

There have been some drivers that have made the switch very successfully: Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Jacques Villeneuve, Juan Montoya, etc.

Success in one by no means guarantees success in the other.

I have mentioned both Mario and Michael Andretti; to get two Formula 1 experiences that are more different would be difficult.

Mario won the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship, whereas Michael found it a real struggle.

In Michael's defense, he was up against Ayrton Senna as his teammate.

That is a bit like having your first boxing match against Muhammad Ali in his prime.

He didn't help himself by refusing to live in Europe, meaning that if they wanted him for a test, they had to get him to fly over from the United States, wait for him to overcome jet lag and for his body clock to adjust.

Michael's wife at the time was also said to be frustrating everyone in the paddock, meaning that—by proxy—the team was getting annoyed with Andretti for having her around the team.

Andretti struggled with Formula 1, but his final race at Monza—where he scored a podium—shows he may have been beginning to get a grip on the sport.

After Michael's struggle in the sport, it was thought that the Andretti name wouldn't be seen in Formula 1 again.

But recently, Mario said that the young Marco Andretti should be given a chance in Formula 1. Marco has had some tests in Formula 1 back in 2007 and he did OK, with his fastest lap just a second slower than the fastest man of the session.    

Obviously, the cars have changed a bit since then, but if he could do that, then perhaps he could do OK in the sport.

He has done all right on the IndyCar series in the US without standing out too much.

I would like to see Marco have a chance.

He may not come off, but if he is never given a chance then we don't know.

Where he would go if he did come to Formula 1 is a little bit of guesswork.

I wouldn't want to see him in a no-hoper car, but I don't think putting him in one of the front-runners is good either.

To start, you want there to be a chance for him to be competitive without putting too much pressure on him.

A team like Williams would be a good start.

At the moment though, this is all speculation and recommendation, but you never know—the legendary name may grace the sport of Formula 1 once more. 

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