Mario Says Marco Is Now a Man

Posted by Iannucci | 10/25/2006 | 5 comments »
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From Autosport: some doting words from a loving grandfather:

"This year Marco had his debut in the IRL, he started it a rookie and ended it a man," Mario was quoted as saying by Gazzetta Dello Sport…"He was so smart and so patient to win the race," Mario said. "He drove well above his age, but he did that all year."
Also, some confusing words from a loving grandfather:

"I have a desire to put him at the wheel of an F1 car sooner or later," he said. "If the invitations will come, I'm sure he'll consider them."
Now, I understand that Formula One racing is still considered by many to be the pinnacle of auto racing, and there is nothing wrong with aiming for the top. But does Mario not remember what happened to his son Michael when he went to Formula One? It was only 13 years ago, but let’s refresh.

In 1993 and to much fanfare, Michael left CART to join the highly competitive McLaren team. This would be akin to the Ganassi team today inasmuch as it was one of two two-car teams (along with Williams) which had a solid shot at victory on race day. Michael’s teammate was the late Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian sensation who would win five of 16 races in 1993 but finish second in the championship to rival and former McLaren teammate Alain Prost.

Michael, however, was not nearly as successful. He completed three laps in his first three races and managed but a single podium in Monza, his 13th race. The finish was unimpressive, as McLaren fired him before the end of the season and replaced him with Mikka Hakkinen.

Take a moment to consider all the great American drivers in the last 25 years of Formula One racing…OK, you’re done. There are none. Not Eddie Cheever, not Scott Speed, not Danny Sullivan, and certainly not Michael Andretti. Anyone with any eyes can see that the likelihood of Marco succeeding in F1 is pretty much zip.

Perhaps is Ferrari comes knocking Marco might have a chance to stake a claim as a solid American F1 driver, but realistically you have to ask if it’s worth it. Right now Marco may be the second most recognizable face in American open-wheel racing, but if he goes to Formula One he becomes practically invisible in his homeland. Considering the minimal probability of success in F1, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to just throw away his current momentum for the folly of competing in Bernie Ecclestone’s hyper-political series.

I’m not telling Mario or Marco what to do; I’m just trying jog their Manly memories.


  1. Anonymous // October 25, 2006 9:50 AM  

    Michael's F1 career is an example of what not to do.

    He tried living in the States (to save a failing marriage), he joined right as a test ban was going into effect (he couldn't get seat time), and his teammate was regarded as one of the best drivers of all time with a reputation for destroying his teammates. Oh, and the McLaren wasn't that good of a car in 1993.

    Sure, he wasn't Senna, but who was?

    As far as Marco, he'd do well to get some test shots at an F1 car - become a third driver at best - with an established team. I suspect Mario knows that.

  2. Anonymous // October 25, 2006 10:19 AM  

    "Anyone with any eyes can see that the likelihood of Marco succeeding in F1 is pretty much zip."

    I'm sure Marco, Michael and Mario appreciate you highly informed analysis of Marco's chances for success in Europe.

    If you knew anything about F1 you would know the '93 Mclaren was using an under-powered B-spec Ford engine. McLaren had lost is dominating Honda V12 the previous season. 3 of Senna's five wins that year came in the rain, where he was the best ever. One of his other wins was in Monaco, a circuit he owned.

    There is no doubt that Michael made mistakes that season, but he was also hurt badly by the testing ban that had gone in place that season.

    Your analysis that because there has been no successful American in F1 in 25 years, Marco has no chance is idiotic. It also bullshit to say he should stay in the IRL because he would remain more "recognizable" here. If he was worried about being "recognizable" he would go south and drive a stock car, instead of staying at AGR to help Danica prop up the IRL.

  3. Iannucci // October 25, 2006 10:59 AM  

    I didn't suggest Marco stay in the IRL to maintain his Q score, but rather said that going to F1 and likely failing would lower it.

    While those are compelling arguments for why Michael failed, if those were indeed the causes of his dismal season then why didn't he try to stay in F1? His marriage was lost anyways, and if success with F1 was indeed within his grasp then there should be some evidence to suggest that. There is none, and he quickly went home to CART.

    Maybe he left because of family or whatever, but his bad season is still there with or without excuses.

    As for Marco he is a fantastic driver, but there are a lot of fantastic drivers in F1. A whole grid full of them in fact, which greatly reduces the likelihood of his success in that league. This is why I used the other American drivers - including his father who was also a fantastic driver - as examples.

    As an IndyCar fan I'd love to see Marco have a solid IRL career, but as an American it would be great to see Marco and Graham Rahal go and dominate F1 for the next decade. But again, I can't believe that's going to happen because history doesn't show it to be feasible.

  4. pressdog // October 25, 2006 1:09 PM  

    I kinda think Marco's ultimate goal is F1. He seems more comfortable and capable on the road courses. His road/street drives in his rookie year show he has skillz. Maybe he can exorcise the Andretti curse in the 500 and then move on to recapture grandpa's glory in F1. If you're a road guy, F1 is the ultimate. I'd advise Marco not to worry too much about what Mike or Mario did in whatever series and just do his own thing. It might even be better if he ends up driving for a mid-pack F1 team for a while so there are decreased expectations. Get seat time and then look to jump to a competitive team.

  5. Anonymous // October 25, 2006 9:56 PM  

    He wants to be in F1, but he better go to a ride that will win..... Your either really good or really bad it seems like (unless your Toyota, in which your all over the place...)