FOR A little country, Australia has fared pretty well in our Formula One ventures. But according toAutosport magazine, we could have fared a lot better.
The British motorsport mag has named four Aussies in its top 50 drivers who never raced in Formula One. Will Power, Frank Matich, Craig Lowndes and James Courtney all featured on the list, topped by Tom Kristensen, Sebastien Loeb and Dario Franchitti.
Almost every driver dreams of F1, but the majority of them never make it to the driver’s seat. A lot of the time that’s because they’re simply not good enough, but sometimes there is more to the story…
#21 Will Power
Young Will Power had incredible raw speed but the struggle to find consistency, coupled by the strain of funding his Euro campaign, saw the United States win out in the end. Penske Racing provided the perfect environment for Power to unleash and he has since become a potent force in America. But apart from a single F1 test with Minardi in 2004, sadly the Queenslander never really made it onto the F1 radar.
#22 Frank Matich
This guy’s racing endeavours in the 1960s and ’70s had him tipped as the next Aussie to take on Europe. He was even offered an F1 drive by legend of the sport Colin Chapman, but incredibly turned it down. “I was rather surprised that he was quite serious, but it just wasn’t practical,” Matich tellsAutosport. “I was lucky to have the Total sponsorship going, but they did not have any international racing programs. So out of respect to them, I said no.”
#40 Craig Lowndes
Lowndes arrived in Europe in 1996 ready to dive headfirst into F3000 with RSM Marko. While he had done all the right things to earn the seat, ‘The Kid’ struggled, eventually being trumped big-time by his teammate before returning to Aussie shores for good. “I have no regrets,” Lowndes tellsAutosport. “In hindsight, you could always have made better choices, but it showed me what the world of motor racing was like. The only disappointment was that I didn’t get a second season [in F3000].”
#46 James Courtney
Courtney had the world at his feet when he showed up at Monza on July 11, 2002 for a Jaguar F1 test. All that would change in one day. The rear wing on Courtney’s Jaguar collapsed, took out the right-rear suspension and sent the car careering into the wall at over 300km/h. “That shunt fundamentally changed his outlook on F1,” Courtney’s longtime manager Alan Gow tellsAutosport. “That’s when he decided he wasn’t going to be cannon-fodder for anyone and we didn’t pursue F1.”
Honourable mentions: #19 Scott Dixon (NZ)
Kiwi-born Dixon passed by Europe entirely on his way to the top of the American ladder. His success in the US earned him a test with Williams in March of 2004, but it unfortunately never eventuated to anything more.
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