Speed Sounds Off Against Bosses

Speed Sounds Off Against Bosses

Scott Speed - 2007 European Grand PrixCalifornian racer Scott Speed has opened his mouth again, and that can only mean one thing: He’s annoyed at somebody or something and wants to have a moan about it. This happens probably once or twice a year and the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver has developed a bit of spoiled child reputation among the paddock fraternity. But is his recent sound off actually nonsense, or is Scott right to be paranoid about his position within the team?

Let’s go back to the start of the year, where team boss Gerhard Berger refused to divulge the driver line up for quite a while. Toro Rosso were among the last of the teams to announce their drivers for 2007, each time Berger refusing to answer the obvious questions thrown at him, and all the time letting others test the car. Even triple ChampCar champion Sebastien Bourdais got a run in the new car. Eventually though, it was announced that the 2006 team would remain, and Vitantonio Liuzzi was allowed to race alongside pal Scott Speed for another year.

However, as Scott has said today, this wasn’t even the beginnings of his disgruntlement though. But before we get to his comments, we should remind ourselves that at the European Grand Prix yesterday, both drivers failed to get past the third lap as both had incidents that resulted in their retirements. The weather was atrocious, to the point where Charlie Whiting threw the safety car and then the red flag. But only after Speed shot off at turn one, followed closely behind by his team mate who almost hit a tractor in the gravel trap.

Following the race, the Toro Rosso post-race statement read as follows: “Nothing to say today.” The only other text on the page was a translation of the remark in Italian. Nice.

Scott Speed (background) - 2007 European Grand PrixFranz Tost has lambasted the drivers by saying that only good drivers completed the race, which in a way is compounded by the sister teams result. Red Bull managed to claim third and fifth with their experienced drivers Mark Webber and David Coulthard respectively. It is perfectly possible that Tost is correct in his statement, but you have to wonder why then, these two were hired in the first place? It isn’t like their ages and experience weren’t known before they signed on the line.

And now today Speed has made some bold statements to the press regarding his future at the Italian-based team. Speaking to SpeedTV, Scott remarked the following:

Gerhard and Franz have their own ideas about what they want to do with their future, and they say things accordingly. It’s clear that from my bosses me and Tonio both have very little support. It’s been that way for the last two years, and it’s a lot more now.

At some point I said I don’t care – if I’m not in F1 next year, if I’m with a different team, it’s okay for me. It’s actually made me lot more relaxed and a lot more calm, and I think I’m producing better results, actually. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read the press and know that Franz and Gerhard are pushing like hell to get rid of me and Tonio. Scott Speed.

Well, if they weren’t thinking that previously, Scott, they almost certainly are now!

It is quite clear that Berger is under pressure to get the STR team to perform. There were mumourings earlier in the year that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz may well be selling his share of the junior team, although these rumours have so far remained to be untrue. Putting Bourdais in the car may help, as his experience with racing in general will provide a big boost for the outfit.

There are a couple of names that we’re interested in, where we know they are able to do a good job and one of them is Sebastien Bourdais, another one is Sebastian Vettel and hopefully we’re going to see some more possibilities and we’re going to check everything very carefully and then make a decision: what is the right thing for us for the future. Gerhard Berger.

Those were the words of Berger at the race this weekend. So it seems that Scott’s paranoia may be correctly founded. According to one source, Vitantonio Liuzzi - 2007 European Grand PrixSTR have until the end of the month to secure a contract with Bourdais for next year, so I’m guessing that rumour will either come to fruition or get brushed under the carpet. But regarding the second seat? Well the team would do well in keeping some consistency going and retaining one of its drivers. However, it does seem that Tonio is doing the better out of the two of them. Having said that though, he too has made mistakes and isn’t leagues ahead of Speed.

What should STR do? What would you do if you were the boss? Replace one and keep one? Or replace both? Either way, I’m certain next years team will have a different line up.

Formula One, F1, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Scott Speed, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Gerhard Berger, Franz Tost


  • Just reading it now, sounds like an Alex Ferguson boot across the face scenario, if the story proves to be accurate.

    To be honest, I am a little surprised that even Speed has come out with these words. You just don’t say these things to the international media unless you already know the truth and it won’t hurt you to say them.

    Suffice to say, Speed won’t be in a Toro Rosso next year. Maybe a Spyker, but certainly not a Red Bull owned car…

    …Not now anyway.

  • Speed had a bit of a rep as a spoiled, arrogant brat when he was in karting, so why did anyone think it would change when he got to F1?

    Yet another embarrassment to the American racing community.

  • I never really followed Speed having figured out that contrary to everyone’s opinion an American driver in F1 did not mean Americans would actually take an interest, so I can’t comment to his status as a whiner. It does strike me as silly that everyone criticizes a driver for being spoiled, arrogant and whining however. The characteristics do seem to apply to nearly every driver I recall, good or bad.

    Not to defend Speed, especially if he is a whingey little brat, but is it just possible that STR’s problems could be related to something other than it’s drivers? I’m just not sure I ever heard of anyone grabbing Sato’s suit collar or thumping Webber on the back in anything other than a good natured way.

  • I think Scott’s seen the writing on the wall and that’s why he’s suddenly exposing all his team’s perceived flaws. [url=http://www.scottspeed.com/start.html]The race counter on his official website[/url] says “Season Finished!”, which tells me he’s not expecting an invite for next race, never mind next season. There is something wrong with STR if drivers are walking out mid-season of their own volition, no matter what the management’s opinion may have been of Scott. Personally, I thought Speed was better than Liuzzi, but that neither were as good as the Sebastia/ens and unless one of them could not be brought to STR, both would be out – at season’s end.

    Sometimes, you just want to throw something at the management…

  • Okay, time for Speed’s side of the argument to be put. To begin with, I must point out that Speed has been doing considerably better in the STR car than Liuzzi and continues to improve. Not once has he thrown the car off the road this season, unless you count the lakeside car park at the Nurburgring and he was in pretty good company there. Apart from that, all of his DNFs in 2007 have been caused by mechanical failure or another driver (usually Wurz) driving into him. In almost every race he has been ahead of Liuzzi, even when the Italian qualified ahead of him. If Liuzzi is any good at all (and his reputation says he is), then Scott is better and continuing to improve.

    Contrast this with the lack of support he has had from his bosses. Even before the season began, Berger was jerking him around over contracts and complaining to the press about his drivers. This didn’t stop when the the season began; we have heard nothing from the STR management but whining about the drivers needing to improve. Apart from being crassly bad management, this is disloyal and destructive to team spirit. Any manager worth his salt works with what he’s got and gets the best from his drivers without ridiculing them in the media.

    Both Scott and Tonio have put up with this situation without a word of complaint to the press and done their best with a car that was every bit as difficult as the Red Bull has proved (not surprising really, since it’s essentially the same chassis). Taking into account the fact that RBR has a lot more money and reputedly better engineers than STR does, we should not be surprised if the STRs were way behind the parent company’s cars in the races.

    But a quick study of Speed’s races shows that this has not been the case. He has consistently raced with DC and put in similar lap times, occasionally even getting ahead of him. If Speed is crap, DC must be even worse (yet he’s won several GPs in his career and is enjoying an Indian summer of form).

    The facts just don’t support the theory that the STR drivers are useless; they may well be a lot better than anyone has guessed. But what has become clear without doubt is that the real problem at STR is bad management. I see today that Bourdais is having second thoughts about driving for the team and one can understand why.

    Speed’s account of Tost’s assault on him is supported by eye witnesses. The story first got out because reporters were told of the incident by persons other than Scott, who remained silent on the matter because Tost and Berger came to him and apologised after the race.

    What really made him mad and caused his statement to Adam Cooper, however, was the fact that Tost promptly went to the press and denied that he had done anything more than touch Speed on the shoulder. This was a clear demonstration that the apology had meant nothing and that things were going to continue in the same way, with the drivers getting the blame for STR’s failures. Scott finally broke his silence and told us a little about what life has been like in the team.

    And it may be good for the team that he did. STR have had to go crawling back to him after discovering that Vettel was not immediately available (it is also likely that Mateschitz had a word in Tost’s ear, since RBR’s statement on the matter gave support to the drivers and implied disapproval of the managers). And you can bet that Scott did not agree to return to the team without some conditions being set, amongst which would have been that the whingeing statements to the press stop immediately.

    Tost and Berger might now have to get on with their real job, that of encouraging the whole team to work together in pursuit of better performance, and STR might become a much better place to work as a result.

    I have no doubt that STR will have different drivers next year (another bad decision, as Toyota have proved – you should keep one for continuity and for comparison of the new with what you know), probably Bourdais and Vettel. Scott will have difficulty in finding a seat in F1 for 2008, thanks to the damage to his reputation done by a couple of incompetent jerks, and most likely will end up back in America driving Champ Cars or something similar. And the most likely outcome from all that will be that Scott proves the find of the century in America while Bourdais looks pretty useless in an STR. After all, it won’t be the first time that an open-wheel champ from the States has failed miserably when tried in F1…

    Sorry to rant, but I do get tired of the constant criticism levelled at Speed by people who obviously haven’t studied his record.

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