Jonathan Summerton has been widely tipped to become America’s next F1 hope. He has been repeatedly linked with a seat at newcomers USF1, and has plenty of single seater experience to back it up. He is the current Formula Atlantic vice champion, losing the title on a tie breaker. As with all drivers in his situation, he has reached a crossroads in his career.
TCF talked to him about his career past, present and future, which may well include USF1 if it all goes to plan for the young American.
TCF: What got you interested in racing in the first place?
JS: RC cars! I really enjoyed racing them and setting them up, and I also loved exotic cars ever since I could read.
TCF: Do you think that there is a lot of pressure on talented young drivers to win races at the highest level straight away?
JS: Not really. Sometimes sponsors and people who don’t understand the sport expect that, but most people I have talked to understand these things and know you are always doing your best, and sometimes just luck doesn’t go your way.
TCF: You had a pretty successful stint in A1GP, so is it disappointing to see the series in its current circumstances?
JS: Yes. I really enjoyed the series and to be the only American to win a race for the team when names like Scott Speed, Buddy Rice, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter Reay raced in it too, it was great. It was very close racing and there was lots of car control involved. I really enjoyed meeting all the fans and the experiences around the world.
TCF: How did it feel to finish runner-up in the Formula Atlantic series losing out on a tiebreaker alone, to your team-mate no less?
JS: It was disappointing that it came down to second place finishes and not pole positions, as I had 5, but those were the rules. I was very pleased to have helped the team and have been as strong as we were, but of course disappointed. I know starting the season with testing and with the team we would have won the championship sooner and I could have done it.
TCF: What are your thoughts on the USF1 team?
JS: They are working hard. I have been in touch with them since December last year and been working very closely with them and things are good so far, but we will see what comes. The current economic climate is not making things easy though.
TCF: Do you think you will be involved with USF1 in some capacity in the near future?
JS: I certainly hope so. It has always been a dream of mine to be in F1, and become World Champion. To do it representing America and making it all the way to the top with the support of fans and helpful team owners it would be great. I couldn’t have made it as far as I am today without the press, team owners and fans I have had as it has been very hard, so to be in F1 would be amazing.
TCF: Do you see the Indycar Series as the pinnacle of a career, or do you feel it has become more a stepping stone to an F1 drive, especially with USF1 on the horizon?
JS: It basically depends on which route you want to go. Either one to me would be great to be involved in, as they are great series. But F1 has always been my goal and I will not lose sight of it.
TCF: Why do you think America hasn’t had so much success in Formula One of late?
JS: It is really to do with the chances they have been given in the sport. There haven’t been many given the opportunity to progress and the ones that have received it have not been ready or just not been in the right team to win. I would love to be given the chance to see how I can do and show that we can produce good drivers.
TCF: So what options are you looking at for next year?
JS: I have a number of options, but basically whatever I can get a ride in. I would love to do F1 but have other options in IndyCar, F2, and GP2. It all depends if I can find the sponsorship or I am given the opportunity.
TCF: Do you have any career aspirations outside of Formula One?
JS: Well it depends, as I have always wanted to form a charity for helping out with Give Kids The World but Formula One as my career is really has my eye.
TCF: And finally, what would you say is your greatest achievement in motor sport to date?
JS: I would have to say my win in A1GP for Team USA. It was amazing to win against some of the top racers in the world and represent your country.