Marco states his aims

Marco Andretti will climb aboard a Honda F1 car today in Jerez, Spain, marking the return of America's most famous racing name to F1 for the first time since 1993, when his father Michael departed McLaren in less than happy circumstances. But those with longer memories will remember back to the end of 1968 when his grandfather Mario arrived in F1 with a bang and put a Ferrari on pole position in his first race. He went on to win the World Championship in 1978 with Team Lotus and continued to appear on and off until the end of 1982. With such a heritage it is only natural that young Marco, already a star in the United States, would want to follow his family's footsteps into F1. His grandfather seems to support that idea but his father - who burned his fingers in Grand Prix racing - is being a little more cautious. Marco, however, shares one other Andretti fixation - winning the Indianapolis 500, a race which has escaped all the Andrettis since Mario won in 1969 at the wheel of a Granatelli Hawk-Ford. Michael is still racing each year in the hope that one day his luck will change and Marco was right there at the end last year but lost out to Sam Hornish Jr in the dash to the line.

At 19 Marco has plenty of time to add to the Andretti legend and admits that F1 is part of that dream. He has two years to go with Andretti Green Racing in the Indy Racing League and hopes to win the 500 either in 2007 or 2008. After that F1 is his next target.

The secret of building interest in F1 in any country is to have a winning driver. As we have seen in Britain with Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill, in France with Alain Prost, Germany with Michael Schumacher and Spain with Fernando Alonso, success is the key to a booming sport.

F1's dreams of making it big in America will rest - to a lesser or greater extent - on the shoulders on Marco Andretti.

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