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Mario: Next Andretti in F1 can`t come soon enough.

by Russell Atkins

American motor racing legend Mario Andretti has predicted it is only a matter of time before his grandson Marco keeps up a proud family tradition – by making the leap across the Pond into Formula 1.

The 1978 world champion spent the best part of 14 years in the top flight, and was followed by his son Michael, who competed for McLaren as team-mate to the late, great Ayrton Senna for the majority of the 1993 campaign. Now it would seem to be the turn of Michael's 20-year-old son Marco – currently participating in the Indycar Series for Andretti Green Racing – to take the plunge, following a series of encouraging tests for Honda F1 during the 2006-07 winter off-season.

“I think Formula 1 is where Marco's mindset is ultimately,” Mario told Crash.net during the recent nostalgic GPlive celebration at Donington Park. “It will be a matter of timing and a matter of opportunity. We will see how it unfolds, but for me it couldn't happen soon enough.”

Although not a nation with a particularly sparkling record in grand prix circles – Andretti and 1961 world champion Phil Hill apart – the Stars and Stripes flag is nevertheless represented on the grid in 2007 by Scott Speed at Scuderia Toro Rosso. Andretti said he was keeping a special note of his countryman's fortunes throughout the year.

“Of course I'm watching that with interest,” he affirmed. “Scott is having a bit of a tough time of things where he is at the moment, but I wish him well.”

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