Six IndyCar drivers we’d love to see racing in Formula 1

Michelle Foster
亚历克斯守望,帕托O 'Ward和罗曼Grosjean.

亚历克斯守望,帕托O 'Ward和罗曼Grosjean side-by-side.

IndyCar’s silly season has reached fever pitch with championship leader Alex Palou linked to an exit from the sport in favour of Formula 1.

Reportedly having caught the attention of AlphaTauri and Williams, Palou, unlike AT’s last IndyCar target Colton Herta, holds the necessary FIA superlicence points in part due to his 2021 title and holds the key to IndyCar’s driver market.

The championship leader’s Chip Ganassi Racing contract expires at the end of this season and it has been said September is the deadline for him to choose – America or F1, if of course, F1 is genuinely knocking. But he’s just one of the IndyCar stars would love to see racing in the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’.

Alex Palou

IndyCar championship leader Alex Palou has been linked with two Formula 1 teams over a possible race seat for 2024 with AlphaTauri and Williams both said to be in conversation with his management “at some level” as per The Race.

It briefly looked last year as if he could be Formula 1-bound with McLaren only to find himself in the middle of a contract saga that ultimately ended with his re-committing to Chip Ganassi for 2023.

2024, though, has yet to be decided on.

From GP3 to Formula 2, Palou showed throughout his junior career sparks of talent but it was never quite enough to ignite a Formula 1 team’s interest. And then he moved to America.

Joining the series in 2020 with Dale Coyne Racing before moving over to Chip Ganassi Racing where he has spent the past three seasons, Palou won the series in 2021 while this year he has bounced back from a difficult 2022 season to again sit at the top of the standings.

Leading this year’s IndyCar series by 477 to Josef Newgarden’s 397, it’s clear to see why the 26-year-old is creating headlines not only in IndyCar but also F1. Catching the attention of McLaren CEO Zak Brown, Palou tested for the team in 2022 in FP1 at the United States GP before signing a contract that Ganassi disputed.

As the saga played out, Palou recommitted to Ganassi for 2023 but was given leeway to also be McLaren’s official reserve driver, putting the former F2 racer back on the Formula 1 watch list.

According to reports the Spaniard had a July deadline to call time on his McLaren reserve role if, and only if, he found a Formula 1 race seat for 2024. That has not been confirmed or denied, but the rumours he’s in talks with AlphaTauri and Williams continue.

And unlike the last IndyCar driver AlphaTauri wanted to sign, Colton Herta, Palou has the necessary superlicence points to compete in Formula 1. recommends

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Pato O’Ward

Another IndyCar driver with a McLaren F1 link, Pato O’Ward’s connection is even stronger given he races for the Woking company in IndyCar.

Taking part in several tests for the Formula 1 team, including a Friday run at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 24-year-old brings with him heaps of talent – and personality to match as he’s arguably one of the most likeable chaps on the American grid.

Involved in a few incidents this season with Marcus Ericsson unhappy with his antics at the Indianapolis 500 and stalwart Scott Dixon telling him the “gloves are off” after their Long Beach clash, O’Ward calmly replied to the latter: “Sorry you feel that way but I don’t agree.”

An old head on young shoulders, O’Ward admits the F1 dream still burns brightly: “I grew up watching Formula 1 and I grew up with the F1 dream as many other drivers around the world.”

He also admits that at 24 years of age, “the window of getting to Formula 1 is quite a bit narrower.”

Rinus VeeKay

Despite being just 22 years of age, Dutch driver Rinus VeeKay – born ‘Rinus van Kalmthout’ – has shown himself to a talented racer, only the car doesn’t allow him to get the results he always deserves.

在第一个赛季敲定一个讲台网格back in 2020 with a third-place finish at the second of the Harvest Grand Prix races, he followed that up a year later with a first win at the IMS GMR Grand Prix, and in his third season added another podium, this time P3 in Alabama.

Known for his storming drives and undercut strategies, VeeKay has been billed as a “rare” talent by Ed Carpenter Racing technical director Matt Barnes.

But while consistency is still lacking, former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean speaks highly of Veekay: “He pushes, I like that, he’s hungry for victory.”

Callum Ilott / Christian Lundgaard

Past Formula 1 hopefuls who came so very, very close to realising the Formula 1 dream only to have it snatched from them, Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard both swapped Europe for America.

British racer Ilott was a Red Bull junior in his early teens before swapping over to Ferrari where with ART Grand Prix he finished third in the 2018 GP3 series.

Stepping up into Formula 2 with the Sauber team and UNI-Virtuosi Racing, with whom he finished P2 in the Drivers’ standings, Ilott was a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo, Haas, and Ferrari, and although he was linked to race seats with the Ferrari-powered teams when all was said and done he was left having to look at other options.

In 2022 he announced he’d parted ways with Scuderia and was heading to IndyCar Series to race for Juncos Hollinger Racing.

For Christian Lundgaard it was a similar story with time in Formula 2, an Alpine reserve role, and still nothing when it came down to it. He now races for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing where this year he won the Honda Indy Toronto.

At just 24 and 22 respectively, the Formula 1 door is by no means shut on Ilott and Lundgaard but that opening is very, very small.

Romain Grosjean

13th in this year’s championship with only two podiums to his tally, back-to-back P2s in Long Beach and Barber, some believe motor racing’s ‘Phoenix’ isn’t deserving of anything but a good, sharp kick in the butt.

We beg to differ.

Walking away from Formula 1 in heart-breaking, and painful, circumstances when he was forced to miss the end of the 2020 season after suffering severe burns when his Haas caught fire at the Sakhir circuit, Grosjean did what Grosjean does and picked himself up.

A driver ridiculed during his early F1 days for his crashes, even banned for one race for causing a multi-car collision at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix in his first full season on the grid, if there’s one thing you can say about the Frenchman it is that he has always shown fighting spirit. Rivals would argue too much, fans would say bravo.

Ousted from F1 and with a reputation as an aggressive/unpredictable/chaotic driver dogging him, he joined America’s IndyCar series with Dayle Coyne Racing and grabbed three podium results, and one pole position, in his debut campaign. Who can forget the celebrations as he nailed his first pole position in five years.

Whether it’s personality, attitude, or just the desire of a man who was given a second chance at life, Formula 1 could do with a Romain Grosjean on the grid.

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