Start, IndyCar, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Which IndyCar drivers deserve an F1 test chance?

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McLaren has said could give an F1 test to one of its IndyCar drivers when the team returns to the championship next year.

Which IndyCar drivers would you most like to see given the chance to drive an F1 car?

2019 IndyCar drivers

Here’s a list of every IndyCar driver who’s started at least five races this year but has never race a full season of Formula 1 (so no Takuma Sato or Max Chilton):

Marco AndrettiGrandson of F1 champion Mario Andretti but has just two wins from over 200 IndyCar starts
Ed CarpenterRaces exclusively on IndyCar’s ovals making an F1 crossover unlikely
Conor DalyRaced in GP3 and GP2 and performed well in his handful of IndyCar outings this year
Scott DixonReigning IndyCar champion with five titles and 45 victories, including one at the Indy 500, to his name
Santino FerrucciLeft F2 under a cloud last year after being banned and then fired but has shone on IndyCar’s ovals since
Jack HarveyLike Daly another part-time driver who has shown potential this season
Colton HertaStunned IndyCar by winning his third start at F1 venue Circuit of the Americas in March
James HinchcliffeConfirmed 2020 McLaren IndyCar driver is popular (not just for his Raikkonen impression) but short on results this year
Ryan Hunter-ReayThe 2012 IndyCar champion has also not had a strong 2019 so far with just two rostrum finishes
Ed JonesEuroformula Open and Indy Lights champion but lasted just one season at top team Ganassi
Tony KanaanHugely experienced veteran driver, 2004 champion and one-time Indianapolis 500 winner
Charlie KimballDowngraded to a part-time racer this year, took single series win at Mid-Ohio in 2013
Matheus LeistBeat (part-timer) Lando Norris to 2016 BRDC F3 title, in second season with minnows Foyt
Josef NewgardenCould win a second IndyCar title this weekend and has great road course pedigree
Patricio O’WardReigning Indy Lights champion caught the eye of Red Bull this year
Simon PagenaudEarned Penske shot with great drives for Schmidt, won 2016 title and this year’s Indy 500
Spencer PigotFormer Indy Lights champion, often punches above the weight of the Carpenter team
Will PowerAn IndyCar and Indy 500 champion with superb one-lap pace but prone to errors and misfortune
Graham RahalSon of an IndyCar champion (and sometime F1 racer), has six IndyCar wins from almost 200 starts
Felix RosenqvistVery successful in F3 (if somewhat long in the tooth), impressing in his first IndyCar season
Alexander RossiBriefly raced in F1 with Marussia, took sensational debut Indy 500 win, series runner-up last year
Zach VeachShort on results but only in his second full season having moved to Andretti

I say

There are several IndyCar drivers whose success make them obvious choices for a crack at F1. It would be fantastic to see what the likes of Scott Dixon, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud could do in a grand prix car.

Realistically, McLaren need a driver who’s got more of their career ahead of them than behind them. That may make the likes of Josef Newgarden or Alexander Rossi more likely choices, especially as they bring the obvious commercial appeal of being American racers with them. Nor should the genuinely promising talents of Patricio O’Ward or Felix Rosenqvist be overlooked either.

You say

Which of the current IndyCar drivers most deserve an F1 test chance? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments:

Which IndyCar driver/s most deserve an F1 test chance?

  • Marco Andretti (1%)
  • Ed Carpenter (0%)
  • Conor Daly (2%)
  • Scott Dixon (10%)
  • Santino Ferrucci (1%)
  • Jack Harvey (0%)
  • Colton Herta (12%)
  • James Hinchcliffe (3%)
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay (1%)
  • Ed Jones (0%)
  • Tony Kanaan (0%)
  • Charlie Kimball (0%)
  • Matheus Leist (1%)
  • Josef Newgarden (15%)
  • Patricio O'Ward (6%)
  • Simon Pagenaud (7%)
  • Spencer Pigot (0%)
  • Will Power (6%)
  • Graham Rahal (1%)
  • Felix Rosenqvist (10%)
  • Alexander Rossi (20%)
  • Zach Veach (0%)
  • None of the above (2%)

Total Voters: 168

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Which IndyCar drivers deserve an F1 test chance?”

  1. I choose quite a few but like youself I’ve got tiere

    1,1. Colton Herta
    Im amazed you didn’t name Herta as to me he’s by far the most likley. Two poles and a win in his debut season as a teenager for a back of the grid team. No reason he’s not in a young driver program.

    1.2 Josef Newgarden & Alex Rossi
    Only his age has them ranked under Herta. The only drivers outside Dixon to be consistently good every season and won races with poor machines prior to Penske. All 3 are proven quantitys on road courses.

    3 Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal, Connor Daily & Rosenquist have enough body of work too get a testing roll to at least prove themselves.

    4. Scott Dixon, Will Power. Too late but certainty should have got a shot. Criminal Dixon didn’t!

    1. Why isn’t Alonso on that list of drivers? Absolutely baffled!

      1. It’s a Yoke, a yoke !

      2. Because you must finish a race to be classified.

      3. Hasn’t completed 1 IndyCar race yet, let alone 5.

    2. Give Dixon and Power a chance to complete their bucket list after they retire form Indy Car.

  2. Seeing that O’Ward has been hyped up in this article, I would like to ask a simple question – is he really that good?

    When you look at his racing record, whilst he has won a few titles, the competition in those series was extremely weak. Whilst he won the Prototype Challenge class in 2017, that was in a season where only three teams took part in every race, and O’Ward was one of only three drivers who even took part in every single race (and, out of the two remaining drivers who took part in every race, one of those was O’Ward’s team mate).

    When you were guaranteed a minimum of 3rd place so long as you got to the finish and when you literally have only one opponent to worry about, that is not exactly very testing in terms of skill.

    His Indy Lights title is similar – he faced a grand total of six opponents for that entire season, which I would say is not really that much of a test of skill. Were it not for his association with Red Bull, I expect that nobody here would have given any thought to O’Ward when looking at his racing record in any detail.

    Similarly, apart from his victory in Austin, has Herta’s performance over the rest of the season really been that notable?

    I do feel that there are indeed some drivers within the IndyCar field who are quite talented, but it does feel as perhaps some of those who are being hyped up are perhaps being over praised for their results. There is also something of an issue with the series being dominated by the big three teams too, with it being nearly two decades now since somebody from other than Penske, Ganassi or Andretti win the IndyCar title, such that there may be an element of the team making the driver shine rather than the driver making it through their own merits.

    1. It’s really difficult to answer your question anon but there are a lot of people (including myself) who definitely believe in Pato’s ability and want to see him get him into a decent and stable ride for a full season to see what he is capable of.

      I wouldn’t equate the size of the 2018 Indylights field with that season not being a test of skill. Pato was teammates with Herta who is showing a lot of speed (2 poles and 1 win) in his rookie Indycar season. It’s easy to say that Pato could be achieving the same results, but unless he gets a full season and actually shows it we can’t know for sure.

      Sometimes results don’t tell the whole story. When Pato has contested full seasons in whichever category, he’s done well. I think that’s enough to say that he deserves a full time ride in Indycar or even F1.

      1. @georgeod, did he really do that well whenever he contested a full season?

        In his first Formula Mazda season in 2015, he was ranked 6th in the championship and was only the fourth highest ranked rookie driver, behind drivers like Santiago Urrutia or Garett Grist. Against a significantly weaker field in 2016, he managed 2nd, but was beaten by his team mate, a rookie driver called Aaron Telitz (a driver who wasn’t rated that highly to begin with).

        His Prototype Challenge was basically won by default, as there was basically no competition for the title – IMSA scrapped that championship altogether before the end of the year because of a lack of entries. A random person off this site could have been classified joint second in that series by virtue of just turning up and finishing every race. Most of his success in junior series came in series where the standard of opposition was very weak and have since mostly dropped out of motorsport because they weren’t competitive enough to go anywhere.

        It also has to be said that, so far at least, he’s not really shown a great turn of speed in the Japanese Super Formula either, where he has two 14th places to his name. Maybe he will do better in subsequent stages but, if we’re honest, Ticktum was dropped by Red Bull for his results in the Super Formula, and O’Ward’s results so far are worse than his results were.

        Maybe he might be better than those results suggest, but right now I am not really seeing any evidence that he has shown anything truly exceptional in his performance in the series below IndyCar. It may be that he does indeed show better pace once there, but to me, right now, it’s not revealed itself so far.

        1. Just blatantly ignoring the full 2018 IndyLights season where he beat the very highly rated Herta in equal machinery … Whatever fits your narrative

          1. @hugh11, is that performance over a single season really enough to justify that much hype around him though?

            By that logic, would you conclude that Romain Grosjean is a superior driver to Nico Hulkenberg given that, when they raced together at the same team in Formula 3 and therefore had the same machinery at their disposal, Grosjean beat Hulkenberg?

            You would, no doubt, say that it is absurd and that Hulkenberg is the superior driver when looking at his long term performance and that is just cherry picking a season – but that is what it feels like you are doing with O’Ward here. To me, it feels like you are choosing to selectively quote a single season to fit the narrative that you want to paint for O’Ward.

          2. @anon In O’Ward’s defense, we say that now about Grosjean and Hulkenberg having seen them race in F1 for nearly a decade. Development drivers are, well, developing. The narrative on O’Ward wasn’t about his early junior accomplishments, which as you say were not that notable. It was that he seemed to have reached another level after his IMSA campaign, evident in both his Indy Lights championship and his early IndyCar races. O’Ward also comprehensively outperformed Herta in their IndyCar debuts by qualifying fifth at Sonoma. And some of his drives early this year for Carlin were also impressive.

            Having said that, I question in general how well success in IndyCar or its ladder correlates to success elsewhere because the tyres are so different. O’Ward will never succeed in Super Formula or F1 if he can’t adapt to the higher-deg tyres (something he struggled with in IndyCar too). And judging from some of his recent comments he may not be terribly enthused about doing so.

  3. Newgarden, Rossi, Herta, Rosenqvist.
    Dixon and Power would be if they were younger. Pagenaud is getting on a bit too.
    O’Ward is no longer in Indycar but also deserves a test – Herta has been getting all the plaudits, but in equal machinery O’Ward beat him to the IndyLights championship last season. I feel that joining various series mid-season has made him look much worse than he is, as well as driving on styles of tracks he’s never really driven on before.

    1. Sidenote: anyone voting Ferrucci can get out. On top of just being a horrible person, he’s been dreadful on any road/street courses this season, he’s only performed well at ovals. Of which there are none in F1.

  4. Rosenqvist, Rossi, Newgarden.

  5. I’m not voting, since I don’t have even superficial knowledge of these drivers, and don’t want to end up skewing the numbers (aren’t a lot of countries in trouble due to the votes they cast? 😏)

    So, just a comment… this one caught my eye:

    Matheus Leist: Beat (part-timer) Lando Norris to 2016 BRDC F3 title, in second season with minnows Foyt

    Given that we’ve seen what Norris is capable of in F1, Matheus might be someone who could be given a test run in F1.

    1. Lando only did 11/24 races and finished 8th in the championship. Not really representative of anything.

      1. @hugh11 – makes me glad I didn’t vote, without relevant context. Thank you for adding in that detail! :)

      2. If you count only those 11 races Leist still won by 256 points to 235. That’s a relevant context @phylyp @hugh11

        1. I mean, yes and no – comfort in the series is very important, especially at such a young age, so Leist taking part in every event will have an advantage over Norris just doing some events. I do think Leist is probably better than his Indycar results suggest, as AJ Foyt are just struggling so much, but you really can’t be saying he’s ready for an F1 test because he beat a current F1 driver one time 3 years ago when that driver was a part-timer in the series.

  6. Rossi, he had a couple f1 races, he impressed in the short time he spent in f1, since then he has become famous for his gutsy Indy500 races, surely he has the extra bit.
    Other drivers could have had some sort of a career in f1, there’s a few on f1’s grid that never performed well at any level.

    When you look at the performance of former european junior formula racers like Felix, you realise that felix was not good enough for f1 stardom also most of Indy would not shine. like I said half of f1 grid does not shine either.

  7. Rossi & Rosenqvist. Rossi really deserved a longer shot at F1 than what, 2 races? Rosenqvist, I find it weird that F1 teams haven’t really looked at him at all. If I was hiring for an F1 team those two would be close to the top of my list.

  8. Scott Dixon already tested for Williams years ago, so I would prefer to see Rossi or Newgarden. If McLaren is seriously looking for someone to race in F1 though Colin Herta probably has the potential many years ahead of him.

    1. Well in regards to McLaren,
      1. McLaren have already resigned both Lando and Carlos,
      2. Both drivers are holding their own (Carlos more than Lando, but he’s still young)
      3. They both have a lot of years ahead of them.

  9. 1. Felix as a fellow swede and i think we all took the wrong guy to f1.

    2. Newgarden, Fast and American and would probably be a huge draw to Cota and Mexio Gp

    3. Rossi. Also American and did good with a crappy Manor, should have a second chance

  10. I don’t have a strong opinion but went for Rossi because of how short-lived his stint at the now-defunct Manor team four years ago proved to be.

  11. My opinion of Indycar is that it is somewhere between F2 and F3 drivers’ quality-wise.
    (and I don’t care if it is shared by anyone or what anyone might think about it, so let’s skip silly attempts of discussions)

    As of that – any driver there deserves a chance trying F1. They are all good for that, and it is quite possible that some have hidden F1 potential.
    Of course it makes much more sense to test someone who has long racing future ahead of them, rather than someone who is at the end of their career (or tries to prolong it like certain Fernando).

  12. Rossi, Newgarden, Herta and may be O’Ward.

  13. Newgarden would be a winner in any seat. I rate him right up there.
    Pagenaud, Dixon, Rossi,O’Ward, Herta, Rosenqvist should all be in contention for the Panther seat(s).
    Not that they want to leave, mind you

    1. I’ll elaborate a little more on IndyCar drivers and 2021, which is when Panther is intending coming into the sport: We are moving into a formula that is closer in concept to what IndyCar is doing with the underfloor aero and cars designed to follow each other in close proximity. That’s what these guys do, at 220plus mph all day every day. They’ll have been doing it for 10 years by then with the DW12 based chassis. I certainly wouldn’t turn my attention away from such talent should it become available.
      I know we like to tout “pinnacle” and “the top 20 drivers in the world” but I would argue that there are better drivers out there in other series

  14. Ferrari should do a deal with Michael to swap Vettel with Rossi… I suppose we can all dream.

  15. Matheus Leist – Aside from winning british F3 he had a good rookie Indy Lights season and he had some shines of good performance in Indy. Foyt is making him look bad.

    Rossi – Still relatively young and always running at the front.

    Herta – Young driver with strong results in a field that some experienced drivers have a big edge over the rest of the drivers.

    1. Sorry, but Leist is terrible. He’s done nothing in IndyCar.

  16. None of them…?
    Some have had a chance to test an F1 and didn’t impress [enough]. Others haven’t impressed enough in whatever series they’ve raced in to be offered a test. Maybe one or two have been offered a test but simply don’t want to be part of the F1 circus.

    1. Yep, none of the above.
      But I voted for slightly different reasons: I hate the use of the word ‘deserve’. No one ‘deserves’ anything. Not even racing drivers.
      And let’s look at this the other way. Indy drivers compete in one of the most prominent series in the world – and all within a five hour flying time distance. There are loads of teams, loads of sponsors and (it seems) a reasonable chance that drivers will achieve success at some point or other.
      Whereas in F1, there are only 20 seats currently available, money and sponsorship are scarce and unless you get to drive for one of three or four teams, chances of success are slim at best. Plus, you will spend three-quarters of the year chasing time zones and climates around the world.
      Stay in Indy, it’s a lot easier.

  17. Intersting question since there are a number of F1 drivers that do not deserve an IndyCar test.

  18. Power is always good on proper tracks, but probably too old…

  19. Like others above I’ve selected quite a few because I think this season’s IndyCar field is very strong.

    Rossi makes my list because he is quick and I think F1 is unfinished business for him. In the right car he’d be a very effective Grand Prix driver.

    Dixon, Hinch, Power, Pagenaud and Newgarden made it as well because I’d be keen to see how these regular front runners adapted to F1.

    Herta and Rosenquist made the grade because they are both young, supremely talented and quick.

    Finally, Jones and Daly made my list because they are talented guys who seem to have to battle for every drive they get.

    Oh, and I didn’t give Ferrucci the nod because he seems like a horrid individual.

  20. It really boils down to two drivers. JoNew and Rossi. Choosing between those two JoNew should get the nod. He has been consistent in his three years at Penske. He has won about one out of four races in that time and will have a second championship in less than a week.

    Colton and Pato need more time racing before being given a chance at F1. They are both still young, so another two or three years will be of great help.

    Felix has been inconsistent. That being said he probably would have been better than Marcus.

  21. Hinchcliffe, please. I am so tired of the only Canadian on the grid, and James would represent us so much better than some pay driver.

  22. Rossi should deserve more than a 2nd test – he deserves a race seat. And same for Newgarden. I only wished if Haas F1 would have selected Colton Herta for their driver porgram.

    As far as Ferrucci goes – He will have to amass the 3-year 40-point minimum requirement to get a 2nd chance.

    And also give Oliver Askew a chance to test a car upon winning the Indy Light championship. With the $1m 3-race scholarship, a test drive with a Haas F1 car should be included.

  23. Felix of course, leading the rookies so far, and drives fast in pretty much everything. Herta would be fun aswell. Indy racers need to handle more different tracks/driving styles, and be better racers, so might not be the best indy drivers that are the best f1 drivers.

  24. And with Manny still fighting for his life, it is time to get a US driver on the grid.

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