IndyCar is moving closer to adopting hybrid technology similar to Formula 1, with the arrival of 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 engines with Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or KERS, replacing the 2 units , 2 liters in 2023. The wheel racing series promises to always be “fast, loud and authentic,” according to IndyCar president Jay Frye.
Over the past 50 years, there have been drivers who have gone from IndyCar to Formula 1, and vice versa. There may be key differences between the two open wheel racing series, but nonetheless, they have enjoyed relative success in both categories. Here are some of the notable drivers who have made their mark in both Formula 1 and IndyCar.
8 Romain Grosjean
Franco-Swiss driver Romain Grosjean is the latest driver to make the transition from Formula 1 to the NTT IndyCar Series. The 2011 GP2 Champion and 10-year F1 veteran now drives for Dale Coyne Racing, and has already taken pole position at the GMR Indianapolis Grand Prix as a rookie.
During his days in Formula 1, Grosjean won 10 podiums while driving for the Renault, Lotus and Haas teams. His final season in 2020 was one to remember, as he survived a terrible crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix where his Haas F1 car caught fire.
7 Mario andretti
Arguably the greatest American motorsport driver of all time, Mario Andretti made the IndyCar series, then transferred to Formula 1, and returned once again to the American Open-Wheel Series as a driver from 1964 to 1994. He was a four-time IndyCar Champion and won the Indy 500 in 1969.
He is also America’s most successful Formula 1 driver, winning the 1978 Formula 1 championship while driving for Lotus, and totaling 12 wins in 128 career starts.
6 Emerson fittipaldi
Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi was one of the most influential drivers to transition from Formula 1 to IndyCar. After retiring from F1 in 1980, Fittipaldi breathed new life into his career by winning the 1989 CART title while driving for the Penske team, and also won the Indy 500 twice, in 1989 and 1993.
Prior to his foray into the IndyCars, he was already two-time Formula 1 champion in 1972 with the Lotus team and in 1974 with McLaren, adding 14 race wins and 35 podiums in 144 career starts to his name.
5 Nigel mansell
Nigel Mansell remains the only driver to be both Formula 1 and IndyCar champion. He drove alongside Mario Andretti in the Newman / Haas team in 1993, and took pole position with a victory in his very first race as a rookie, and won four more races to become the champion of the series.
The Formula 1 title had yet to be decided when Mansell, the 1992 F1 champion, won the IndyCar title in 1993. The Englishman won 31 races and achieved 51 podiums during his highly successful F1 career. .
4 Juan Pablo Montoya
Colombian racing driver Juan Pablo Montoya is one of only two remaining active drivers to have won two stages of the Triple Crown of motorsport, namely the Indy 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Montoya was the CART IndyCar champion in 1999 as a rookie while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing and won the Indy 500 twice in 2000 and 2015.
In his Formula 1 career, he was one of Michael Schumacher’s main rivals in the early 2000s and drove for the Williams and McLaren teams from 2001 to 2006, winning seven races and finishing on the podium 30 times.
3 Rubens barrichello
Rubens Barrichello had only a short career in IndyCar. He drove for KV Racing Technology in 2012 and achieved his best Saint Petersburg Grand Prix result, finishing 12th. He also added two top-six rankings and was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.
His Formula 1 career, however, was a different story. He was one of the most experienced F1 drivers, starting 322 Grands Prix from 1993 to 2011, taking 11 wins and 68 podiums when driving for the Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn and Williams teams.
2 Alex Zanardi
Alex Zanardi was a back-to-back CART champion in 1997 and 1998, but sadly his most memorable moment came during the 2001 race at EuroSpeedway Lausitzring, where a horrific accident with Alex Tagliani caused him to lose both legs.
He drove for the Williams F1 team in 1999 but had mixed results and ended his supposed three-year contract with the Grove team at the end of that season. Nonetheless, his handicap never diminished his love for racing as he was still able to compete in WTCC and DTM years after his horrific accident.
1 Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato is one of the most successful drivers in Japan and has won the Indy 500 twice, in 2017 and the last in 2020. He is also one of the few IndyCar drivers to have won on a superspeedway. (Indianapolis), a short oval course (World Wide Technology Raceway), a permanent road course (Portland and Barber Motorsports Park) and a street circuit (Long Beach).
Sato also equaled a Japanese driver’s best result in F1 history, when he finished 3rd in the 2004 United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis, en route to his best 8th place in the championship as he was driving for British American Racing. He also drove for the Jordan and Super Aguri teams during his F1 career.
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