IndyCar’s F-ing F1 Invasion, Part 1

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An invasion is taking place in the U.S. and for once it has nothing to do with the southern border. Rather, racers from far flung Formula 1 shores threaten to take over the American open wheel scene at an astonishing rate. The question is, what to make of this f-ing F1 invasion flooding the IndyCar series?

American Alexander Rossi (where’s Martini?) is only the latest in a long line of F1 invaders currently in the IndyCar series, including fellow rookie Max Chilton from England and veterans like Frenchman Sebastien “butterfingers” Bourdais, Takuma “take ’em out” Sato from Japan, and Colombian Juan “too stupid” Montoya. F-ing F1 intruders will make up a quarter of the field this year, with totals possibly rising even higher for the historic 100th Indy 500.

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That’s not counting former drivers like Italian Luca Filippi who tested for F1, started eighteen IndyCar races (finishing a high of second) and may yet return to the mix, or the late British veteran Justin Wilson. Plus, there’s a real possibility of the unfortunately named Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado upping the total to six former F1 faces in the series, or nearly a third of the field (that’s almost thirty three percent for NASCAR fans). Unsettlingly, rumors abound of still more interlopers venturing over in the years ahead as fabulously pricey F1 opportunities dry up.

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There are plenty of other F1 connections to IndyCar too, such as Charlie Kimball‘s dad who worked in F1, Mario Andretti with his 1978 F1 championship and his son Michael’s abysmal, crash marred F1 run in 1993. Marco’s contention that his dad was “sabotaged” is typically silly, immature and stupid – on top of which he says he’d still like to try the European based, ridiculously expensive series. Maybe Marco should try succeeding in IndyCar first.

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The invasion is so widespread that it’s even reached the on air “talent” portion of the series. In his long career, 1998 Indy 500 winner and ABC IndyCar announcer Eddie Cheever started more F1 races than any other American, although in over decade of F1 racing he never won a race or a pole. Indubitably the F1 influence is everywhere in IndyCar.

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There’s a long if not rich history of Formula 1 drivers involved in IndyCar. Brazilian Rubens Barrichello – who made the most starts in F1 history and won eleven of them – made an ill fated foray into IndyCar in 2012 with KV Racing, managing a best finish of fourth. Others have enjoyed more success, including F1 champ Emerson “proboscis” Fittipaldi who won the Indianapolis 500 for Roger Penske in 1989 and 1993. It rarely ends well for the formula racers, though – the orange juice loving Brazilian failed to even qualify in his final appearance at the Brickyard in 1995. Ah, the good old days.

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Fellow F1 champ Nigel Mansell competed twice in the Indy 500 but his best finish was third, finishing behind fellow F1 interloper Fittipaldi in 1993. It’s safe to say Nige’s IndyCar efforts didn’t end well either, as they came to a crashing halt in 1994. Tellingly, Mario Andretti called the abrupt Englishman “the worst” teammate he’s ever had. From a man who raced in multiple series for decades – and had his son Michael as a stable mate – that’s saying something.

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In part 2, IRR examines the current crop of F1 drivers invading IndyCar, their shocking inexperience and lackluster records as well as the disturbing dearth of overseas oval tracks.

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