The case for an IndyCar vs F1 all-star race

Imagine the very best of Formula 1 and IndyCar coming together to race one another. Ed Spencer takes a look at how it would work

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For over 70 years, Formula 1 and IndyCar have been the pinnacle of single-seater racing, featuring nearly all of the top drivers that have raced throughout the decades. 

At a time of growth for both championships and with IndyCar drivers criticising the FIA for their superlicence system being biased against the series following Colton Herta’s application being rejected, the time has come for scores to be settled not on Twitter but on the race track.

Now, this may be difficult in today’s 20-plus races a year calendar that both series have, but here’s why an IndyCar vs F1 all-star race would be one hell of a spectacle to watch as well as helping to determine which series is better.

Why all-star sporting events isn’t as uncommon as you think

Although the concept may seem foreign to some, the idea of having the best all on one stage isn’t so odd after all, with the Race Of Champions combining the best of all disciplines for two days of action in all kinds of cars since 1988.

ROC’s predecessor IROC also combined the best of F1, NASCAR, IndyCar and sportscars in identical cars around the best American circuits on primetime television, but the series fizzled out in 2006 following a lack of funds.

The closest non-motorsport comparison to an IndyCar vs F1 race would be when the best of Serie A played the best of the English first division in a friendly match in Naples during the 1990-91 season, with the Italians winning 3-0.

How would it work?

So now you know why it could be possible, here’s an all-star race that would work and which drivers would get selected.

The top 13 drivers in each series would be automatically entered for the race guaranteeing the participation of the cream of the F1 crop, such as Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

IndyCar will be relying on veteran superstars Will Power and Scott Dixon, who have been at the forefront of the series for more than a decade, whilst Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou and Rinus Veekay will represent the young generation.

With 28 starters for the race, two spots will be filled through a fan vote conducted online, with the two most popular drivers earning their spot on the grid.

Will Power and Scott Dixon

The car for the event would be the Onroak-Ligier S5000, currently used in the S5000 championship in Australia, as the 5.2L Ford V8 engine would challenge the drivers that are used to turbocharged engines.

Choosing a venue would be difficult, but two circuits stand out. For Europe, Monza the temple of speed, and for America, the circuit of the Americas, one of the finest race tracks on the planet.

Format-wise, it would essentially follow a mix of F1 and IndyCar’s formats, with the race being a Grand Prix distance. There would be two practice sessions on Friday before an IndyCar-style qualifying session of two groups, a fast 12 and a fast 6 setting the grid.

Why do both series need an all-star race?

The idea behind an IndyCar vs F1 race isn’t new, with Bernie Ecclestone even discussing the idea of bringing a few CART drivers to compete alongside the best of F1 in the mid-1990s, only for the idea to go south.

But things are different now, and with both series growing at home and globally, it could be beneficial for both series to promote themselves whilst showcasing the cream of their championships.

It would also be a good way of uniting both series following years of mud-slinging on Twitter about Grand Prix drivers’ hesitancy to take on the challenge of ovals, the amount of superlicence points given to IndyCar drivers and both series’ interpretation of track limits.

May 30, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; The Indy series during the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

IndyCar will also be keen to shirk its reputation as a place where washed-up F1 drivers go to extend their careers and earn respect from some paddock judges who believe that the series is of inferior quality. 

Throw in some more global exposure for both series, a hefty television audience, a massive purse fund generated by ticket revenue and the series’ main sponsors, and it slowly starts to make sense to have one for both the commercial and sporting sense.

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