Can we stop pushing INDYCAR stars to F1?

INDIANAPOLIS — The NTT IndyCar Series’ future is now. Three of their four race winners in 2021 are all 24 years of age or younger. In fact, a pair of 21 year old drivers have already won in Colton Herta (St. Pete) and Pato O’Ward (Texas). The problem now is, both have shown their emergence on the scene and fans are already starting to push them out the door too.  

We can recognize and appreciate the talent that is for Herta and O’Ward. One just turned 21 while the other will be 22 in a couple of days. They’re damned good and also with big teams now too with Andretti (Herta) and Arrow McLaren SP (O’Ward). If they stay there, there’s no reason to believe that these two can’t be mega stars here in the United States and to help usher this series into a new, brighter era. They’re the next big wave that we’ve been waiting for. Young, brash, confident and best of all, winners. 

We all fell in love with the Unser’s, Foyt’s, Andretti’s, etc. Well here we have Herta, O’Ward, Newgarden, Rossi, etc. right in front of our faces. With more and more success, instead of being grateful for what we’ve got, we’re instead asking them why they don’t look back at F1 again?

Since when is F1 better than INDYCAR? These are athletes and athletes are wired to win. You have a far better shot of winning here than overseas. I get the money and technology notion.

I get the notion that F1 is on a world stage and that F1 people point to INDYCAR as a spec series. But, I’d take more INDYCAR drivers over F1 drivers in the talent pool right now. I know F1 fans overseas are going to think I’m crazy, but I think most fans over here would agree with me.

The reality of it all is, unless you’re with Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari, what’s the point of even racing in F1? You have virtually no shot of winning on skill if you don’t drive for them. None. 

Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull combined to win 146 straight races at one point of this recent era. They won the final 18 races of 2013 and the first 128 races of the hybrid era.

Yawn.

That’s not racing to most. That’s just the bigger teams dominating against the rest. It gets redundant to watch.

Also, you could really pick Mercedes as the winner among those three too. Out of the last 139 F1 races, they’ve won 104 of them (75%). Ferrari is next best at 17.

Yes, 1st among all race wins in the hybrid era is 104. Second is 17. Bigger yawn.

That’s allowed Mercedes to win literally every championship since 2014.

That has me wondering why we’re bringing up F1 in the first place. I have nothing against F1. The Netflix series worked on me as it’s becoming appointment TV. But, I also find myself not paying a whole hell of a lot of attention past the opening few laps too.

Which leads me to my initial question, why would they want to go over there to begin with? O’Ward did give his reason following his maiden win in Indy Car on Sunday. 

“You know what, Formula 1 is the peak of technology,” he said. “Everybody wants to go there. If the opportunity ever came by Zak, he said there’s a seat open, I want you in my team, I’d be pretty dumb not to take it because it would just be a crazy opportunity. They don’t come often.”

He has an in with McLaren and it would make sense, but you also have to listen to what else he said too. 

“Man, I mean, like I said, my heart’s with INDYCAR,” he continued. “It’s just great racing and it’s so, so competitive. I think for a driver there is nothing harder in the world. I think many drivers can agree with me that have come from Formula 1 to INDYCAR, back to Formula 1.

“Right now I’m focused on the job that I have right now in INDYCAR. I want to make the best of it.”

Don’t ignore the fact that he said “it’s just great racing and it’s so, so competitive.” That’s what drives everyone to INDYCAR in the first place. That’s why when these “F1 castoffs” from what some call them, smile so big when they first get out of an INDYCAR. 

The reason that they didn’t work out in F1 wasn’t due to the lack of talent. They don’t just magically suck all the sudden. The real reason that they didn’t work out in F1 is because they didn’t drive for one of the big three teams. That’s the real talk that as soon as race fans come to grips with reality that they’d see that’s the problem with these drivers coming 

So, why go overseas if you’re O’Ward or Herta to run for a team not of Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari? The odds of them landing one of those seats are slim. Why go over there to race for the back end of the podium or just be happy with a top five when they can compete for race wins and championships in a far better and more competitive series here?

Yes, money is larger but how long will the be over there before needing to come back over here due to the lack of success? It didn’t mean that they ran out of talent, it meant that they never had a fighting chance. They’re just fine here and selfishly I hope they get to spend the next two decades battling for race wins and championships. 

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