- A six-time IndyCar champion, he drove an F1 car in a one-day test with the Williams team in 2004.
- “I’ve always really enjoyed what IndyCar is, driving the car it is and how raw it is and the competition is great,” Dixon said.
- In his previous 21 seasons, Dixon failed to win at least one race per season only twice (2001 and 2004).
Perhaps more than ever, IndyCar has become an attractive lure and alternative in terms of popularity, attention and on-track success for Formula 1 drivers looking to change careers.
This current generation of IndyCar drivers includes several former F1 drivers, including this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato. And at the same time, several other current IndyCar drivers have been mentioned as potentially moving to F1 in the near future, including Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward.
Even IndyCar team owner Michael Andretti is reportedly working on adding an F1 team to his large racing stable which already includes teams from IndyCar, Indy Lights, Formula E and Extreme E, IMSA, Australian Supercars and other series.
Having once driven an F1 car in a one-day test with the Williams team in 2004, six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon is a long-time observer of what happens in F1. He appreciates and understands the series, and even admires it in many ways.
But Dixon also sees why F1 drivers come to the United States to try their hand at IndyCar racing.
“I’ve always really enjoyed what IndyCar is, driving the car that it is and how raw it is and the competition is great,” Dixon replied when asked by Automatic week. “And I think that’s been a big draw for most Europeans coming in that direction, knowing that if they go into a small team, which, really, small teams are gone these days. Budgets are big enough for everyone to reach and handle them competitively so I think that’s the draw that they can come in and race fairly with the whole peloton and we’ve seen how it has succeeded, for many of them who come.
But IndyCar is still far behind F1 in terms of money, TV attention, track attendance and sheer overall popularity.
“You know, F1 is always the point man,” Dixon said. “You look at the sheer size of it, the pure revenue, the TV numbers, you know, that’s the price. As far as a purist, loving IndyCar for what it is and how great it is competitive and how fun the cars are and the cool tracks we can go to, I personally prefer IndyCar.
“But if you just look at the size and popularity and some of the cool machines that Formula 1 has, you know that’s a different topic. I was lucky enough to drive one in the early 2000s. But , yes, that’s a difficult question to answer, I think yes and no, I don’t know.
Dixon has been racing IndyCar since he was 20 years old. He turns 42 on July 22 and is in his 22nd year on the show.
When asked hypothetically, when he and team owner Chip Ganassi would decide to part ways, would he consider trying F1, even at an advanced age, Dixon laughed and then joked:
“I don’t know who would be crazier, the F1 team or myself. That’s a pretty big guess. For me, it comes down to my pure love for racing. So if there was an opportunity that’s hard to turn down, you know, turned down, sure, I’d get a chance. But I love what I do.”
Admittedly, the campaign has been somewhat difficult for Dixon so far in 2022, as he is winless in the first eight races of the 17-race schedule, with only one podium finish. He’s currently sixth in the driver standings, 69 points behind series leader and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson.
In fact, IndyCar is having one of the tightest championship battles it has ever seen, with just 97 points separating the top 11 drivers heading into this weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
When asked if he remembers ever having a closer championship run at this stage of the season, Dixon replied: “Probably not. It’s been a bit of a weird year, where usually at this point there’s been a runaway of some point, whether it’s one or two drivers or a big gap.
“I think with the way those weekends are and how easy it is to qualify at the front one weekend and then qualify at the back the next weekend, it really mixes up things which is great from a yarn standpoint but yeah it’s kinda crazy considering how every person probably looks at the year and it didn’t go as well as they would have hoped.
“No one has had a super smooth year. Look at Joseph (Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden). He’s won three races and he’s not even leading the points (he’s currently third, 32 points behind Ericsson).
With nine races remaining, Dixon hopes to extend one of the most impressive parts of his career: in his previous 21 seasons, he failed to win at least one race per season twice (2001 and 2004). .
That’s why he’s looking forward to this nine-race summer streak. No one has to tell him what’s at stake and why getting back on track with multiple wins would potentially help him claim his seventh IndyCar championship, tying him with the legendary AJ Foyt for most IndyCar titles.
“We have to (go), I guess, is the obvious answer,” laughed Dixon. “I was hoping the Indy 500 was going to be that corner and that kick that we needed. Yes, it’s been an interesting year, with lots of ups and downs, and a few missed opportunities.
“As a group and as a team, we just didn’t get the job done. So we’ll keep, we’ll keep after that. Luckily Marcus (Ericsson) has had a fantastic run leading the points at the moment, Alex (Palou) had a bit of bad luck. And just hoping for the whole team, we can put our heads down here and fight for another championship for Chip.
While Dixon has said he still plans to race for several more years for Ganassi, rumors have recently swirled that he has been offered a management role with rival organization Arrow McLaren SP once he takes over. his retirement.
Dixon denied the reports, saying he planned to stay with Ganassi until the end of his career, regardless of how many more seasons that might be.
“I wasn’t part of any of those conversations,” Dixon said flatly. “So I don’t really know where a lot of these things are coming from. Obviously people are talking. I’ve even gotten a few messages from people asking the same thing. But if people are having these conversations, I don’t. not part.
“So for me, I love doing what I do. I love being part of the team I’m with. Who knows what comes in the future. But at the moment we are only focusing on this season and that’s all I have to say. Really. there is nothing special.”
When asked if he had thought about his career after the race and what he might want to do, Dixon again hesitated.
“It’s hard to really comment,” he said. “I think for me, I don’t see giving up anytime soon. I feel like in motorsport it’s hard to make a decision year on year instead of looking at five or more years. … The possibilities after I finish, believe me, I would like to continue being part of the sport.
“What that means and in what capacity, I really have no idea. But I love the sport. It’s been my passion since I was five or six years old. So it’s definitely something I want to be part of it for many more years, but right now it’s not on my radar.
Follow Automatic week contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski
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