IndyCar Overtakes F1

The opening paragraph of a Formula 1 article on yesterday from Tom Errington:

Only five overtakes were completed in the season-opening race following the first lap and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said he would have turned the TV off rather than watch a “worthless” Grand Prix.

I’m not even sure how I came across this, because I never bother to follow F1 — for this very reason. But as soon as I read this, my brain instantly went into comparison mode.

The story was much different when the Verizon IndyCar Series began its season on the tight confines of the streets of St. Petersburg.

And that was at halfway! There ended up being 366 passes during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Granted, the St. Petersburg race lasted longer than F1’s Australian Grand Prix by measures like these…

  • 110 laps vs. 58
  • 198 miles vs. 191
  • 2:17:48 duration vs. 1:29.33

… but it’s not like the comparison of total passes seen during these two races is even remotely close.

Even as someone who purposefully avoids F1 because it lacks action, I would’ve guessed that at least several dozen passes were completed during the Australia race, especially with the 366 number from the tiny St. Pete circuit in my head.

What’s even better is that F1 tried to avoid this. Here’s the second paragraph of Errington’s piece:

It came despite the fact the Albert Park track, known for being difficult to pass on, was bolstered with a third DRS zone in the hope of improving the wheel-to-wheel action.

There has to be wheel-to-wheel action already for it to be improved upon, I’d argue. But the fact that the planet’s major open-wheel racing championship had to “bolster” the venue where it began its season with a gimmick — adding a new stretch of the track where drivers could activate the aerodynamic drag reduction system (DRS) — only makes me feel better about the state of IndyCar versus the state of F1.

Even with an attempt to artificially improve the product, it’s clear that F1’s season-opening contest was no match for IndyCar’s.

Takuma Sato enters pit box in St. Pete
Also, who’s ever this close to an F1 car during a pit stop? Or in the paddock? Or ever?

Sure, there was the disappointing end when Alexander Rossi punted Robert Wickens at Turn 1 on a restart, but the end of that race saw brief full-course caution periods give way to satisfyingly quick returns to green-flag racing, keeping the excitement of pure racing going.

INDYCAR can’t help but feel good about all of its storylines and all of their decisions that have created the storylines and subsequent buzz. In another article by Errington, Mario Andretti agrees.

The most important pass here is the one IndyCar has made on F1. It can’t be denied and any argument for F1 — or against IndyCar — I think would be received as ridiculous.

Published by Aaron Durant

Writer, podcaster and reader, which makes me sound cooler than some would say I am. Race cars, books, coffee and French toast are a few of my favorite things.

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