IndyCar Champ Josef Newgarden Really Wants a Shot at F1
Is it time for another American driver in Formula 1?
Team Penske driver and 2017 IndyCar champion, Josef Newgarden, impressed the racing community by taking home the title in his first season with the legendary racing crew. His success as a 26-year-old in the crowded series field not only showed his talent but also his determination, transcending the ranks and capturing the attention of many across motorsport. After spending some time in the F1 paddock this past weekend in Austin, Newgarden announced that his passion for the sport had been "reignited" and he believes that time is on his side to make the switch over in the future.
When discussing his plans for 2018 with ESPN, Newgarden revealed that his first priority is to defend his championship while also shooting for a win at the Indy 500. However, if he can achieve both of those goals in the next few years, he could see himself aiming for a seat in F1.
I've got to understand where I am at," Newgarden told ESPN. "I'm in the best situation I could ever possibly dream of in the American side.
"With IndyCar, with American racing, you can't beat Team Penske. Even on a global scale, they are arguably one of the greatest motorsport teams in all of history. You look at that and you say, 'Well, I'm in a phenomenal position.' The IndyCar series, to me, is a really great one now it's on the up, it's got great competition, but absolutely, Formula One, I'd love to try it."
The addition of Newgarden to the Formula One grid could be momentous for the sport's popularity in America. The drivers' field has lacked American representation since Alexander Rossi competed in five races two years ago before making a permanent move to IndyCar in 2016. F1 owners Liberty Media have made their intentions clear for the U.S. market as they look to push harder for development in the States than ex-supremo Bernie Ecclestone did in the past–but would they welcome Newgarden, a relatively inexperienced driver to the lineup?
"I think you've got to look at it in terms of years. I'm still young enough where it's possible to go do that. If you hopefully make it to 40, 42 in motorsports," Newgarden explained. "When you're 26 there's still time to move around a bit right now. I would definitely be open to moving over to here and this side of the world for a little bit, but my end goal would probably be to come back to IndyCar if that happened."
Newgarden reiterated that these plans are only tentative, but he has an undoubted interest in the series. His immediate focus remains on IndyCar, and with time left on his contract with Team Penske, he won't be looking to sever ties before his time is due.
"You never know how these things shake out. For me, I'm focused on IndyCar and working for Team Penske. That's my gig, and I'm very happy with it. But if something could be worked out in Formula One, I would absolutely look at it and try to make it happen."