Six-time IndyCar champion understands the lure of bother major open-wheel series.

, Why Scott Dixon Says, 'F1 is still the pinnacle, man ... I personally prefer IndyCar'
Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

  • Six-time IndyCar champion once drove an F1 car in a one-day test back with the Williams team in 2004.
  • “I’ve always really appreciated what IndyCar is, from driving the car that it is and how raw it is and the competition is a big one,” Dixon says.
  • In his previous 21 seasons, Dixon has failed to win won at least one race per season just twice (2001 and 2004).

    Perhaps more so than ever before, IndyCar has become an attractive lure and alternative in terms of popularity, attention and on-track success for Formula 1 drivers looking to make a career change.

    This current IndyCar driver crop includes several former F1 pilots, 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 sizeable racing stable that already includes teams in IndyCar, Indy Lights, Formula E and Extreme E, IMSA, Australian Supercars and other series.

    , Why Scott Dixon Says, 'F1 is still the pinnacle, man ... I personally prefer IndyCar'

    Scott Dixon drives a test session with Williams in 2004.

    Getty ImagesGetty Images

    While he once drove an F1 car in a one-day test back with the Williams team in 2004, six-time IndyCar champ Scott Dixon has been a longtime observer of what goes on in F1. He appreciates and understands the series, and even admires it in many ways.

    But Dixon also sees the lure of why F1 drivers are coming to the U.S. to try their hand at IndyCar racing.

    “I’ve always really appreciated what IndyCar is, from driving the car that it is and how raw it is and the competition is a big one,” Dixon replied when asked by Autoweek. “And I think it’s been a big draw for most of the Europeans that come in this direction, knowing that if they get into a small team, which, really, the small teams are gone these days. The budgets are fairly sizable for everybody to achieve and run competitively. So I think that’s been the draw that they can come over and race fairly with the whole field. And we’ve seen how successful that’s been, for many of them that come over.”

    , Why Scott Dixon Says, 'F1 is still the pinnacle, man ... I personally prefer IndyCar'

    A rear suspension failure ended Scott Dixon’s 2004 F1 test a little early.

    CESAR RANGELGetty Images

    But IndyCar is still a distant second to F1 in terms of money, TV attention, at-track attendance and just sheer overall popularity.

    “You know, F1 is still the pinnacle man,” Dixon said. “You look at the sheer size of it, the sheer revenue, the TV numbers, you know, it’s the prize. As far as a purist and loving IndyCar for what it is and how competitive is and how fun the cars are and the cool tracks we get to go to, I personally prefer IndyCar.

    “But then you look at just the sheer size and popularity and some of the cool machinery that Formula 1 has, you know that’s a different topic. I was lucky enough to drive one of them in the early 2000s. But, yeah, it’s kind of a hard question to answer, I think yes and no, I don’t know. That’s a tough one.”

    Dixon has been racing in IndyCar since the age of 20. He turns 42 on July 22 and is in his 22 year in the series.

    Asked hypothetically, when he and team owner Chip Ganassi decide to part ways, would he consider giving F1 a try, even being at an advanced age, Dixon laughed and then quipped:

    “I don’t know who would be crazier, the F1 team or myself. That’s a pretty big hypothetical. What it comes down to for me is just my pure love for racing. So if there was an opportunity that was hard to turn down, , you know, turned down, of course, I would have a crack at it. But I love what I’m doing.”

    , Why Scott Dixon Says, 'F1 is still the pinnacle, man ... I personally prefer IndyCar'

    Scott Dixon, here leading at Indy, says the competition in IndyCar is unmatched.

    Icon SportswireGetty Images

    Admittedly, it’s been somewhat of a difficult campaign for Dixon thus far in 2022, as he is winless through the first eight races of the 17-race schedule, with just one podium. 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 enjoying one of the closest 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 can ever recall a tighter championship race at this point of the season, Dixon replied, “Probably not. It’s been kind of a strange year, where typically 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 how these 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 does mix it up, which is great from a perspective of going down to the wire. But yeah, it’s kind of crazy, considering how each person probably looks at the year and it hasn’t gone as well as they would have hoped.

    , Why Scott Dixon Says, 'F1 is still the pinnacle, man ... I personally prefer IndyCar'

    Scott Dixon is still one championship shy of the great A.J. Foyt on the IndyCar all-time list.

    Jamie SquireGetty Images

    “Nobody 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’s failed to win won at least one race per season just twice (2001 and 2004).

    That’s why he’s looking so forward to this nine-race summer stretch. No one has to tell him what’s at stake and why getting back on-track with multiple wins would help him potentially earn his seventh IndyCar championship, tying him with legendary A.J. Foyt for most IndyCar titles.

    “We need to (get going), I guess, is the obvious answer,” Dixon chuckled. “I was hoping that the Indy 500 was going to be that turn and kick that we needed. Yeah, it’s been an interesting year, lots of ups and downs, and some missed opportunities.

    “As a group and as a team, we just haven’t been getting the job done. So, we’ll keep we’ll keep after it. Luckily, Marcus (Ericsson) has had a fantastic run leading the points right now, Alex (Palou) has had a little bit of bad luck. And just hoping for the whole team, we can get our head down here and fight for another championship for Chip.”

    While Dixon said he still plans on racing for several more years for Ganassi, rumors have recently circulated that he’s been offered a leadership role with rival organization Arrow McLaren SP once he retires.

    Dixon denied those reports, saying he plans on staying with Ganassi through the end of his career, however many more seasons that may be.

    “I haven’t been a part of any of these conversations,” Dixon said flatly. “So I’m not really sure where a lot of these things come from. Obviously, people talk. I even got a few messages from people asking about the same thing. But if people are having these conversations, I haven’t been a part of them.

    “So, for me, I love doing what I’m doing. I love being part of the team that I’m with. Who knows what comes in the future. But as of right now, we’re just focusing on this season and that’s all I’ve got to say. Really. there’s nothing to it.”

    When asked if he’s given thought to his post-racing career and what he might want to do, Dixon again demurred.

    “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 the decision from one year to the next as opposed to looking five years down the road or more. … The possibilities after I’m done, trust me, I’d love to still be a part of the sport.

    “What that means and in what capacity, I have really 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 a part of for many more years, but as of right now, it’s not on my radar.”

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