IndyCar teams eyeing out-of-work F1 talents

Fernando Alonso is not the only former or current Formula 1 driver being considered by IndyCar team owners seeking to bolster their line-ups for 2019.

IndyCar teams eyeing out-of-work F1 talents

Stoffel Vandoorne, Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein are all on the shortlists of various team owners as they cast around for options.

Vandoorne is in his second year racing for McLaren in Formula 1, but was informed last month that he’s to be replaced by rookie Lando Norris. The Belgian ace, who won the 2015 GP2 title, appears to have no options available to him in F1 for next year, and has had initial talks with Dale Coyne.

“We've talked to him, although I don't know where it will lead, if anywhere,” Coyne told Motorsport.com. “But I'd say he's cautiously interested.”

Asked if the discussions have been for the whole IndyCar season or just the road and street courses, Coyne replied: "The whole season, yeah."

On the subject of whether Robert Wickens' huge Pocono accident had affected how Europeans perceived the dangers of IndyCar, Coyne replied: "It's affected all of us, hasn't it? I mean, people understand about laying it all on the line for the Indy 500 and everything that comes with it. But racing in front of 12,000 people at 220mph at some of these other tracks, it's fair to ask what we're doing, why we're doing it."

Coyne admitted he is also very interested in current Force India ace Esteban Ocon, who currently lies 11th in the F1 points table, but appears to have no attractive options in F1 next year. The 22-year-old Frenchman won the 2014 European Formula 3 and 2015 GP3 championships.

However, Ocon remains under contract to Mercedes-Benz which may cause complications, whereas former Manor and Sauber Formula 1 racer Wehrlein recently ended his association with the German manufacturer. Coyne is planning to approach both soon, while Sebastien Bourdais, who he runs in association with Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan, is expected to stay onboard.

Despite his interest in these European drivers, Coyne said his talks with both Pietro Fittipaldi and Santino Ferrucci are continuing, although he now says that DCR is “almost certain to run only two cars” next year, aside from at the Indy 500. He added also that he will be trying to avoid switching between different drivers as Bourdais’ teammate.

In 2018, Coyne’s #19 car was shared by Indy Lights graduate Zachary Claman De Melo and Fittipaldi. Despite his injuries in a WEC race at Spa in May, Fittipaldi took part in six races with Coyne and has ditched his remaining WEC and Super Formula commitments in order to give his legs a better chance to heal.

Ferrucci subbed for Fittipaldi in Detroit’s double-header and then raced a third Coyne car at both Portland and Sonoma.

Sam Schmidt is another team owner who has told Motorsport.com he is interested in Vandoorne, Ocon and Wehrlein, as he seeks to fill the #6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda seat for next year while Wickens is still rehabilitating.

However, as of Friday morning, Schmidt says he has not yet been in direct contact with that European trio and has only just started the process of sifting through potential 2019 partners for James Hinchcliffe.

Another IndyCar team with strong European connections is Carlin Racing, and team owner Trevor Carlin informed Motorsport.com that he is hoping to add a third car for 2019, the team's second year at this level.

shares
comments
Carlin prepares for three IndyCars in 2019, revives Lights team

Previous article

Carlin prepares for three IndyCars in 2019, revives Lights team

Next article

Fittipaldi targets “full season in open-wheel” for 2019

Fittipaldi targets “full season in open-wheel” for 2019
Load comments
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021
IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet Prime

IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet

The ace 20-somethings in IndyCar have risen to become title contenders, but the best of the series veterans are digging deep and responding – and will continue to do so over the next couple of years, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021