Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon are two drivers who would be ready to make the switch from IndyCar to Formula 1 today, according to Zak Brown.
The debate about IndyCar drivers crossing over to F1 was reignited by recent quotes attributed to Guenther Steiner suggesting no Americans are currently ready, which drew a backlash on social media from a number of drivers. Speaking at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Brown says he disagrees with Steiner’s comments and sees a specific pair that he would be willing to put in an F1 car.
“Well the biggest challenge you have is the lack of testing,” Brown replied when asked by RACER who he would pick from IndyCar to run at McLaren. “So until this rules change… We only get eight pre-season days of testing and even that is only with one car so you rotate drivers, so to take away a day from Fernando [Alonso]’s four or Stoffel [Vandoorne]’s four just doesn’t make sense.
“So I think until that rule changes it will be difficult for a driver outside f the Formula 1 arena or Formula 2 to break into Formula 1 because they just have such a disadvantage. So the system does’t really allow you to bring someone in. I think it’s great that Toro Rosso took someone like Brendon Hartley because there’s risk with that decision, but he knows all of those tracks as well.
“Specifically I think Josef Newgarden is an outstanding talent, and I think Scott Dixon is an outstanding talent. I also don’t subscribe that you’re old at a [certain age] – I mean, eventually you get old – but I think what happens with drivers is they ultimately lose motivation. That’s what catches up with them.
“If you look at someone like Michael Schumacher, he was very competitive into his forties. I think had he not taken those few years off, those last couple of tenths that he was off, I don’t think he would have been, and he was in his forties. Fernando has that same type of dedication. I think Fernando is driving as well as he’s ever driven and just because he’s going to turn 37 later this year I don’t think the stopwatch is going to get any slower.
“On the flip side, you’ve someone like Nico Rosberg who just for whatever reason said ‘I’m done.’ So someone like Scott Dixon reminds me of Fernando where he’s extremely fit, very dedicated and is as fast as ever. I think Scott Dixon would be competitive in a Formula 1 car today.”
With Brown also running McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris in the No. 23 United Autosports entry at Daytona, the McLaren executive director says he wants to see more drivers running in different categories.
“Most of the other Formula 1 drivers probably don’t have a race car this weekend, so I’m of the view that this is great for Fernando and Lando. I think experience helps you in all forms of motor racing. How can being in a race car be anything other than good for staying fit and staying focused?
“Fernando in particular, I think he literally wants to live in a race car. It puts him in a really good place. Race car drivers, like all athletes, it’s half physical and half mental. So these things are what he wants to do. He’s very happy in the environment. I just remember the days of the Dan Gurneys and the Mario Andrettis and multiple disciplines. I don’t see why we can’t do that today.”