A day after waving the checkered flag at the Hungarian Grand Prix, 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud had a chance to savor one of the more traditional ceremonies associated with winning at the Speedway by unveiling his likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
He’d been looking forward to the latter since the final weekend in May. But the response to the former caught him by surprise.
“I realized the impact of this race even on the Formula 1 world,” he told RACER. “It was just incredible – I felt like I was a king in the paddock, and people really embraced me. I got swamped. It was totally incredible. Renault F1 welcomed me into their garage and I got to see the car and engine up close; saw some secrets… I got to see some of my old friends at Honda who are doing magic now with Red Bull, and also caught up with Gil de Ferran at McLaren. It was incredible to go there and realize the impact of the Indy 500.
“I wasn’t expecting [that kind of reception]. Formula 1 is a closed world and I didn’t know if this was something they would care about. But I realized that they do, and that maybe I was the one being close-minded!”
Today’s unveiling of his portrait in Paris marks the first time that any of the 106 faces on the trophy have made their public debut outside of the United States, and comes in the middle of a whirlwind media tour in Pagenaud’s native country. Following the Paris stop, both Pagenaud and the trophy will make their way to his hometown in France’s central-west for a celebration on Tuesday night, and Pagenaud said he’s delighted with the silver representation of his face on the Borg-Warner that will be waiting to greet local fans.
“The likeness is incredible,” he said. “I think [sculptor] Will Behrends probably did his best job in 30 years – the hair is perfect, and it looks like a copy and paste of my face. It’s fun to know that I won’t age anymore!
“The biggest thing is being on the trophy with all of my heroes. The Borg-Warner is such an icon of racing, and it’s the only trophy in the world where your likeness stays on it forever. It will live through the years. Unfortunately we all die, but that won’t ever die, and that’s special. It means you’ve achieved something in your sport, put your print on it. When I see myself next to all of these amazing people, it’s incredible to think that I’m a part of that club.”