Formula One vs Indy Car
A Modern Comparison

WHO ARE THE BEST DRIVERS???

Well, we could go look at who has been winning this year. That might help help us see who is currently the best in a particular series. But maybe not! You see, its a whole lot more complicated than that. It can be a tricky subject, for many people choose their favorite driver on anything but driving talent! They might like the way they talk or look or some other personal reason, but this page is not going to examine this angle.

We should all probably agree on some traits that the best drivers will possess though: courage, talent, quickness, brains and luck. Money doesn't hurt either!

Just looking to see who has been winning lately doesn't necessarily point us in the right direction. Maybe the best driver hasn't been winning because...

  • his car is too slow
  • or, his team has problems
  • or, he's had really bad luck
  • or, the team just doesn't have enough money
  • or, his team is new
  • or, he's still suffering from that injury
  • or, he's going through a divorce
  • etc, etc, etc.
  • Road Courses VS Ovals
    Another problem is that drivers compete in different series and different types of cars! How do you compare them?

    Many people claim that a driver who races on a road course not only has to change speed more drastically, but turn right as well as left. But on a oval, there is a constant faster speed. The faster you go, the less time you have to make decisions. There is a concrete wall, there's generally more passing, and the danger is higher.

    Indycar VS Stockcars
    Some folks claim that there is a smaller margin of error in stockcars because they race closer together. But this is because they can. They can usually rub and bump each other without too much concern. But doing that with open-wheelers usually results in a devastating accident. When you see an IRL car whose wheels are inches from another car, it is a much more dangerous situation!

    Also, open-wheelers are more aerodynamic and travel at faster speeds, but when they wreck, since they are not usually all close as flies, not as many cars get wrecked. Often times in Nascar, you are at the mercy of what happens in front of you more than in open-wheel series.

    Anyway, one famous attempt has been made to compare drivers - IROC!

    IROC

    The International Race Of Champions is an American racing series that has been around for 25 years.

    They pit stars from different series together in an attempt to see who is the best. IROC holds four races each year. They race only on large ovals and in equally prepared closed-wheel cars that resemble Trans-Am or stock cars.

    2000 IROC

    Drivers from different series are invited to participate. Jacky Ickx, Emerson Fittipaldi, Richard Petty, Gordon Johncock, Jody Scheckter, Johnny Rutherford, Buddy Baker, James Hunt, Denny Hulme and Martin Brundle are some of the drivers who have competed over the years.

    F1 drivers have not competed in the last several years.
    This year (2001) we had drivers from NASCAR, IRL, & CART competing.

    IROC SERIES CHAMPIONS
    1974 Mark Donohue

    1975 Bobby Unser

    1976 A. J. Foyt

    1977 A. J. Foyt

    1978 Al Unser

    1979 Mario Andretti

    1980 Bobby Allison

    1981

    1982

    1983

    1984 Cale Yarborough

    1985 Harry Gant

    1986 Al Unser Jr.

    1987 Geoff Bodine

    1988 Al Unser Jr.

    1989 Terry Labonte

    1990 Dale Earnhardt

    1991 Rusty Wallace

    1992 Ricky Rudd

    1993 D. Allison/T. Labonte

    1994 Mark Martin

    1995 Dale Earnhardt

    1996 Mark Martin

    1997 Mark Martin

    1998 Mark Martin

    1999 Dale Earnhardt

    2000 Dale Earnhardt

    2001 Bobby Labonte

    2002 Kevin Harvick

    2003

    IROC Homepage

    Race of Champions - ROC

    Another racing series has also come on the scene - the Race of Champions.

    This series takes 3 drivers each from different countries and pits them against each other in off-road rally cars. Typically each team consists of a motorcycle champion. Generally, your professional Rally drivers win. It is still interesting to see though, as this year (2002) we had drivers from CART, F1, and Winston Cup competing for their respective countries including Jeff Gordon, Cristiano Da Matta, and Nick Heidfeld.

    Information on this series can be found at their website: ROC

    Is Jeff Gordon a Wimp?

    Does Winston Cup require that much experience, or are their drivers just old farts? Bruno Junqueira, a CART rookie who qualified for 2001 Indy 500, said he was baffled by the physical condition that stock-car drivers seem to be in. His favorite example: Bobby Hamilton who was so exhausted by driving 500 miles last month at Talladega that he couldn't stand up to be interviewed.

    "They couldn't make it for half of an F3000 (road) race," he said. Bruno was last year's F3000 champion.

    My neighbor's friend said that the little smart-alek wouldn't last half-way through Bristol!

    Then my neighbor intervened with, "These racers are different types of animals, like football players are different than basketball players!

    Well I thought that sounded like a good excuse to remember incase you ever get into this argument in the pub!




    Who is the best driver of all time?

    Wins alone would point to Petty. He scored his 200th and final victory on July 4, 1984, at Daytona International Speedway in front of President Reagan.

    Petty has 95 more victories than David Pearson, who holds down second place on the all-time NASCAR win list. But Petty started 1,184 races, compared to 574 for the "Silver Fox." Neither Petty nor Pearson ever started the Indianapolis 500.

    Petty won the Daytona 500 a record seven times and the championship the same number of times. Earnhardt, who was fatally injured in a last-lap crash at Daytona last February, finally won his only Daytona 500 in 1998 but matched Petty's record of seven Winston Cup titles. Earnhardt's 76 career race victories is sixth all-time, coming in 676 starts.

    Both Foyt and Andretti not only drove in the Daytona 500 but also won it.

    Foyt is the all-time Indy car race winner at 67, including four in the Indianapolis 500. He also started at Indy 35 consecutive times, an incredible record. And in 1967, he shared the winning ride with Dan Gurney in the demanding Le Mans 24 Hours sports-car race.

    Andretti is second on the Indy-car victory list with 52. He also is second on the Indianapolis 500 races started list with 29 and third in laps led, 556, yet he only won the world's most famous race once, in 1969. Foyt won the national championship seven times, Mario four times.

    On the plus side for Andretti is that he drove in 128 Formula One races, won 12 and the 1978 World Championship. He has finished no better than third at Le Mans.

    Andretti started a record 407 races in an Indy car, and, combined with his F1 starts, his start total in the top two forms of open-wheel racing is a remarkable 535. Foyt started 369 Indy-car races.

    Michael Schumacher, who now owns four World Championships with two different teams, has strong credentials for consideration as the greatest driver. He won consecutive titles with Benetton in 1994-95 and has followed with two more with Ferrari in 2000-01. He was never seriously challenged this season and wrapped up the title with four races remaining.

    This is the 11th F1 season for Schumacher, 32. His 52 wins have come in just 158 starts. Prost started 199 races between 1980-93 and won championships in 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1993. Another factor favoring Schumacher is that he already has led 87 Grands Prix for 3,053 laps, while Prost was a pacesetter in 84 races for 2,684 laps.

    Brazilian Ayrton Senna, whose career was cut short -- like Earnhardt's -- by death in a crash, won 41 times in 161 starts and led 2,986 laps in 86 races.

    Schumacher's victory in last year's inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix at Indy was particularly impressive. No team had practiced at the new 2.606-mile, 13-turn road course, yet Schuey dominated in practice, qualifying and the race. He might have won by half-a-lap but for his own late inattention that caused him to briefly spin off course and trim his imposing lead.

    One thing Schumacher hasn't done is take a shot at the Indianapolis 500. Some other F1 stars of the past, such as Jimmy Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi did. Clark, Hill and Emmo won it, and Stewart had the 1966 race in his crosshairs until an engine problem took him out with 11 laps to go.

    Then we come to Gordon. He grew up in the shadow of the Speedway yet hasn't raced there in an open-wheel car. He chose to go to stock-car racing and has won 57 times in just 283 races. He raced to victory in the first Brickyard 400 in 1994 and after only eight events already is a three-time winner. He has won on the big ovals, short tracks and road courses, and soon will pass the late Earnhardt as the sport's all-time money-winner.

    Possibly all of these drivers are second to the late Juan Manuel Fangio. All this Argentine did was start in the front row in 48 of 51 races, win 24, capture 29 poles and earn a podium finish 35 times. He led 39 races for 1,348 laps and won championships in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957.

    The drawback in selecting him as the greatest is the strength of competition in the 1950s and the lack a strong racing season. Still, he won a career-high 47 percent of the races he started, and that says a lot for his talent. All any driver can do is beat the competitors who race against him each time.

    As far as Schumacher is concerned, it is great for American racing fans that Speedway President Tony George brought Formula One back to the U.S., and particularly to the Speedway. This has allowed them to see Schuey in person and make a personal judgment on where he fits among the all-time greats of the sport.

    Excerpts from "Who Is The Greatest Of Them All?" by Dick Mittman, the Senior Editor for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    Money Matters??

    We all know that money helps buy not only the best equipment, but the best employees. F1 teams in the 90's are very large and have a lot of money. The teams employ anywhere from 100 to 500 people and are worth $50 million to a $1 billion. These teams are by far the richest race teams in the world.

    If F1 spends the most money on drivers, does this mean they have the best drivers?! Sounds logical. However, they do not tap the well of oval track drivers where most Americans race. Jeff Gordon is never going to get a chance at F1, even though he might be the best driver in the world. The world of F1 would like to have an American driver too! Not only because they now have an American Grand Prix, but because of American sponsors and the fact that they call their Championship the "World" Drivers Championship. The last American to get a chance to race in F1 was Michael Andretti, and this was because he had road course experience in the CART series. It didn't seem to go him much good though.

    Why is it that Americans race on ovals? This seems to go all the way back to the beginnning of auto racing. Europe had a decent road structure before the auto was invented. The 1800's found America's horses and wagons blazing trails and muddy ruts as the westward expansion continued. When auto racing began at the beginning of the century, Americans turned to their dirt horse tracks to race on. Europeans skipped their "grass" horse tracks and used their roads instead. Hence separate traditions began that continue to this day, a century later.




    The Best Driver in the World?

    Schumey Michael Schumacher earned $80 million in 2001, easily making him the highest paid driver in the world. Schumacher, arguably the best race car driver of all time, broke many records in Formula One in 2001. He clinched his 4th World Drivers Championship by August and he kept on winning.
    He surpassed Ayrton Senna for the highest number of laps lead in a lifetime. He surpassed Alain Prost for the most number of career victories. He tied Nigel Mansell's record for the most wins in a season. Michael won 11 poles and 9 races in the 16-race 2001 season, and he finished 2nd five times. He now has a total of 53 career wins.
    Yet, there are still some records for Michael to shoot for. Juan Fangio won 5 F1 Championships and Ayrton Senna won 65 pole positions. Note: Juan Fangio was able to switch cars and choose the best car in the race in the 1950's!

    But something not reflected in the facts above, is that Michael Schumacher WILL CHEAT TO WIN. Just look at his attempt to purposely drive Villeneuve off the track in the last race of 1997. In my opinion, this automatically removes him from being the "Best Driver". Maybe the majority of drivers, and definately teams, do cheat, but there are some who do not! They're number 1 in my book.

    LIST OF RECENT CHAMPIONS

    The 2001 Champions

    Indy Racing LeagueSam Hornish, Jr. (U.S.)
    Formula OneMichael Schumacher (Germany)
    CARTGil de Ferran
    IROCBobby Labonte (U.S.)
    NASCAR Winston CupJeff Gordon
    NASCAR Busch Grand Natl.Kevin Harvick
    NASCAR Craftsman TruckJack Sprague
    CARTGil de Ferran
    TRANS AMPaul Gentilozzi
    SCCA US F2000Jason LaPoint
    SCCA US F3Luciano Gomide
    Indy LightsTownsend Bell
    F3000Justin Wilson
    Formula Holden (Oz)Rick Kelly
    ARCAFrank Kimmel
    WoO SprintDanny Lasoski
    IHRA Top FuelPaul Romine
    NHRA Top FuelKenny Bernstein
    IHRA Funny CarScott Weney
    NHRA Funny CarJohn Force
    NHRA Pro StockWarren Johnson
    NHRA Pro Stock TruckBob Panella Jr
    NAMARS MidgetsTravis Miniea
    NAMARS Super TruckRowdie Embry
    American Lemans - LMP900Emanuele Pirro
    AFRAMark Cruickshank
    USAC Silver CrownPaul White
    USAC SprintsJ.J. Yeley
    USAC MidgetsDave Darland

    The 2000 Champions

    Indy Racing LeagueBuddy Lazier (U.S.)
    Formula OneMichael Schumacher (Germany)
    NASCAR Winston CupBobby Labonte (U.S.)
    NASCAR Busch Grand Natl.Jeff Green
    NASCAR Craftsman TruckGreg Biffle
    CARTGil de Ferran
    TRANS AMBrian Simo
    Toyota Formula AtlanticBuddy Rice (U.S.)
    SCCA US F2000Aaron Justus
    SCCA US F3Luciano Gomide (Brazil)
    Indy LightsScott Dixon
    F3000Bruno Junqueira
    Formula Holden (Oz)Simon Wills
    Formula Nippon (Japan)Toranosuke Takagi
    WoO SprintSteve Kinser
    USAC SprintTony Elliott
    USAC MidgetKasey Kahne
    USAC Western SprintBrad Noffsinger
    USAC Indy Speedrome midgetBrad Kuhn
    USAC Regional Dirtrack midgetJay Drake
    IHRA Top FuelPaul Romine
    NHRA Top FuelGary Scelzi
    IHRA Funny CarScott Weney
    IHRA Funny CarJon Yoak
    NHRA Funny CarJohn Force
    NHRA Pro StockJeg Coughlin
    NHRA Pro Stock TruckBob Panella
    NAMARS MidgetsTravis Wellpot
    NAMARS Super TruckKen Langhals
    NAMARS Sprint CarBrian Tyler

    The 1999 Champions

    Indy Racing LeagueGreg Ray (U.S.)
    Formula OneMika Hakkinen (Finland)
    NASCAR Winston CupDale Jarrett (U.S.)
    CARTJuan Pablo Montoya (Columbia)
    TRANS AMPaul Gentilozzi (U.S.)
    Formula AtlanticAnthony Lazarro
    US F2000Dan Wheldon (U.S.)
    Indy LightsOriol Servia
    F3000Nick Heidfeld (Germany)
    USRRC Can-AmBurch Leitzinger
    Elliott Forbes-Robinson (U.S.)
    USAC sprintRyan Newman (U.S.)
    USAC midgetJason Leffler (U.S.)
    Top FuelTony Schumacher (U.S.)
    Pro Stock TruckBob Panella Jr. (U.S.)
    Funny CarJohn Force (U.S.)
    Pro StockWarren Johnson (U.S.)



    The 1998 Champions

    Indy Racing League - Kenny Brack (Sweden)
    Formula OneMika Hakkinen (Finland)
    NASCAR Winston CupJeff Gordon (U.S.)
    NASCAR BuschDale Earnhardt Jr. (U.S.)
    NASCAR Craftsman TruckRon Hornaday (U.S.)
    TRANS AMPaul Gentilozzi
    CARTAlex Zanardi (Italy)
    Indy LightsCristiano da Matta
    Kool/Toyota AtlanticLee Bentham
    World Rally ChampionshipTommi Makinen
    Top Fuel DragsterGary Scelzi (U.S.)
    Funny CarJohn Force (U.S.)
    Pro StockWarren Johnson (U.S.)



    Amazing Driver feats:

    • Ayrton Senna has by far the most number of pole positions in Formula One history - 65!
      Michael Schumacher is in second place, with 37 as of 7/26/01.


    IRL VS CART

    In 1996, the IRL was formed, which caused some CART team-owners to boycott the Indy 500. The following is a list of the 1995 IndyCar drivers, who are still active, and which series they now race in.

    Letter from Tony George - 1995

    (What really hurt Indy Car was the retirement of many legendary drivers all around the same time. Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr., Johnny Rutherford, Danny Sulivan, Gordon Johncock and Emerson Fittipaldi all left.)

    IRL - Scott Brayton (died in practice crash at Speedway in '96)
    IRL - Raul Boesel
    IRL - Eddie Cheever - Indy 500 Winner
    IRL - Scott Goodyear
    IRL - Buddy Lazier - Indy 500 winner
    IRL - Arie Luyendyk - 2 Time Indy 500 winner
    IRL - Robbie Buhl
    IRL - Mike Groff
    IRL - Robbie Groff
    IRL - Eliseo Salazar
    IRL - Marco Greco
    IRL - Al Unser Jr. switched from CART in 2000 - 2 Time Indy 500 Winner IRL - Michael Andretti switched from CART in 2003 - Prior experience: 11 attempts at Indy.
    IRL - Gil de Ferran switched from CART in 2002- Prior experience: 1 year in Indy

    CART- Paul Tracy - returned to Indy 500 in 2002
    CART- Jimmy Vasser - returned to Indy 500 in 2000
    CART- Adrian Fernandez - Prior Experience: 2 years in Indy
    CART- Bryan Herta - Prior Experience: 2 years in Indy
    CART- Andre Robeiro - Prior Experience: 1 year in Indy
    CART- Christian Fittipaldi - Prior Experience: 1 year in Indy

    CART - Bobby Rahal, retired in 97. He competed in 13 Indy 500's - Started IRL team in 2003
    CART - Scott Pruett, moved to Nascar in 2000. He competed in 4 Indy 500's.
    and then there's Robby Gordon who has raced in 6 Indy 500's, Nascar, CART, IRL, and off road. For 2001, Robby raced some Winston Cup and in the Indy 500 again for A.J. Foyt.
    May 17, 1999 - Robbie was comparing the IRL and Champ cars:
    "All kidding aside, the cars are more similar than they are different. I like these IRL cars. They're very mechanical-friendly, if that makes sense. Not as high-tech as the CART cars, which make them a little bit easier to set up. Not as many variables. As for actually driving the cars, they feel very similar, once again. The one thing that you notice is the horsepower difference, which is about 200 in favor of the turbocharged Champ Cars. In terms of handling, what you want with the IRL car is the same thing you want with the Champ Car ... you want it to handle well. When the cars are handling well, a race car is a race car. "

    Indy 500 & F1 Race Champions


    Drivers in red won F1 and Indy!

    Last updated Nov 20, 2001

    Total F1 Winners
    Wins
    Cla Drivers Total
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    10
    11
    12
    13
    14
    15
    16
    17
    18
    19
    20
    21
    22
    23
    24
    25
    26
    27
    28
    29
    30
    31
    32
    33
    34
    35
    36
    37
    38
    39
    40
    41
    42
    43
    44
    45
    46
    47
    48
    49
    50
    51
    52
    53
    54
    55
    56
    57
    58
    59
    60
    61
    62
    63
    64
    65
    66
    67
    68
    69
    70
    71
    72
    73
    74
    75
    76
    77
    78
    79
    80
    81
    82
    83
    84
    85
    86
    87
    88
    89
    90
    91
    M.Schumacher
    Alain Prost
    Ayrton Senna
    Nigel Mansell
    Jackie Stewart
    Jim Clark
    Niki Lauda
    J.M.Fangio
    Nelson Piquet
    Damon Hill
    Mika Hakkinen
    Stirling Moss
    Jack Brabham
    Graham Hill
    E.Fittipaldi
    Alberto Ascari
    Mario Andretti
    Carlos Reutemann
    Alan Jones
    J.Villeneuve
    David Coulthard
    Ronnie Peterson
    Jody Scheckter
    James Hunt
    Gerhard Berger
    Denny Hulme
    Jacky Ickx
    Rene Arnoux
    Tony Brooks
    John Surtees
    Jochen Rindt
    Jacques Laffite
    G.Villeneuve
    Riccardo Patrese
    Nino Farina
    Clay Regazzoni
    John Watson
    Keke Rosberg
    Michele Alboreto
    Bruce McLaren
    Dan Gurney
    Eddie Irvine
    Ralf Schumacher
    H-H.Frentzen
    Peter Collins
    Mike Hawthorn
    Phil Hill
    Didier Pironi
    Thierry Boutsen
    Johnny Herbert
    M.Trintignant
    J.F.Gonzalez
    Bill Vukovich
    W.von Trips
    Jo Siffert
    Pedro Rodriguez
    Peter Revson
    P.Depailler
    J.P.Jabouille
    Patrick Tambay
    Elio de Angelis
    Luigi Fagioli
    Lee Wallard
    Sam Hanks
    Jim Rathmann
    Troy Ruttman
    Johnnie Parsons
    Pat Flaherty
    Piero Taruffi
    Rodger Ward
    Bob Sweikert
    Jimmy Bryan
    Luigi Musso
    Jo Bonnier
    Innes Ireland
    Richie Ginther
    G.Baghetti
    Lorenzo Bandini
    L.Scarfiotti
    J.P.Beltoise
    Peter Gethin
    Francois Cevert
    Carlos Pace
    Jochen Mass
    V.Brambilla
    Gunnar Nilsson
    A.Nannini
    Jean Alesi
    Olivier Panis
    Rubens Barrichello
    J.P. Montoya
    53
    51
    41
    31
    27
    25
    25
    24
    23
    22
    20
    16
    14
    14
    14
    13
    12
    12
    12
    11
    11
    10
    10
    10
    10
    8
    8
    7
    6
    6
    6
    6
    6
    6
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    4
    4
    4
    3
    3
    3
    3
    3
    3
    3
    3
    2
    2
    2
    2
    2
    2
    2
    2
    2
    2
    2
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    1
    Total 500 Winners
    DriverWins
    A.J. Foyt Jr.4
    Al Unser4
    Rick Mears4
    Bobby Unser3
    Johnny Rutherford3
    Lou Meyer3
    Mauri Rose3
    Wilbur Shaw3
    Al Unser Jr.2
    Arie Luyendyk2
    Bill Vukovich2
    Emerson Fittipaldi2
    Gordon Johncock2
    Rodger Ward2
    Tommy Milton2
    Bill Cummings1
    Bill Holland1
    Billy Arnold1
    Bob Sweikert1
    Bobby Rahal1
    Buddy Lazier1
    Danny Sullivan1
    Dario Resta1
    Eddie Cheever Jr.1
    Floyd Davis1
    Floyd Roberts1
    Frank Lockhart1
    Fred Frame1
    Gaston Chevrolet1
    George Robson1
    George Souders1
    Graham Hill1
    Howdy Wilcox1
    Jacques Villeneuve1
    Jim Clark1
    Jim Rathmann1
    Jimmy Bryan1
    Jimmy Murphy1
    Joe Boyer1
    Joe Dawson1
    Johnnie Parsons1
    Juan Pablo Montoya1
    Jules Goux1
    Kelly Petillo1
    Kenny Brack1
    L.L. Corum1
    Lee Wallard1
    Louis Schneider1
    Mario Andretti1
    Mark Donohue1
    Parnelli Jones1
    Pat Flaherty1
    Peter DePaolo1
    Ralph DePalma1
    Ray Harroun1
    Ray Keech1
    Rene Thomas1
    Sam Hanks1
    Tom Sneva1
    Troy Ruttman1




    Other Comparison Pages :

    Synopsis
    Technical Comparison
    Comparing the Series
    Visual Comparison



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