Top 10 IndyCar vs F1 - Reasons Why IndyCar Is Better

Tags: #IndyCar ,   #Racing ,   #Formula1 ,   #Indy500

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2023-10-10 09:14:05

Formula 1 and IndyCar have been compared since the dawn of time. While F1 is recognized as the best open-wheel championship globally, IndyCar is still immensely popular in the United States. Even though, at first look, both series look similar, there are huge differences too. Since IndyCar has many advantages, it wasn't hard to choose the top ten reasons making it better than F1. Hold tight, and keep reading!

10. IndyCar Has More Varied Races

Oval races are not only about maximum speed, as Iowa 250 race proves

While Formula 1 takes us to famous circuits worldwide, this doesn't mean its racing environments are more diverse. IndyCar drivers compete on tracks, street circuits, and ovals, so they show more skills during the season. While Formula 1 fans often don't appreciate oval racing, arguing that it's not demanding, the truth is quite different. Plus, not all ovals are the same, nor it's all about top-speed driving. While IndyCar was too much about oval racing, now the balance is much better.

Plus, Formula 1 tracks are often notorious for the lack of overtaking opportunities. Besides Monaco, circuits like Catalunya, Hungaroring, and a couple more don't offer many chances to get ahead of your rivals. None of it is present in IndyCar, and even the Long Beach street circuit offers way more exciting racing than Monte Carlo.

9. IndyCar Features Flying Starts

Flying starts in IndyCar are fun and often chaotic

In Formula 1, only cold starts are allowed, apart from yellow flag restarts. While it happened more than a couple of times that a driver from the second or third row manages to come on top after the first bend, this doesn't occur often. Usually, you'll see the top racers keep their positions and run into the distance. Also, it's not unusual for someone to jump the gun or have its engine turned off. In that case, every other car runs an additional warm-up lap, which is very anticlimactic.

While IndyCar also experimented with cold starts, flying starts are still dominating. While this makes it harder for competitors to quickly do a few passes, we've already said how rarely it happens in Formula 1. Of course, this excludes situations when the best cars are forced to start from the back.

8. IndyCar Has Guest Drivers

Fernando Alonso dreams of winning Indy 500, and tried it first in 2017

In Formula 1, almost all teams will field the same drivers every weekend. This changes only if one can't race or drives horribly for the best part of the season. In IndyCar, about 40 drivers have a chance to compete each year. Two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso was involved in IndyCar as a guest driver at the Indy 500, but he was not the only one. 

Could we even imagine having an IndyCar champion take a seat in the F1 car for a race or two? That's impossible, as Formula 1 teams are very rigid. Multiple driver changes were a thing in Formula 1, but this practice stopped during the mid-nineties. Since then, fewer and fewer drivers have competed every season.

7. IndyCar Pit Stops Are Way More Exciting

A typical IndyCar pitstop takes a lot of time

In Formula 1, pit stops are incredible to witness. Thus, the best teams can change all four tires in less than two seconds! If it takes more than three seconds, someone made a mistake. Such short pit stops also mean they have less influence on the track positions than ever. Plus, one or two pitstops are often enough to finish the race.

While in F1, more than 20 people form a pitstop crew, the number is limited to six in IndyCar. Plus, unlike in F1, refueling is allowed. As a result, IndyCar's pit stops are more varied, and there is much more opportunity for mistakes. Also, it's impossible to stop only once during the race, but at least four or five times! While Formula 1 and IndyCar are team sports, you can feel that more in IndyCar.

6. IndyCar Has More Rewarding Scoring System

Trophies on the podium rendering
IndyCar rewards even drivers finish at the bottom

In Formula 1, it doesn't matter if you've finished the race 11th or 20th, as you'll get zero points anyway. This means that if you're stuck in 15th place in the middle of the race, you won't be very motivated to do anything about it. You can't even earn a point for the fastest lap if you're not in the top ten!

In IndyCar, you'll still get points if you finish last. So, even if you've lost a couple of laps, it's better to get back on track. Going across the finish line will award you at least five points. Furthermore, IndyCar allows you to restart your car and continue, whereas in Formula 1, you become disqualified.

5. IndyCar is Budget-Friendly

One dollar coins
F1 entrance barrier is incredibly high

Running an IndyCar team isn't cheap, as teams spend as much as $10 million per season. However, that's only pocket money compared to Formula 1! While there's a budget cap now, it's still a massive $140 million per team. Thus, even the smaller ones spend close to $100 million. The team's budget usually dictates the success on the track, with smaller units left to fight for the leftovers.

This is also why Formula 1 struggles to have more than 20 cars in the race. The last time Formula 1 had a maximum of 13 teams on the grid was back in 1995. It sounds almost unreal that in 1989, 21 teams competed, so prequalifying was needed for a couple of years. In IndyCar, having 26 cars in the race is a regular sight, and even up to 33 in the legendary Indy 500.

4. IndyCar Races Have Way More Yellow Flags

There are a lot of crashes in IndyCar. Just look at 2019 season here

Unlike in Formula 1, in IndyCar, it rarely happens that the leading driver wins by a country mile. Since the competitors are so close by, it naturally brings more crashes. This leads to yellow flag periods where all cars get back together. Teams need to respond and change their strategies, and suddenly, even someone in the middle of the field has a chance for a podium.

In Formula 1, multiple yellow flag periods are relatively rare, so the top teams' pure performance is not significantly influenced. While cars are allowed to visit pits, as there is no refueling, everybody is only changing the tires, and we're back to square one.

3. IndyCar Is More Challenging to Drive

Formula 1 cars are way faster, as seen on Circuit of the America

Formula 1 cars are a pinnacle of technology. Even though traction control was banned in 2008, they still have tons of electronics that help the drivers have a more comfortable experience on the track.

Plus, the aerodynamics are much better, and the ground effect is more potent. There is a lack of downforce in IndyCar, so the drivers have to continually work the wheel. The errors are more common and an essential determining factor for the race outcome.

2. Overtaking in IndyCar Is More Frequent

IndyCar battles for positions are way more intense

IndyCar races are all about overtaking, all the time. The reason is that there is no considerable difference between the teams. Plus, in IndyCar, it's easier to utilize drafting. In Formula 1, riding behind someone negatively influences the car's stability, even though improvements have been made recently. The racing series tried to remedy this by implementing technologies such as DRS and ERS. Still, it's not been a complete success.

DRS won't help slower teams compete with leaders, but it will allow the best cars to effortlessly overtake everyone else. In the past, great drivers in average cars could successfully defend their positions. Now, they are powerless to do so. As a result, we often have boring races, even on the world's best tracks like Spa-Francorchamps, Monza, or Silverstone. Indycar also uses a Push to Pass technology, but every driver has the same amount of seconds to use it.

1. Anyone Can Win in IndyCar

Look at some of the closest IndyCar races

In Formula 1, you can see drivers celebrating like crazy when they qualify 15th on the grid. That might sound insane to IndyCar fans, but some F1 teams finish the whole season without scoring a single point! Throughout history, there were always teams dominating the championship, winning almost every race. In the best-case scenario, two or three teams might win multiple races during the season. Guys like Scott Speed could never hope to do much in lower-ranked cars. Furthermore, Mario Andretti won a single Formula 1 title, as he was rarely in the top car.

The last time a driver with an inferior car won the championship was in 2000 (Michael Schumacher in Ferrari) or even in 1994 (Michael Schumacher in Benetton). It's almost impossible to win the title during the middle of the season in IndyCar. Most of the time, the winner is decided in the last race, and it's not unusual to have four or five guys (and girls!) fighting for the title. In Formula 1, that happens once in a few decades. 

While Formula 1 has advantages over IndyCar, we provided arguments as to why American premier open-wheel racing is better. We can only hope that Formula 1 management will incorporate some IndyCar practices to make races more exciting.

In your opinion, what significant advantages IndyCar has over Formula 1? Do you watch both series and which one do you enjoy more? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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SmoothOperator Says:

The 2022 was excellent, with five drivers fighting for the title in the last race. Compare that to Formula One, where Max Verstappen won the title way before the season ended.

October 19 at 08:30:13 AM

Slayer938 Says:

The best thing about IndyCar is that a lot of drivers have a real chance of winning every weekend - just look at the 2022 season. Formula 1 needs to limit the team budgets and encourage more teams to join in.

August 12 at 02:48:20 PM

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