F1 rumours: Liberty want to buy IndyCar and turn it into American F1 feeder series

Oliver Harden
The IndyCar field circulates at Texas Motor Speedway. Texas, 2023.

The IndyCar field circulates at Texas Motor Speedway. Texas, 2023.

Formula 1 owners Liberty Media want to buy IndyCar and turn it into an American-based feeder category for F1, it has been claimed.

Owned by racing legend Roger Penske since 2020, the IndyCar Series is the leading single-seater category in America and is the home of the historic Indianapolis 500 race.

F1 has targeted the United States as a key area for expansion since Liberty’s takeover in 2017 and will stage no fewer than three races across America – in Miami, Texas and Las Vegas – across the 2023 season.

Marketing initiatives such as Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries has seen F1’s popularity explode in America, with a record 440,000 fans attending the United States Grand Prix in Austin last year.

With McLaren, the second-most successful team in F1 history, already having a presence in IndyCar, F1 commentator and analyst Peter Windsor – whose attempt to launch the USF1 team in 2010 failed to come to fruition – has revealed that Liberty’s next step to conquer America could see a move to purchase the series outright.

Speaking via his YouTube channel, Windsor speculated that a potential takeover could see the IndyCar calendar move away from oval circuits in favour of more purpose-built and street-based venues, with the design of the cars brought more in line with F1 machinery.

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He said: “One of the things Liberty are looking at at the moment – and this is quite a good idea – is buying IndyCar to make it effectively an American feeder series for F1.

“How they would do that, I don’t know – maybe get rid of some of the ovals and make it even more road coursey [sic], maybe make the cars a little bit more F1-like, maybe carbon brakes or whatever.

“Maybe that’s why Zak [Brown, McLaren chief executive] is there, I don’t know.

“That’s not a completely stupid idea.

“I think it’s quite a cool idea actually because it’s a place where you could put a lot of good, talented drivers who can’t make it into Formula 1 and then they go and do this American series.

“It makes sense to me to do that.”

Previously regarded as a destination for drivers after the end of their F1 careers, IndyCar has seen an increased crossover with Formula 1 in recent years.

Alex Palou and Colton Herta, two of the most exciting talents in IndyCar, have both driven McLaren F1 machinery within the last year, while two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso decided to miss the Monaco Grand Prix in 2017 to instead participate in the Indy 500 with the aim of winning motorsport’s so-called triple crown.

Of the 29 drivers to have participated in the 2023 IndyCar season so far, four – Championship leader Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato – have previously competed in F1.