The latest news that Swedish F1 racer Marcus Ericsson is joining the series for 2019 shows just how far the series has grown in stature internationally in the past decade. Since the merger between the CART and Indycar series in 2008, American open-wheel racing has grown to heights unseen since the 1990’s heyday.
The series already has 30 full or part-time entries for next year, with additional entries for the Indianapolis 500 enhancing the center-piece event of the year. Teams like Penske, Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing are all long-standing front running teams, but the series is managing to attract a variety of new entrants to the series.
British open-when junior formula powerhouse Carlin Racing provides international pedigree from a highly successful team. American Sportscar teams such as Michael Shank Racing and Scuderia Corsa add success in IMSA competition. Teams like Juncos and Harding Steinbrenner Racing are also important because they show that the series is accessible for teams in Indy Lights, which is important for the future of the series as they provide quality depth from the Road to Indy ladder.
The improving quality of the teams has a knock-on effect in terms of the driving talent being attracted to the series. The series has maintained it’s role as a home for the top level U.S driving talent, the likes of Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti. For similar talents like Josef Newgarden and Alex Rossi it has provided refuge after F1 inexplicably neglected their obvious talent.
Stalwart names like Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais are just some of many examples of very talented drivers who have made Indycar their home.
The series is increasingly becoming an option for international drivers also, firstly with Felix Rosenqvist signing for Chip Ganassi and now Marcus Ericsson signing for Schmidt Peterson. Both drivers, apart from being Swedish, are very talented with Rosenqvist winning in everything he’s raced from F3 to Super Formula, and Marcus Ericsson proving in his five years in F1 that he’s a very good driver who will flourish in Indycar.
Whilst the news is still fresh it could potentially mark a moment in time when F1 drivers finally being to realise Indycar is a viable option for them once their Formula One careers are over. The likes of Marcus Ericsson are showing to the international stage that Indycar is a thriving series with great racing and top quality talent that is worthy of any drivers attention. Long may it continue.
By Jordan Wilkins
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