- You can cross IndyCar off Daniel Ricciardo’s future even though he won’t drive in F1 next season.
- Ricciardo called IndyCar ovals too scary.
- Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean said similar things after making the switch to IndyCar.
Daniel Ricciardo drives 200 mph (320 kph) for a living, but even he is not brave enough to make the switch to IndyCar thanks to their even-higher-speed ovals.
Ricciardo, the uber-popular Formula One driver for McLaren Racing, is not expected to have a seat when the music stops in the game of 2023 F1 driver musical chairs. But while some have speculated that North America’s top open-wheel formula series, IndyCar, would be a logical next step, he shut that down pretty quickly, noting some of their races are just too scary.
“Fuck that, ovals scare me,” Ricciardo said when Luke Smith of Motorsport asked about the possibility of making the jump. “My Formula One career-slash-ambition is not over, so that’s really like first and foremost. I don’t want to deviate, I would say primarily for that reason. But also ovals, nah. Ten years ago, I would have said yes. I’m OK to admit that I’m not OK with ovals.”
Ricciardo’s comments sound similar to those of big-name drivers who switched to IndyCar
Earlier this year, former F1 driver Romain Grosjean qualified for his first Indianapolis 500. After qualifying, he sounded glad that the entire experience was behind him, as the top cars regularly hit 240-242 mph (386-390 kph).
“It was scary,” Grosjean said with a smile when asked about qualifying. “We tried everything we had to go fast and get some speed in the car, but it was definitely nerve-wracking. It wasn’t easy. I used all the tools in the car. I’m glad it’s behind me.”
Another famed driver, seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, moved to IndyCar in 2021 and initially vowed only to race on the road and street courses. He said his wife would never approve of the ludicrous speeds IndyCars reach in Indianapolis.
However, he changed his stance in 2022.
After Johnson qualified at the Iowa oval in July, you could tell it was unlike anything he had ever experienced in a race car.
“Wow, that’s the best cup of coffee you could ever have,” Johnson said, later adding: “What a rush. To go that fast around a little oval like this — I have plenty of experience on ovals — it’s just such a crazy experience.”
Ricciardo doesn’t want to mess with NASCAR ovals either
Ricciardo, who grew up a fan of NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt, said he also wouldn’t race full-time in NASCAR because of the ovals. However, in this case, it was more about his lack of experience.
“I’d like to drive an oval just to kind of see what it’s like, but I probably wouldn’t want to compete because I just, I don’t think I’ll be competitive and wouldn’t probably do it justice,” Ricciardo told Insider before the Miami Grand Prix.
Ricciardo wouldn’t completely rule out NASCAR, saying he would “leave the door open” to making an occasional appearance on a road course.
“A road course or something would be fun, but I’ll walk before I can run,” Ricciardo said. “It’s such a different discipline that I’ll want to do some testing and kind of see where I’m at. And let’s say if that all went well and I had good confidence in the car, then, you know, I might put my hand up, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. It’s a very different beast.
“So I think to go into NASCAR, even if it was just a one-off race and to, let’s say, to rub shoulders with so many guys that I’ve watched since I was a kid, I think that would also be a, a similar feeling [to racing with older F1 drivers when he was younger].”
This was a similar path taken by former F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen, who made his NASCAR debut earlier this year at the Watkins Glen road course. In fact, Trackhouse Racing’s “Project 91,” which aims to bring international drivers to NASCAR for one-off appearances — such as Raikkonen — would seem like a perfect fit for Ricciardo.