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Indy 500: The ex-F1 stars who have dominated at the Brickyard

James Black May 24, 2021
indy 500 f1
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

After the crown jewel of the F1 calendar took place at the weekend, with Max Verstappen winning his first Monaco Grand Prix, this coming weekend sees another of motorsport’s Triple Crown take place with the 105th running of the Indy 500 on 30 May.

The Indy 500, alongside the Monaco GP and 24 Hours of Le Mans, is part of the Triple Crown and quite a few familiar names to F1 fans have taken the top step at the Brickyard.

This year’s race will see former F1 drivers Marcus Ericsson, Max Chilton, and Sebastien Bourdais compete against American stars such as Ed Carpenter and Colton Herta.

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Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As covid restrictions ease, 135,000 fans will be able to watch the race on Sunday as drivers in the 33-car field look to write their name into the record books as winner of the most famous race in American motorsport.

While Fernando Alonso has spent much of the twilight of his career trying to get victory at Indy, the Spaniard won’t be involved this time. But a number of ex-Formula One stars have won at Indy and had their face added to the famous Borg-Warner trophy.

Here are some of the former F1 stars who have already sealed their place in immortality by winning the Indy 500:

Takuma Sato

Sato is defending champion and has won twice at Indy (2017 and 2020) becoming the first Asian driver to win the 500.

The Japanese driver made almost 100 starts in an F1 career that saw him drive for Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri.

Indianapolis was obviously somewhere he likes driving even when he was an F1 driver, scoring the only podium of his career at the 2004 American Grand Prix.

Sato’s eighth place finish in that season’s World Championship remains the highest by a Japanese driver in F1 – although Yuki Tsunoda will be hoping he can end that.

Alex Rossi

The American famously won at Indy as a rookie in 2016 after a brief but turbulent F1 career.

While he would only make five starts, Rossi would be around the sport for a few years and was originally set to run as Jules Bianchi’s replacement following his fatal crash in Japan before Marussia opted to only run a single car.

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A career-high finish of 12th was actually quite impressive given the machinery under him but he left the sport at the end of 2016.

Jacques Villeneuve

The Canadian star is one of only three drivers to have won the Indy 500 and the Formula One World Championship (Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi being the others), claiming two legs of the alternate Triple Crown of Motorsport.

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Villeneuve won at Indianapolis in 1995 before making the jump to F1 and becoming champion in 1997, remaining the only Canadian to have won either.

There’s really not much to say about Villeneuve that hasn’t been said before (often by Villeneuve).

Juan Pablo Montoya

The Colombian is one of only two active drivers to have won two of the three legs of the original Triple Crown alongside Fernando Alonso, and is in the field for this year’s 500.

Incredibly, JPM won at Indy twice with his wins coming a scarcely believeable 15 years apart (2000, 2015).

While he never lived up to the hype in Formula One and is only now really starting to see more goodwill from fans, Montoya remains one of the most under-rated F1 drivers of the last 25 years.

Montoya will start in 24th next week but you would never rule out one more massive win for the 45-year-old.

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James has been with Not The Old Firm since the beginning and took over as Managing Editor in 2021. As well as NTOF, James has written for HITC, Rangers News, The Daily Record, SB Nation, Shoot! Magazine and Youth Football Scotland. He can be found on Twitter @jamesblack1986 and, away from Scottish football, has a keen interest in MLS (Chicago Fire) and Formula 1.