IndyCar and former GP2 driver Conor Daly believes Formula 1 teams should now be knocking down the door of newly crowned 2017 IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden.
Newgarden clinched the title at the final round of the IndyCar season in Sonoma on Sunday, having taken second place in the race, enough to give him a thirteen-point advantage over second placed Simon Pagenaud in the championship. The result saw the 26-year-old crowned as the series’ first American champion since Ryan Hunter-Reay took the title five years ago.
Daly told Racer.com recently, that he feels the progress Newgarden has shown this year, in just his first season with the Team Penske outfit, was nothing short of sensational, and that any Formula 1 team would be mad not to consider him for a seat.
“Right now, the pace Josef has been on with his steady development, he should be receiving calls from Formula 1 teams.
“In no way should he not be paid attention to. The guy won the championship in his first season with Roger Penske, and maybe he is receiving calls from Formula 1 teams.”
Newgarden tried his hand in the MSA Formula Ford Championship back in 2009, finishing second overall, before spending a year competing in the GP3 Series in 2010. The Tennessee racer could only manage to end the season in eighteenth place however, and that was not enough to impress Formula 1 bosses.
The lack of interest saw Newgarden move back Stateside to the Indy Lights Series, and there he found his feet, winning the title in his debut season, which promptly earned him a scholarship in the 2012 IndyCar season.
Though his rise to stardom was not meteoric at first, the 26-year-old began to show real potential last year, when he produced one of the most dominating victories in the history of the series, at Iowa Speedway. The Tennessee racer led a record 282 of 300 laps that day, having started from second on the grid, with a performance that earned him huge respect and kudos in the paddock.
Perhaps even more impressive, is the fact that the win came just four weeks after Newgarden suffered a fractured clavicle and right hand in an accident at Texas Motor Speedway, proving nothing was going to stop him achieving his ultimate dream.
This season he finally pulled it altogether to produce a performance that allowed him to bag the most wins of any driver in 2017, and with it the Series title.
Fellow competitor Daly says that although Newgarden may not have shown the flare and pace early on his career, he is certainly making up for that now, and Formula 1 should sit up and take note.
“It’s hard to accept that a talent like Josef, that we’ve seen for many years, would have been kicked out of the Red Bull system if he had gone to Formula 1.
“Their deal would be, ’23rd as a rookie, 14th in Year 2, let’s get rid of him.’ You aren’t given a lot of time to grow, which he’s had now in IndyCar.
“The progression is what’s impressive about Josef. Drivers are always learning, and he’s only been with Penske one year and look what he’s done already.
“He’s going to be very difficult to beat here in the future if he doesn’t get taken by a Formula 1 team.”