Lewis Hamilton won the Indianapolis 500 15 years ago. F1 has not returned. Will it ever happen?
Lewis Hamilton won the last Formula One race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway fifteen years ago today.
Hamilton’s victory in the 2007 United States Grand Prix was only his second of a record-breaking 103 triumphs in Formula One.
“I never believed in a million years that I’d be here today,” Hamilton stated after winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2007.
Hamilton had won the Canadian Grand Prix a week prior, making him the first Black driver to win an F1 race.
After winning at Indy, he commented, “It’s absolutely nuts.” “I’m just trying to enjoy it without being distracted by anything else.”
Josh Allen, James Corden, and Formula One’s most popular crew go behind the scenes with McLaren in Miami.
“He’s Tiger Woods with horsepower,” observed then-IndyStar columnist Bob Kravitz of the 22-year-old rookie.
Hamilton led 66 of the 73 laps, tying for the most in the race, and teamed up with Fernando Alonso to win a pair of front straightaway drag races.
Will Formula One make a comeback to Indianapolis?
That race in 2007 marked the end of an eight-year F1 stint in Indianapolis, and the series didn’t race in the United States again until 2012, when the USGP was relocated to Austin. There are three races in the United States this year: Austin, Las Vegas, and Miami.
The series has a three-year contract with Las Vegas, a new five-year deal with Austin starting in 2022 and a brand-new 10-year agreement with Miami.
A return to Indianapolis seemed improbable.
“Had we not had Vegas, Miami and COTA, I’d say (IMS) would definitely work,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown told IndyStar. “However, I believe we have reached the limit of what we require in America.” I don’t believe there is enough capacity for all we need for this sport to be hugely successful here.”
“IMS? I have difficulty seeing it,” said Haas team boss Guenther Steiner, who served in various roles with the Jaguar and Red Bull F1 teams during the U.S. Grand Prix days at IMS. “Yes, there is space (at the track), but I don’t know commercially if it’s interesting to do it there.”
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Mario Andretti says he’s not sure Indy could produce the celebrity star power and off-track events F1 are prioritizing. “They realize what these people want, and I don’t know if Indy can create that,” he told IndyStar’s Nathan Brown.
More than 20 years ago, IMS set records as it hosted well over 200,000 fans on race day alone for the 2000 U.S. Grand Prix, and though those numbers dipped over the eight-year relationship for myriad reasons (cough, 2005 tire fiasco, cough), attendance still hovered around 100,000 near the end.
“I think we’ve always felt F1 would have a fit here,” IMS president Doug Boles said earlier this year. “We’re the ‘Racing Capital of the World.’ We aren’t on the ocean, but certainly the ‘Racing Capital of the World.’ But while Roger would tell you right now he’d love to have them, we’re busier than we’ve ever been in terms of on-track activity in my 10 years here.
“And now (to host F1 races), you’re bidding against countries that don’t have to make a return. Roger (Penske) is a great business person and has a great passion for motorsports, and I think if he thought, and if Liberty came to us and said, there’s a way you could have an event here and know you’re not going to lose money, I think it would make the conversation easier. But the question is, how do you get there?”