Just Electric

Are Formula E and the Indy 500 linked?

With the Indy 500 round the corner, we take a look back at how this prestigious race –part of the so-called triple crown of motorsports, is linked with Formula E.

For any follower of American racing series, the Month of May has a special flavour that spices up the competition. The Indianapolis 500 is the ultimate race of the month, the one all drivers are in pursuit of, an undeniable meaning of glory in someone’s career.

So when this time of the year arrives, the preparations to see who will kiss the brickyard at the end of the event kick off.

This year’s edition of the race –which is its 102th running, will not have any current Formula E drivers fighting for the win in the world’s most famous oval. However, there is one name that’s stands out in the entry list which all fans of the fully-electric championship may recognise: Oriol Servià.

The Spaniard is a well-known figure in the IndyCar world, and this will be his eleventh participation in the race, having achieved a best 4th place finish in 2012.

Servià had a relatively short spell in Formula E. He raced since the very first event in Beijing, to S1’s Buenos Aires ePrix at the wheel of a Dragon Racing car, nonetheless he was able to score points in those four rounds. His participation in Formula E did not stop there, as he later became a managing director for the American team, a role he also maintained in Season 2.

Mike Conway, who spent most of Season 2 driving for Venturi and had one appearance in S3 at Dragon Racing, qualified three times for the Indianapolis 500.

Another driver who will take part in this year’s Indy 500, who has one Formula E entry to his name, is Marco Andretti. Mario’s grandson and Formula E team owner Michael’s son, raced in the 2015 Buenos Aires ePrix, finishing in P12.

There is a name which cannot go unnoticed if we are discussing links between Formula E and the Indianapolis 500. And obviously, we are talking about Darío Franchitti. The Scot is an IndyCar legend, having won the worldwide famous race three times.

His first came in 2007, driving for Andretti Autosport. Franchitti also won in 2010 and 2012, those times at the wheel of a Chip Ganassi Racing car. Along with his victories at the mythical oval in Indiana, the current Formula E commentator won four championship in IndyCar (2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012).

His experience clearly allows him to openly discuss about all things motorsports, and IndyCar is a subject which Franchitti brings up when commentating the Formula E races. Earlier this year, he told Just Electric that he believes that what IndyCar and Formula E have in common, is the fact that both grids are talent and star-filled.

But Franchitti is not the only winner of the 500-mile race to be involved in the series. Last year’s winner, Takuma Sato, drove in the very first Formula E race for Amlin Aguri. The Japanese driver retired from the race, but was able to set the series’ first ever Fastest Lap.

Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve did also win the prestigious American race in 1995. Twenty years later, he made his Formula E debut in Beijing for the series’ second season. His spell in the fully-electric championship was rather short, taking part in just two races.

We cannot not talk about the Indy 500 without mentioning another driver who was at the wheel of a Formula E car. The late Justin Wilson drove for Andretti at the 2015 Moscow ePrix. He had a rather extensive career in the IndyCar series, participating in 8 Indianapolis 500, with P5 being his best result.

In 2016, his brother Stefan drove in this race paying homage to Justin. This year, the Brit will also participate, driving for Andretti Autosport.

Formula E’s only female point-scorer Simona de Silvestro drove 5 times in the legendary oval, with his 2010 debut being his best result, finishing 14th overall. Katherine Legge, who raced in the first two Formula E races, drove in the 2012 and 2013 editions of the race.

Team have also earned a reputation at this race, and some of them are also part of the FIA Formula E championship. That is the case of Andretti. The Andretti Autosport team has 5 victories, with their last one having been achieved last year.

Dragon Racing has six participations in the Indianapolis 500, with a P5 finish as the team’s best result in their 6-year effort. Team Owner Jay Penske’s father Roger Penske, is one of the most illustrious names in the American racing scene. Only in the Indy 500, Team Penske has a total of 18 victories.

The 500-mile race will start this Sunday, with Ed Carpenter on Pole Position, and 32 drivers behind aiming to open the milk bottle at the end of the race and kiss the bricks. Who will take victory? The race has always been unpredictable and so will be this year.


Photo credits: SB Nation.

Andrea Perilli

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