This year’s Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud says that for all his success in the US IndyCar Series, his early dream was always to race in Formula 1.
“When I was four years old, I saw Senna and Prost fighting,” he told Motorsport-Magazin.com. “That was what sparked my passion for motorsport.
“I would love to test a Formula 1 car. They are the most advanced cars on the planet. But racing is of course another story.”
Pageuand was a guest of the Renault team at the Hungarian Grand Prix in the summer where he got to “meet some people”, but he doesn’t realistically expect anything to come of it.
“I’d like to give it a try to see what the cars are like. It would be nice. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”
While other Indy 500 winners in the past have been able to use their success in US open wheel racing to make the move into F1 – including Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya – Pagenaud admits that this is unlikely in his case.
At 35 years of age, the French-born driver acknowledges that he’s probably missed his chance to get into a strong team, especially with so many talented youngsters such as Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris already breaking through.
Pagenaud said he wouldn’t want to go somewhere just to make up the numbers. “My goal is to win races and championships,” he insisted.
In IndyCar, he clinched the series title in 2016 (and was runner-up in 2017 and again in 2019) and has won 14 races in 127 outings over seven years, most recently with the prestigious Penske team.
That’s more than vindicated his decision in 2006 to quit the expensive European tour – and his chances of breaking into F1 – to move to the United States to complete in Champ Car and the American Le Mans Series.
“That was my path, and I succeeded,” he stated.
While the F1 dream might no longer be in his sights, there’s still plenty he wants to do in motorsport. “For example I want to go back to Le Mans and win this race,” he said, adding that it would be satisfying to “finish the job I started.”
But right now he has no intention of going anywhere other than where he is, and continue to race in IndyCar for years to come.
“My future is what I am doing in IndyCar,” he confirmed.
“It would mean the world to me to be the most successful driver in Indianapolis,” he said. “But of course, this dream is still a long way off.”