French IndyCar drivers in statistics

Romain Grosjean (2021 – current)

  • IndyCar Starts: 18th
  • win: 0
  • Podium places: 4th
  • Poles: 1
  • Start at the Indy 500: 0
  • Milk chosen in case of victory: whole

Since his horrific accident during the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, the career of Romain Grosjean took a positive turn. Regularly criticized (sometimes rightly, often harshly) during his final years in Formula 1, the Franco-Swiss made sure everyone was on the same page in his first season with IndyCar in 2021. Back on the circuit, despite a burned hand, in a car he was unfamiliar with before crossing the Atlantic, Grosjean took his first pole in his third race, which he converted to a podium the next day during the Indianapolis Grand Prix. The ex-Haas rider signed two more climbs on the pits in 2021: a second at Indianapolis and a final at Laguna Seca, in a race marked by a crazy comeback.

In a new championship and at the wheel of a single-seater that wasn’t supposed to be up front, his 15th place in the final standings was a promising result. Especially since Grosjean skipped the first three rounds held on an oval (including the Indianapolis 500 Miles). The Geneva native, who signed for Gateway (14th) last season and retired this season in Texas, will be discovering the electric atmosphere of the Indy 500 this year. Will he be able to perform? The Indianapolis street circuit is by far the layout that suits it best. But in a race where experience is the keyword, a top 10 finish would already be an excellent result.

Simon Pagenaud (2012 – current)

Simon Pagenaud, runner-up at the 2022 Indianapolis Grand Prix

  • IndyCar starts: 173
  • Wins: 15
  • Podium places: 38
  • Poland: 13th
  • Indy 500 starts: 10th
  • Indy 500 win: 1st
  • Champion 2016
  • Milk chosen in case of victory: whole

Simon Pagenaud has by far the best track record of any Frenchman across the Atlantic. For his tenth season in the American single-seater elite, the Viennese is taking on a new challenge by moving to Meyer Shank Racing. A choice that follows a complicated exercise in 2021, finishing eighth in the standings with two podiums. The Frenchman then found himself in the shadow of his teammates on the prestigious Penske team. But this season, below his standards, hasn’t taken anything away from his record that would make the vast majority of drivers envious: Pagenaud clinched the title in 2016 and won the Indy 500 three years later.

The first Frenchman to win at the Indianapolis Oval since 1920 and the only Frenchman to win the title in the discipline, Pagenaud had a distinguished career and moved to the United States at a very young age. The 22-year-old Champ Car Atlantic champion (antechamber of Champ Car, competitor and ancestor of IndyCar in its current form) quickly put F1 aside to focus on the United States and Endurance, which also smiled at him: he was becoming more notable Second in the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours with Peugeot. But that life choice has paid off for the most American Frenchman who feels right at home in Uncle Sam’s country: well respected in the paddock, Pagenaud never goes anywhere without his dog! Will it bring him luck in Indianapolis? In mid-May, the Frenchman finished second at the Grand Prix on the road circuit, his best result in a year. One thing is certain: the trust is there.

Sebastian Bourdais (2005 – 2021)

Sébastien Bourdais in 2021, his final season with IndyCar

Sébastien Bourdais in 2021, his final season with IndyCar

  • IndyCar starts: 153
  • Wins: 6
  • Podium finishes: 12th
  • Poland: 4th
  • Indy 500 starts: 9th
  • Indy 500 win: 0

Another special route that of Sebastian Bourdais. Like Pagenaud, the Manceau quickly turned to the United States: at 24 he switched to Champ Car before winning four titles over the next four seasons. The special feature of his career is that he managed to return to Formula 1 in 2008. In a spirited Toro Rosso (who tricked him at his best chances for big points) and against a future four-time world champion (personified by Sebastian Vettel) Bourdais crossed the Atlantic again in 2010.

Bourdais was put aside by AJ Foyt in 2020 (after contesting just three races) and reinstated the following year. Bourdais was not renewed this season. He remains the second Frenchman to have competed in the most IndyCar events (153 starts), leaving behind some bright moments, particularly in his best 2018 season, which ended in seventh overall and a win. Today, Bourdais is dedicated to endurance: on the Sarthe track, just a few steps from his home, the local has finished second three times and won in LMGTE Pro in 2016.

Frank Montagny (2009 – 2014)

Franck Montagny at Andretti for his only 2014 IndyCar race in Indianapolis

Franck Montagny at Andretti for his only 2014 IndyCar race in Indianapolis

  • Departures with IndyCar: 2
  • win: 0
  • Podium: 0
  • pole: 0
  • Start at the Indy 500: 1st
  • Indy 500 win: 0

Of all the single-seaters that drove by Frank Montagny Figure the IndyCar. As a consultant and commentator for Canal+, Fernando Alonso’s test driver took part in two American Championship races between 2003 and 2005, one of which was the Indy 500.

His first Grand Prix at IndyCar was in Sonoma in 2009 for the final race of the season. Montagny qualified in an impressive eighth place but was caught in a collision at the first turn and the Frenchman had to resign. His second chance came five years later in Indianapolis, still in the prestigious Andretti team, with which he was involved in Formula E. In his first on an oval, the Frenchman finished 22nd.

Frank Perera (2008)

Franck Perera in 2008 in Saint Petersburg

Franck Perera in 2008 in Saint Petersburg

  • IndyCar starts: 4th
  • win: 0
  • Podium: 0
  • pole: 0
  • Start at the Indy 500: 0
  • Indy 500 win: 0

Predestined for Formula 1 (thanks to a long contract with Toyota at the very beginning of his career to support him with promotion formulas), Frank Perra did not go beyond a few private test sessions with the Japanese manufacturer. He was released in 2006 after a difficult season in GP2 with DAMS that ended a six-year association.

Perera will then go to the USA, where he will give his career new impetus. A multiple winner at Champ Car Atlantic and Indy Lights, the lack of financial support allowed him only four starts in the big American category, with the best result being sixth place at Long Beach in 2008. the Endurance and the GT, that of the Frenchman steered, notably with a champion title in ELMS in 2015.

John Alesi (2012)

Jean Alesi is now a consultant and worked freelance at the Indy 500

Jean Alesi is now a consultant and worked freelance at the Indy 500

  • Departure in the IndyCar: 1
  • win: 0
  • Podium: 0
  • pole: 0
  • Start at the Indy 500: 1st
  • Indy 500 win: 0

True darling of the tifosi, that’s what he is in Formula 1 John Alesi wrote the best pages of his career. But few remember what followed his 13 seasons in motorsport’s elite. However, the program of the Avignonais was always loaded!

DTM, Speedcar Series, LMS… In the midst of all these categories, the Frenchman has made his own in the IndyCar, and not just any since he competed in the Indy 500 in 2012. However, the experience turned into a fiasco: his car, which was equipped with an underperforming Lotus engine, received a black flag, causing Alesi to retire after just eleven laps. He and Simona de Silvestro (also equipped with a Lotus engine) were simply too slow… An experience from which the winner of the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix drew little positive, but which in no way matched the great CV of the current Canal+- consultant belittled .

Tristan Vautier (2013 – 2017)

Tristan Vautier in Dale Coyne Racing colors

Tristan Vautier in Dale Coyne Racing colors

  • IndyCar Starts: March 31
  • win: 0
  • Podium: 0
  • pole: 0
  • Indy 500 starts: 2nd
  • Indy 500 win: 0

Less known to the general public, Tristan Vautier only played one full season at IndyCar in 2013. The Frenchman landed in the premier class of American singles by winning the 2012 Indy Lights Championship, offering himself €800,000 in prize money for a place in the higher category.

From a purely statistical point of view, the lack of wins and podiums indicates that Vautier was not at the top of the basket. However, the Frenchman won the title of best rookie in 2013 after a regular season for a rookie. His best finish came in 2015, in his second season in the championship, with a fourth-place finish in Detroit. Vautier will then compete in a single race in Texas in 2017, which he will lead before being forced to retire. Should he have any regrets? Not really: Vautier has definitely excelled in endurance. The driver, who is committed to IMSA in 2022, already has three podiums in five races.

Nelson-Philippe (2009)

Nelson Philippe at the 2009 Indy 500

Nelson Philippe at the 2009 Indy 500

  • Departures with IndyCar: 2
  • win: 0
  • Podium: 0
  • pole: 0
  • Start at the Indy 500: 1st
  • Indy 500 win: 0

Nelson Philip is one of those pilots who quickly turned to the United States. Engaged in the Champ Car at just 17 years old, he became the youngest driver in the category in 2004. A team change followed after just five races, a necessary step for the Frenchman to gain confidence and become more and more regular in his results. In 2006, when he was just 20 years old, Philippe became the youngest winner in Champ Car history by winning at Surfers Paradise, taking over that record from a certain Scott Dixon.

Born in Valence, the Frenchman waited until 2009 to discover IndyCar, a championship in which he competed in two races. His baptism takes place in Indianapolis, where his retired race ended. After winning back a spot from Conquest Racing (for the Sonoma race) at the end of the season, a serious accident during practice ended his involvement in the discipline. A year later, Philippe announced that he was retiring from motorsport.

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