IndyCar vs Formula 1 car: Technical Comparison

The Teams and Drivers

In Formula 1, the organization of teams and drivers is fairly straightforward: there are 10 teams, and each team has two drivers that generally compete with said team for an entire season. Potential new teams need to petition the existing teams, F1, and the FIA to be able to join.

In IndyCar, there really aren’t any rules on that front, which can make things tough for new viewers. In 2022, for example, 13 (0r 17, depending on how you count) teams competed, and 37 drivers competed at least one race in the season.

That’s because IndyCar is far more flexible; while stability is always great, the sport also just wants as many teams and drivers to enter as possible to continue growing the sport. As a result, larger and more well-funded teams can run as many cars as they desire; for example, Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing both ran five drivers in five cars at certain events. Other teams, like DragonSpeed/Cusick, only entered one race.

There are a lot of reasons for all this diversity. Because IndyCar’s schedule features a blend of ovals, road courses, and street circuits, some teams will hire drivers to contest specific circuits. Ed Carpenter, for example, only competes on ovals. Callum Ilott, meanwhile, only contested road courses and street circuits in 2022. Other teams, like Paretta Autosport, selected a handful of select events to contest in order to continue building the team’s profile.

And the Indy 500 always serves as an outlier event. The race traditionally sees 33 cars take the green flag, so many teams will add one or two additional cars for that race in hopes of bettering their odds of winning. Other teams prepare a car to specifically run for the 500.

Plus, IndyCar teams often change their liveries, making it challenging to tune into a race and keep all its entrants straight.

The best way to learn about the current field is to explore the driver pages on IndyCar’s website.

The Championship Format

IndyCar’s championship format is hugely different than the one you’ll find in F1. Many European series sanctioned by the FIA will share the same points-giving format — but IndyCar doesn’t follow that format. It has its own.

The biggest difference here is that every driver scores points based on their classified finishing position. You can finish dead last in the Indy 500 and still count five points toward your overall season total. You can also rack up additional points for scoring pole position, leading at least one lap, and leading the most laps of anyone. This often keeps championship battles close, leading to multi-driver battles for the win at the end of the year.

We’ve included the breakdown of points below, but you can learn more about the nuance of championship points for both competitors and manufacturers on IndyCar’s website.

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Image: IndyCar

Street Circuits, Road Courses, and Ovals

Each IndyCar season is composed of a diverse blend of street circuits, road courses, and oval tracks, which enables drivers and teams to test their merit on a wide array of distinct circuit styles that each require a unique set of skills. American motorsport has a long history of oval-track competition, which is distinct from the more European-style emphasis on natural-terrain road courses or city streets.

You can check out the full IndyCar schedule here. In 2023, there will be five street circuit races, five oval races, and seven road course races — a ratio that remains pretty similar from one season to the next.

How Do I Watch a Race?

If you live in America, you can watch every IndyCar race live on NBC, USA, or streaming service Peacock; the IndyCar schedule page on its website features viewing information for Americans each race. If you live abroad, you can check out IndyCar’s website for more viewing info.

Where Can I Learn More About IndyCar?

We’ve only just scratched the surface of what IndyCar holds with this story, but as you might have gathered, IndyCar is full of rich history, great stories, and goofy personalities. We can, at the very least, direct you where you need to go for more!

To learn about the drivers:

To catch up on races:

For more basics:

For historical context: