The best news in the motorsport firmament from the past week has been that the 2019 Indycar season will be shown on the Sky Sports F1 platform. It’s not as though being able to watch Indycar racing in the UK is anything new, the series has been shown on some channel or another ever since satellite television came to these shores in the late 1980s, but this latest move gives America’s premier single-seat series added status.
Formula One has long been the king of the motorsport jungle, so anything else on Sky Sports F1 will only have ‘undercard’ status, but it means that those whose motorsport fix begins and ends with F1 on TV won’t have to go anywhere else to find what can arguably be regarded as the world’s best racing series.
For far too long F1 coverage has been commented on by tedious keyboard warriors who “don’t watch F1 any more because it’s so boring. I miss the days of Senna, Prost and Mansell in real cars and on proper tracks.” Well, you miserable buggers, the real cars and proper tracks are back and it’s called Indycar and you can watch all the races and qualifying sessions for £10 a month with 21 F1 grands prix thrown in for free.
Modern Indycar racing is what F1 used to be. Evenly matched cars with powerful engines and not much aerodynamic grip. The driver makes the difference. The circuits are ‘old school’: classic street tracks, including Long Beach, daunting road circuits such as Road America and Laguna Seca, and fearsome super speedways in the form of Indianapolis and Pocono.
Indycar isn’t scared to innovate, see the double-header weekend in Detroit in June with races on the Saturday and Sunday, and is comfortable enough in its own skin to not worry about comparisons with F1 as on March 24 there is a race at the track in Austin that is used for the United States Grand Prix. Testing has shown that the Indycars will be 12 to 14 seconds a lap slower around the Circuit of the Americas than a contemporary F1 car, but then so would a late-1980s grand prix car, the type that is so sorely missed.
Over the past fortnight, pre-season F1 testing has shown that there is plenty to be excited about the year ahead. The performance of the cars is truly staggering, the talent on the grid is unrivalled and F1 will maintain its status as the main event, the biggest show in motorsport. But starting next weekend in St Petersburg, Florida (on a track that is on the city streets but has a start/finish straight on an airport runway) there is the first of 17 Indycar races that will run through to September. Even if F1 is your thing, but you’ve been starting to wonder why, give Indycar a go.
By putting Indycar on their F1 channel, Sky might just have pulled off a masterstroke because this is motor racing as it was, and as it is meant to be.