Josef Newgarden has been on an upward trajectory in IndyCar ever since he joined the series in 2012, improving his position in the championship with every season.
For 2017 he was signed by Penske – the biggest and most competitive IndyCar team – and instantly delivered, winning the title in Sonoma, beating his vastly more experienced teammates.
— Josef Newgarden (@josefnewgarden) September 18, 2017
Conor Daly is a fellow IndyCar driver and good friend of Newgardens. He thinks that his speed and ability to consistently improve shows that he should be on the radar of F1 teams. Speaking to RACER, Daly said:
“Right now, the pace Josef has been on with his steady development, he should be receiving calls from Formula 1 teams. In no way should he not be paid attention to. The guy won the championship in his first season with Roger Penske, and maybe he is receiving calls from Formula 1 teams.”
Newgarden did briefly have a crack at making it in Europe and even raced in GP3 in 2010, but the following year he returned to America where he won the Indy Lights championship (the main feeder series to IndyCar).
Daly (who raced in GP3 and GP2) said that the way Newgarden has progressed shows that the environment in F1 doesn’t give young talent a chance to properly develop.
“It’s hard to accept that a talent like Josef, that we’ve seen for many years, would have been kicked out of the Red Bull system if he had gone to Formula 1. Their deal would be, ‘23rd as a rookie, 14th in Year 2, let’s get rid of him.’ You aren’t given a lot of time to grow, which he’s had now in IndyCar.
“The progression is what’s impressive about Josef. Drivers are always learning, and he’s only been with Penske one year and look what he’s done already. He’s going to be very difficult to beat here in the future if he doesn’t get taken by a Formula 1 team.”
At only 26 Newgarden isn’t exactly old, but despite his obvious talents it seems unlikely that an F1 team would consider him in the future, especially when so many of them are so invested in their own young driver programmes.
Whether Josef would want to leave a top IndyCar seat for a risky spot in F1s midfield is another matter too. But hey, Formula 1s loss is absolutely IndyCars gain!