How many F1 drivers have won the Indy 500? Winners, drivers & more

The Indy 500 is nicknamed ‘the greatest spectacle in racing’, but how many Formula 1 drivers have taken it on and won?

How many F1 drivers have won the Indy 500? Winners, drivers & more

Roger Ward – 1959, 1962

  • F1 starts: 12 (1951 – 1960, 1963)
  • F1 championships: 0
  • Indy 500 starts: 15 (1951 – 1964, 1966)
  • Indy 500 wins: 2 (1959, 1962)

The Indy 500 was an official world championship race between 1950 and 1960, meaning that teams and drivers who only competed in the 500 also appear in the final standings of those seasons. It also means that drivers who finished well in the 500 could beat drivers who had a tough F1 season – Ward, for example, won the 1959 Indy 500 and scored eight points in doing so – this finish being enough to beat Graham Hill (who entered seven races that season).

While 10 of Ward’s 12 ‘F1’ starts come from the Indy 500, he did race in two United States Grands Prix, in 1959 and in 1963. Unfortunately for him he failed to finish both of these races, suffering from clutch and gearbox problems respectively.

Outside of F1, Ward was a successful USAC Championship Car driver, winning the title in 1959 and 1962, and finishing top three between 1959 and 1964.

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Roger Ward

Roger Ward

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Jim Clark - 1965

  • F1 starts: 72 (1960 – 1968)
  • F1 championships: 2 (1963, 1965)
  • Indy 500 starts: 5 (1963 – 1967)
  • Indy 500 wins: 1 (1965)

Jim Clark is considered one of the best drivers ever, and still holds the record for the highest percentage of laps led in an F1 season (71.47% in 1963). He was able to apply this talent to multiple series as well, winning the F1 championship twice, the Tasman series three times, and the Indy 500 once before he was tragically killed in 1968.

Having finished second behind Parnelli Jones at the 1963 race, Clark took pole in 1964, but had to settle for 24th place in the race following a suspension issue. He came back the next year and qualified second before going on to win in 1965, leading 190 of the 200 laps in the process and setting a race record. This made him only the second Brit to win the Indy 500, after Dario Resta won in 1916.

Clark would go on to qualify and finish second the next year, finishing behind fellow Brit and F1 driver Graham Hill. Jackie Stewart, also racing in F1 at the time, also took part in the 1966 race, finishing sixth after oil pressure problems robbed him of victory in the closing stages.

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Jim Clark, Lotus 38-Ford

Jim Clark, Lotus 38-Ford

Photo by: Dave Friedman / Motorsport Images

Graham Hill - 1966

  • F1 starts: 176 (1958 – 1975)
  • F1 championships: 2 (1962, 1968)
  • Indy 500 starts: 3 (1966 - 1968)
  • Indy 500 wins: 1 (1966)

Graham Hill is, to date, the only person to win motorsport’s illustrious ‘Triple Crown’ – wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indy 500, and F1’s Monaco Grand Prix (or F1 world championship). While he took one win at both Le Mans and the Indy 500, his five wins in Monaco earned him the nickname ‘Mr Monaco’, and he has the second highest number of wins in the Principality (behind Ayrton Senna on six, and tied with Michael Schumacher).

Hill won the Indy 500 at his first attempt, though this win wasn’t without dispute. While Hill was awarded the win, second-placed Jim Clark’s team also thought they had won the race. Clark had spun twice during the race and was able to continue, and theories postulate that a lap might not have been attributed to Clark as a result. Even Hill was “surprised” to have won the race, however with no official protest launched by Clark or his team, his win still stands today.

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Graham Hill, Lola T90 Ford

Graham Hill, Lola T90 Ford

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Mario Andretti – 1969

  • F1 starts: 128 (1968 – 1972, 1974 – 1982)
  • F1 championships: 1 (1978)
  • Indy 500 starts: 29 (1965 – 1978, 1980 – 1994)
  • Indy 500 wins: 1 (1969)

Mario Andretti competed in the Indy 500 long before (and long after) his F1 career, and has the second highest number of entries to the Indy 500 – his 29 starts being beaten only by four-time winner AJ Foyt’s 35 starts. He also holds the record for the most races between pole positions, having taken pole in 1966, 1967, and 1987.

Andretti’s 1969 Indy 500 win was a dominating one – starting from second on the grid, Andretti led 116 of the 200 laps, finishing over two minutes ahead of F1 contemporary Dan Gurney.

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Andretti competed in F1 and Indycar simultaneously towards the end of his F1 career. Six years after his F1 crown with Lotus, Andretti won the 1984 CART title to add to his hat-trick of Indycar crowns during the USAC era in 1965, 1966 and 1969. As well as winning the 1969 Daytona 500, Andretti added a class win at Le Mans, finishing second overall.

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Mario Andretti

Mario Andretti

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Mark Donohue - 1972

  • F1 starts: 14 (1971, 1974 – 1975)
  • F1 championships: 0
  • Indy 500 starts: 5 (1969 – 1973)
  • Indy 500 wins: 1 (1972)

Mark Donohue only had 14 starts in F1 before he was killed in an incident during practice for the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix, but he’d already scored one podium. He’d also taken three wins in USAC and a win in NASCAR, as well as successes in Trans-Am and Can-Am, proving his versatility.

He made a total of five starts in the Indy 500, qualifying in the top five of all races. His fourth attempt, racing a McLaren for Penske, was the most successful as he crossed the line first, and with a gap of over three minutes to second-placed Al Unser. It was also McLaren’s first Indy 500 win, scored with the M16.

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Roger Penske; Mark Donohue

Roger Penske; Mark Donohue

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Danny Sullivan - 1985

  • F1 starts: 15 (1983)
  • F1 Championships: 0
  • Indy 500 starts: 12 (1982, 1984 – 1995)
  • Indy 500 wins: 1 (1985)

Sullivan raced in F1 for just one year, picking up a single points finish at Monaco, before returning to his home country and racing Indycars. His time in the American series offered much more success as he took a total of 17 wins from 170 starts – one of those wins being in the Indy 500.

Sullivan made 12 Indy 500 starts and won one of them – the 1985 edition – while retiring from eight others. He was almost forced to retire from the 1985 race as well – having gone for a move on then-leader Mario Andretti, Sullivan lost control and did a full 360-degree spin but somehow avoided hitting anything and was able to continue. From there he resumed his chase on Andretti and, on lap 140, he took the lead, holding onto it until the finish.

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Danny Sullivan

Danny Sullivan

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Emerson Fittipaldi – 1989, 1993

  • F1 starts: 144 (1970 – 1980)
  • F1 championships: 2 (1972, 1974)
  • Indy 500 starts: 11 (1984 – 1995)
  • Indy 500 wins: 2 (1989, 1993)

Emerson Fittipaldi is one of F1’s most well-known names, and during his time in F1 he racked up 14 wins, two championships and 35 podiums, making him the third most-successful Brazilian F1 driver after Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet.

Race of My Life: Emerson Fittipaldi on the 1972 Italian GP

After nearly 11 seasons in F1 he moved to Indycar, where he secured another championship (in 1989), as well as two Indy 500 wins. His first Indy 500 win came in 1989, when he finished two laps ahead of Al Unser Jr. in second place (having collided with him on the 198th lap).

His second, in 1993, came from a late-race overtake on former F1 driver Nigel Mansell. While this win made him the third-oldest person to win the Indy 500, it was his antics after the race that gained more attention.

The winner of the Indy 500 typically drinks milk, a long-standing marketing stunt with what was then called the Milk Foundation. This had happened most years, and every year since 1956, however Fittipaldi refused. He instead drank orange juice, as he owned an orange juice farm, refusing to even hold the milk bottle. This snub caused much controversy, leading to boos and heckles at the next race.

Emerson Fittipaldi, Team Penske

Emerson Fittipaldi, Team Penske

Photo by: Sutton Images

Jacques Villeneuve – 1995

  • F1 starts: 163 (1996 – 2006)
  • F1 championships: 1 (1997)
  • Indy 500 starts: 3 (1994 - 1995, 2014)
  • Indy 500 wins: 1 (1995)

Unlike a lot of people on this list, Jacques Villeneuve won the Indy 500 before he went to F1.

Joining the Indycar grid in 1994, his first season netted him three podiums – one third, a second place at the Indy 500, and a win at the Road America circuit – before his storming 1995 season.

Much like Villeneuve’s F1 career, his Indy 500 win was not without controversy or drama. On lap 38 he was, unbeknown to him, leading the race when the pace car came out so that marshals could retrieve debris on the circuit. The rules stated that the leader was supposed to line up behind the pace car but, with Villeneuve not knowing he was leading, he passed it twice. When the race restarted he was given a two-lap penalty, dropping him to 27th place.

Pace car problems were not done yet though. By lap 189 the field was again behind the pace car, with Villeneuve in second behind Scott Goodyear. Anticipating the restart on lap 190, Goodyear slowed to create a gap to the pace car, then accelerated. Villeneuve followed and the two gapped third place, but the pace car was still circulating.

Noticing that they would catch the pace car before it entered the pits Villeneuve slowed. Goodyear didn’t, overtaking it in the middle of the last turn. This earned him a stop-and-go penalty, which he chose to ignore and, with five laps to go, the sanctioning body stopped scoring him. This meant that Villeneuve inherited the win, becoming the first, and only, Canadian to win the Indy 500, and went on to secure the CART title.

Jacques Villeneuve, Team Green

Jacques Villeneuve, Team Green

Photo by: Sutton Images

Eddie Cheever – 1998

  • F1 starts: 132 (1978, 1980 – 1989)
  • F1 championships: 0
  • Indy 500 starts: 14 (1990 – 2002, 2006)
  • Indy 500 wins: 1 (1998)

Eddie Cheever started 132 world championship F1 races, and failed to qualify for 11 more. He scored nine podiums, and during his time in F1 he was team-mates with some of the biggest names in the sport; he partnered Jacques Laffite in 1982, Alain Prost in 1983, and Riccardo Patrese from 1984 to 1985. Unfortunately for Cheever he didn’t particularly shine in F1, his season-best being a seventh place in 1983 (when Renault team-mate Prost finished second), but he did find more success in America.

Following the CART/IRL split, Cheever’s first win came at the 1997 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World, which he followed up with a win at the Indy 500 in 1998. In total he took a win in every IRL season between 1997 and 2001, finishing third in the 1996-97 and 2000 seasons.

Eddie Cheever, Jr.

Eddie Cheever, Jr.

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Juan Pablo Montoya – 2000, 2015

  • F1 starts: 94 (2001 – 2006)
  • F1 championships: 0
  • Indy 500 starts: 5 (2000, 2014 – 2017)
  • Indy 500 wins: 2 (2000, 2015)

Juan Pablo Montoya is another driver who spent time in Indycar before F1, entering the F1 paddock as an Indy 500 champion. The Colombian took the first of his two Indy 500 victories in 2000, one year before his F1 debut, and led the CART invasion of the IRL race. It was a dominant performance from the then rookie, with Montoya leading 167 laps of the 200-lap race and finishing over seven seconds ahead of second place.

Following his F1 time at Williams and McLaren, during which he scored seven wins and twice finished third in the world championship, he returned to the Indy 500 in 2014. This time he had to settle for fifth but Montoya won again the following year. His 2015 victory was much less commanding though – his winning margin just 0.1s over Australian Will Power.

With 15 years between his first and second wins, Montoya currently holds the record for most races between Indy 500 victories. He’s also one of only 10 rookie winners (alongside other F1 drivers Graham Hill and Alexander Rossi), and is the eighth youngest driver to win the 500 (behind F1 drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Rossi).

Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Alexander Rossi – 2016

  • F1 starts: 5 (2015)
  • F1 championships: 0
  • Indy 500 starts: 5 (2016 - 2020)
  • Indy 500 wins: 1 (2016)

Alexander Rossi made his F1 debut in 2015, racing for the ill-fated Manor Marussia team at five of the final seven races of the season. The car wasn’t nearly at the level it needed to be, with the team scoring no points in the entire season, though Rossi was able to finish ahead of team-mate Will Stevens (who was with them for all 19 races) in four of his five races.

A switch to IndyCar for the 2016 proved much more fruitful for the American though, as he won the Indy 500 on his first attempt (becoming only the 10th rookie to win in its history). It was a nail-biter as well – with 10 laps to go the leaders started to come into the pits for fuel, however Rossi gambled and stayed out. With one lap to go he had a 20-second lead, but this dropped to just 4.4s by the time the flag fell.

While he hasn’t been able to replicate the success of his rookie Indy 500, he has become one of IndyCar’s frontrunners, taking second in the 2018 standings. He was also second in the 2019 Indy 500, proving his talent wasn’t quite on show in F1.

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

Takuma Sato – 2017, 2020

  • F1 starts: 90 (2002 – 2008)
  • F1 championships: 0
  • Indy 500 starts: 11 (2010 – 2020)
  • Indy 500 wins: 2 (2017, 2020)

Takuma Sato never found much success in F1, competing in often mediocre machinery and scoring only 14 points finishes (including a single podium in the 2004 United States Grand Prix), though he did star for the small Super Aguri squad in 2007.

A switch to IndyCar in 2010 brought some fortune, with Sato finding the podium five times in his first six seasons. However, by 2016 he’d only been in the top 10 at the end of a season in the top tier once (an eighth in the 2004 F1 season at BAR, when team-mate Jenson Button was third). His luck changed in 2017 though.

Starting from the second row of the Indy 500 grid, Sato stayed in and around the front pack and was one of 15 different leaders (an Indy 500 record). Luckily for him he was the leader at the end, taking victory by just 0.201s from Helio Castroneves.

Just three years later Sato won again, this time with some good fortune as the race finished under yellows, preventing Scott Dixon – who had done most of the leading – from launching a late attack.

Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images


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