Race Weekend Central

F1 Drivers in NASCAR: Who’s Next?

With the NASCAR season complete and the Formula 1 calendar winding down, it’s time for an offseason tradition: wishful thinking about world-class drivers switching disciplines for fun.

Fernando Alonso might have kicked this wishful thinking into high gear by dabbling in IndyCar, IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, but former F1 stars from Juan Pablo Montoya to Nelson Piquet Jr. have previously made full-time commitments to NASCAR. And with F1 streaming popularity in the US at an all-time high thanks to the influence of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, it may be time for another…

Or at least a one-off with Trackhouse Racing’s PROJECT91, like Kimi Raikkonen had at Watkins Glen. So, without further ado, here are the F1 drivers we’d most like to see give NASCAR a shot.

Daniel Ricciardo

While the most open NASCAR fan on the F1 grid all but ruled out a full-time move to NASCAR earlier this year while speaking to Insider, the Australian did mention that a one-off road course appearance wouldn’t be the last thing on his mind.

Ricciardo has been a fan of NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt Sr. since his childhood, and chose No. 3 as his racing number for that reason. Ricciardo also turned laps in Dale Sr.’s 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo during the 2021 United States Grand Prix weekend at the Circuit of the Americas.

Ovals or not, Ricciardo has caught the NASCAR bug.

Fernando Alonso

Why shouldn’t the two-time World Champion add to his illustrious resume with a turn in tin-tops? After a 2018 seat swap saw Alonso wheel a Cup car around Bahrain’s F1 venue, everyone from McLaren CEO Zak Brown to seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson called on Alonso to give stock cars a serious try.

With a second retirement likely after the Spaniard’s new multi-year deal with Aston Martin runs its course, we’d love to see Alonso Stateside again. And so would Jeff Gordon.

Sebastian Vettel

Although the four-time World Champion will be leaving the F1 grid at the end of the 2022 season, we can hold out hope that we’ll see Seb on the track somewhere, right?

Though the German has followed an open-wheel career trajectory, he has represented his country at the Race of Champions on numerous occasions, competing and winning in various cars. Clearly Vettel can adapt to different machinery and be competitive given the opportunity; it would be a shame if we never saw his abilities in a stock car on display.

Sergio Perez

The Mexican journeyman got a well-earned shot at the front when Red Bull snapped him up for 2021, and since then has served as a solid support act to teammate Max Verstappen.

But did you know Checo’s older brother was a NASCAR driver? Antonio Perez won the 2008 NASCAR Mexico Series championship, and made his first of seven NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in the 2007 race in Mexico City.

If NASCAR commits to running a Cup race south of the border (a real possibility) adding Perez to the field would certainly energize the local crowd.

The data shows it: the Drive to Survive effect is real. While we’re waiting for its NASCAR clone Race for the Championship to take off, why not shortcut the process by bringing in one of F1’s Netflix stars for a featured role?

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

Jack Swansey primarily covers open-wheel racing for Frontstretch and co-hosts The Pit Straight Podcast, but you can also catch him writing about NASCAR, sports cars, and anything else with four wheels and a motor. Originally from North Carolina and now residing in Los Angeles, he joined the site as Sunday news writer midway through 2022 and is an avid collector (some would say hoarder) of die-cast cars.

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