Not Age: Jimmie Johnson Reveals Key Obstacle to His F1 Dream Despite McLaren’s Heavy Backing

Published 11/12/2021, 1:55 PM EST
DAYTONA, FL – FEBRUARY 15: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Hendrick Motorsports Ally Chevrolet Camaro, during final practice for the Daytona 500 on February 15, 2020 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson is arguably the greatest racing driver from America. Johnson has conquered NASCAR, with seven, record-equalling Cup titles. At 46, he’s still competing wheel to wheel in IndyCar, but he recently revealed that instead of the AeroScreen of IndyCar, it could’ve been the Halo of Formula 1 had things worked out.

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In a recent interview with Graham Bensinger, Johnson revealed he was left so enamoured after his first experience of driving an F1 car that he began ‘asking around’ for ways to compete in Formula 1.

Even McLaren CEO Zak Brown was on board with him on this idea.

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“At the time, the CEO of McLaren Zak Brown, was open to me pursuing the path of Formula 1,” Johnson recalled.

Johnson also described how driving in IndyCar wasn’t his first choice after all. The former stock car racing driver recalled his first experience of driving a McLaren Formula One car opened him to the idea of open-wheel racing cars.

“Being an open-wheel car, high downforce car, just blew my mind when I had the chance to drive the McLaren F1 in car in Bahrain.”

Johnson revealed that McLaren, who also have a team in IndyCar, gave him his first IndyCar experience as well. This experience of a single-seater race car resulted in him finding the energy to pursue IndyCar.

“In the beginning that was really my first opportunity to drive an IndyCar, the McLaren IndyCar.” 

But why Jimmie Johnson couldn’t make it to Formula One?

Even though he had support from Zak Brown, the racing talent and the commitment to succeed, Johnson couldn’t land himself behind a Formula One car. The reason is quite simple.

In order to drive an F1 car, a driver needs to earn an FIA Super License, which Johnson, for all of his success in NASCAR, didn’t have.

“..once I realised, what it took to get the license, that you have to kind of come up through the European Racing series, earn enough points, to earn the license to drive the Formula One car, I was like it’s not gonna work.”

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It’s no secret that Liberty Media are on a mission to make F1 the most loved motorsports on US soil. And they’re finding a lot of success.

But as was clear from the race in Mexico, having a native driver will be the next step.

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Currently, there are many candidates for an American driver in F1, but had it been Jimmie Johnson, one could guarantee F1 hitting a home run in the United States.

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Shaharyar

177 articles

Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A Graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for the better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in the future.

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