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The mixed fortunes of F1 drivers who have raced in the Indy 500

In recent years, several one-time Formula 1 drivers have competed in the Indy 500. For some, there has been greater success than in F1 - but others did not reach quite the same heights.

The Indy 500 is one of the most historic races in the world of motorsport. First held back in 1911, the event has attracted several high-profile names over the years, including many Formula 1 legends. Perhaps one of the most notable is Graham Hill, given that the Briton remains the only driver to ever win the Triple Crown consisting of the Indy 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the F1 Monaco Grand Prix. In more recent years, the appeal of competing in the Indy 500 has not waned. Several one-time Formula 1 drivers have raced in the event since the beginning of the 21st century. For some, it has been a success; in fact, many have achieved greater feats at Indianapolis than in their F1 careers. However, others have not quite mastered the race to quite the same level. Here are some of the F1 drivers to experience the highs and lows of the Indy 500 in the modern era.

Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya has taken part in the Indy 500 both pre and post F1 career - his first appearance came in 2000, one year before his Formula 1 debut with Williams. The Columbian impressively won the event on his first attempt, making him the first person to do so since none other than Graham Hill. Following this, Montoya competed in F1 between 2001 and 2006 before once again racing in the US in Nascar. It was not until 2014 that the former winner returned to the Indy 500 though, where he lined up alongside some other familiar faces to Formula 1 fans, including Jacques Villeneuve, Sebastien Bourdais and Takuma Sato. Montoya finished the race in fifth, and went on to win the event for a second time in 2015. He also took part in the 2016 and 2017 races, and makes his return for the 2021 Indy 500 with the Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet team. Max Chilton In his brief Formula 1 career, Chilton was never realistically able to pose a challenge, having raced for the uncompetitive Marussia team in 2013 and 2014. Since then, the Briton has taken part in several Indy 500s, and even led the 2017 event for 50 laps before being overtaken by Takuma Sato - another F1 alumni - with seven laps to go. Whilst he has not been able to match that performance since, Chilton will try his luck again at the 2021 race.

Takuma Sato Speaking of Sato, the Japanese driver is perhaps one of the greatest F1 to Indy success stories of recent times. Sato never had the opportunity to race with the best equipment in Formula 1, though did manage to finish the 2004 World Championship in eighth place whilst driving for BAR Honda. Following the end of his F1 career, Sato competed in IndyCar and has taken part in the Indy 500 since 2010. It wasn't until 2017, though, that the driver finally won the event. He went on to take his second victory in 2020, though was helped by the race ending under yellow flags, which prevented Scott Dixon from challenging for the win.

Fernando Alonso One of the biggest F1-to-Indy stories of recent years came in 2017, when Alonso - then in what would be his penultimate F1 season with McLaren - skipped the Monaco Grand Prix to compete in the Indy 500. The Spaniard became the first active Formula 1 driver to take part in the event since Teo Fabi in 1984. It was an impressive debut for Alonso, who led for 27 laps before retiring in the closing stages. This led to him being voted Rookie of the Year. During his two-year hiatus from Formula 1, Alonso seemed intent on completing the Triple Crown, having already won the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Spaniard returned to the Indy 500 in 2020, but unfortunately this was not so successful. After qualifying down in 26th, Alonso struggled to make his way through the pack in the race and eventually finished in P21. It seems unlikely that Alonso will be willing to give up on the promise of the Triple Crown. But with his current focus now being on his resumed F1 career with Alpine, the chances of him returning to Indy in the near future are probably small. Alexander Rossi It would be easy to forget Rossi's brief time in F1. The American only competed in five Grand Prix during the 2015 season for the Manor Marussia team before heading to IndyCar in 2016. Fortunately, this move worked out well for him; Rossi, like Montoya before him, became one of the few drivers in history to win on their first attempt. Since then, Rossi has failed to secure another victory but has remained one of the frontrunners at the event. Rossi finished second in the 2019 race and will once again compete in the 2021 event. Jacques Villeneuve Like Montoya, Villeneuve was an Indy 500 winner before ever competing in Formula 1, having won the event in 1995. It wasn't until 2014 that the Canadian took part again in his post-F1 career. Any hopes of recreating the success of 19 years earlier seemed dashed when Villeneuve qualified down in 27th place. He went on to finish in 14th - not too poor a showing considering his starting position, but seemingly not enough to persuade the 1997 F1 World Champion to have another shot, with the race being Villeneuve's last Indy 500 to date.

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