Mario Andretti is one the most famous IndyCar and Formula One drivers of his era, he won the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in 1965, 66, 69 and 1984.
In 1979 Andretti won the Formula One world championship with the Lotus team. Today he is still heavily involved in motorsport as he is an ambassador for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Andretti is also still involved in the IndyCar Series and is a regular at the circuit, his son Michael runs the Andretti Autosport team and his grandson Marco races for the Andretti Autosport team. Paddock Eye was a granted an interview with Mario and I started by asking him:
The Verizon IndyCar Series will have two ex-Formula One drivers on the grid with Max Chilton and Alexander Rossi joining the field. Why do you think that IndyCar has become an attractive career option for Formula One drivers?
Mario: Max Chilton and Alexander Rossi are two aspiring young men with infinite potential. They’re trying to make their mark. IndyCar is a true alternative and a great opportunity for a driver to expand their skills, not only on road courses, but on short ovals and super speedways.
This year is a historic year for the Indianapolis 500 which will see the all-female Grace Autosport team competing at the race, how do you think they will do?
Mario: I have no idea how they will do, but I hope they do well because they are an asset to the field. Also, because of the magnitude of the event, it’s a great opportunity for them to showcase their skills.
The Haas F1 Team will make their Formula One debut in Melbourne and have been very competitive and reliable and their involvement in the sport has peaked interest in the sport in America one again. Would you like to see the name Andretti back in Formula One either with a driver or possibly a team in the sport?
Mario: I’d like to see the Andretti name in Formula One in any capacity, but preferably as a driver.
Chevrolet and Honda appear to be very evenly matched once again this season. How do you see the opening races of the championship playing out, do you think we might see a few surprise results?
Mario: I think you can always brace yourself for a surprise. The opening of the season will give everyone an idea where each of the brands stands in terms of strength and competition.
If you could race any car (IndyCar or F1) past or present which car would you pick and what circuit would you choose?
Mario: A Mercedes at Spa
What race besides the Indianapolis 500 are you most looking forward to on the IndyCar calendar this season and why?
Mario: Pocono because it’s near my home and an extremely challenging super speedway