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NASCAR legend Gordon reveals F1 switch decision dilemma

NASCAR legend Gordon reveals F1 switch decision dilemma

F1 News

NASCAR legend Gordon reveals F1 switch decision dilemma

NASCAR legend Gordon reveals F1 switch decision dilemma

NASCAR great Jeff Gordon has revealed just how close he came to becoming an F1 driver in the early 2000s.

Four-time champion Gordon tested with Williams at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2003 at a test with then-Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who would eventually join the American in NASCAR.

Despite the switch to single-seater racing never materialising, the 49-year-old has given an insight into the multiple conversations he had with teams looking to bring him to F1.

"There were a lot of discussions that went on that got more serious than I thought they would after that because I did have so much fun with it," Gordon told the 'Beyond the Grid' podcast.

"Then I started thinking, 'Could I train my neck enough to do this? Could I learn the tracks? Could I be competitive?' To me, I thought it was too steep a climb to accomplish.

"I was at a point... the opportunity somewhat did come along. I went to the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona and was just on vacation really, just walking around. It happened to be when the F1 race was happening so we went to the race.

"Jimmie Johnson was actually with me and all of a sudden a couple of people were like 'Hey, such and such would like to talk to you'. I am over in the Jaguar paddock and 'Hey, tell us about what is going on with your future, we saw you drove the Williams'.

"It probably was, more than anything, did I have any money to bring to F1 and did I want to be an F1 driver?"

Adding that further talks took place with Williams, Gordon added: "I sat down with Frank [Williams], I think he came to Indianapolis after that test for the actual race.

"I went and sat down with him and talked about it. I think it might have been a similar type of probe.

"It never got seriously anywhere and at that time I didn't expect it to because I was so established in NASCAR that... eight years prior to that had that happened, it might have been a different conversation."

Villeneuve involved in early Gordon-F1 talks

Jacques Villeneuve, another driver who made the switch from American league to F1, tried to play a hand in giving Gordon a chance in the sport in the late-90s.

"Jacques was a part of the conversations when he was at BAR, when that was all being formed, I think they wanted an American driver and somehow I had gotten on the list," explained Gordon.

"We had a lot of discussions but the discussions were 'You gotta go test an IndyCar, you gotta test...' at that time it was, I don't know, whatever the formula was in Europe.

"I think that was around 1998 and 1999 so I had just won my third championship and so things were hot for me in NASCAR.

"So when I looked, it was like 'You want me to leave? I am with the best team winning races, winning championships and I am going to have to leave this and start my career all over basically and go and learn how to be a road racer and in an open-wheel, rear-engined car?'

"I was like man that is fun to talk about but again, it doesn't seem realistic. Both of those opportunities came my way and were fun discussions but never went anywhere because I love NASCAR and I just didn't see where me starting over at that point was reality."


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