What would an Olympic-style medals table look like in F1 and IndyCar?

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The timing of the Olympic Games in Rio couldn’t be better for racing fans.

In F1’s three-week summer break, we’ve got plenty of sport to keep us occupied before the grand prix season resumes at the end of the month in Belgium, while IndyCar’s lull between Mid-Ohio and Pocono has also come at a good time.

Naturally, the focus on Rio has led to the four-yearly debate as to why motorsport isn’t an Olympic event.

The closest thing we currently have to a nation versus nation battle is the Race of Champions, last won by England in London last November.

A1 GP was a series based entirely on nations going head-to-head, and proved to be a decent feeder series, with the likes of Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Oliver Jarvis, Loic Duval, Marco Andretti, JR Hildebrand and Charlie Kimball all racing before it folded in 2009.

So in the absence of motorsport at the Olympic Games, we have to play ‘what would be’.

Here’s how the medal tables would look like in Formula 1 and IndyCar, based on the results in 2016 so far.

Naturally, a first-place finish equals a gold medal, with silver for second and bronze for third.


When it comes to F1, it’s worth noting that the Olympic-style medals system was actually considered ahead of the 2009 season.

Bernie Ecclestone wanted to place a greater emphasis on winning races so that drivers would not just settle for second, so suggested that the champion be whichever driver won the most grands prix.

The idea was ultimately binned – thankfully, as Jenson Button won six of the opening seven races that year and would have wrapped up the title with three races to spare.

So what would the 2016 medals table look like?

1 Great Britain 6 2 1 9
2 Germany 5 4 3 12
3 Netherlands 1 2 1 4
4 Finland 0 2 3 5
5 Australia 0 2 1 3
6 Mexico 0 0 2 2
7 Russia 0 0 1 1

Just as in the actual drivers’ championship, Great Britain is on top thanks to Lewis Hamilton. His six victories in the past seven races vault Team GB ahead of Germany, the three-time world champion being responsible for all nine of its medals.

Germany is one of just two nations on the table to have more than one driver contributing to its haul, which is, in fact, more than Great Britain’s. Nico Rosberg offers five golds, a silver and a bronze, Sebastian Vettel chipping in with three silvers and two bronzes.

Despite only winning four medals, the Netherlands sits third thanks to Max Verstappen’s victory in Spain. Finland follows in fourth, its medals being split between Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas.

Daniel Ricciardo has been in superb form this season, sitting third in the drivers’ championship, but he has scored just three podium finishes to put Australia fifth in the medals table. Only Mexico (two bronzes via Sergio Perez) and Russia (one bronze thanks to Daniil Kvyat) rank lower.


Despite having a greater number of different podium finishers (14) through the season than F1 (9), IndyCar’s medals table still only features seven nations – but only one appears on both tables: Australia.

1 France 5 3 0 8
2 Australia 3 2 1 6
3 USA 2 2 5 9
4 Colombia 1 1 2 4
5 New Zealand 1 1 1 3
6 Brazil 0 3 1 4
7 Canada 0 0 2 2

Much like F1, the leading nation in the drivers’ championship is the leading nation in the medals table.

Simon Pagenaud’s four victories have put him in prime position to win a maiden IndyCar title with three-and-a-half races to run, and it is also enough to give France top spot. However, his contribution is aided by Sebastien Bourdais’ victory in Detroit.

Australia sits second thanks to Will Power, with all but one bronze (scored with P3 in Long Beach) coming in the past five races.

Team USA has more medals than any other nation (9), but just two wins – Alexander Rossi at the Indianapolis 500 and Josef Newgarden in Iowa – means it sits third in the table. The silvers come courtesy of Graham Rahal and Conor Daly.

Colombia benefits from having multiple drivers on the grid to sit fourth, the decisive third-place finish to move it clear of New Zealand/Scott Dixon coming from Carlos Munoz last time out in Mid-Ohio.

Olympic host nation Brazil has four medals via Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, while Canada ranks seventh thanks to James Hinchcliffe.

Heart of Racing program aims to elevate new generation of women to star in sports cars

women sports cars
Mike Levitt/LAT Images/Heart of Racing

(Editor’s note: This story on the Heart of Racing sports cars shootout for women is one in an occasional Motorsports Talk series focusing on women in racing during March, which is Women’s History Month.)

Heart of Racing driver and team manager Ian James says his daughter, Gabby, isn’t so interested in auto racing. But she is interested (as a New York-based journalist) in writing about the sport’s efforts and growth in gender equality

It’s a topic that also was brought up by James’ wife, Kim.

“They’re always saying, ‘Hey, you manage all these guys, and you help them, so why not a woman?’ ” Ian James told NBC Sports. “And I feel like there are a lot of women that haven’t had a fair crack at it in sports car racing.

Our whole DNA at Heart of Racing is we give people opportunities in all types of situations where there’s been crew personnel or drivers. And I felt like we hadn’t really addressed the female driver situation. I felt like there was a void to give somebody a chance to really prove themselves.”

During the offseason, the team took a major step toward remedying that.

Hannah Grisham at the Heart of Racing shootout (Mike Levitt/LAT)

Heart of Racing held its first female driver shootout last November at the APEX Motor Club in Phoenix, Arizona, to select two women who will co-drive an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in the SRO SprintX Championship.

The season will begin this weekend at Sonoma Raceway with Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt behind the wheel. The team also picked a third driver, 17-year-old Annie Rhule, for a 2023 testing program.

The Phoenix audition included 10 finalists who were selected from 130 applicants to the program, which has been fully underwritten by Heart of Racing’s sponsors.

“We didn’t want it to be someone who just comes from a socio-economic background that could afford to do it on their own course,” James said. “We can pick on pure talent. We’re committed to three years to do this and see if we can find the right person. I’m very hopeful.”

So is Grisham, a Southern California native who has been racing since she was 6 in go-karts and since has won championships in Mazda and Miata ladder series. She has several victories in the World Racing League GP2 (an amateur sports car endurance series). The last two years, Grisham has worked as a test driver for the Pirelli tire company (she lives near Pirelli’s U.S. headquarters in Rome, Georgia, and tests about 30 times a year).

Starting with the Sonoma during SprintX event weekends (which feature races Saturday and Sunday), she will split the Heart of Racing car with O’Meara-Hunt (a New Zealand native she got to know at the shootout).

“It’s huge; the biggest opportunity I’ve had in this sport,” Grisham, 23, told NBC Sports. “Now it’s up to me to perform how I know I can. But I’m super lucky to be with such an amazing team and have a good teammate. The Heart of Racing has a family vibe and energy to it that’s really amazing. It’s super exciting. It’s hard to put into words.”

Grisham is hopeful that a strong performance eventually could lead to a full-time ride with Heart of Racing. The team has full-time entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and won the GTD category of the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona with the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 piloted by James, Darren Turner, Roman DeAngelis and Marco Sorensen.

James said “there’s no guarantee” of placement in an IMSA entry for Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt, but “if they prove themselves, we’ll continue to help them throughout their career and our team. The GT3 program is an obvious home for that. If they get the opportunity and don’t quite make it, we’ll be looking for the next two. The next three years, we’ll cycle through drivers until we find the right one.”

Grisham described the two-day shootout as a friendly but intense environment. After a day of getting acclimated to their cars, drivers qualified on new tires the second day and then did two 25-minute stints to simulate a race.

Hannah Grisham reviews data with Heart of Racing sports car driver Gray Newell during the team’s shootout last November (Mike Levitt/LAT).

“Everyone was super nice,” she said. “Once everyone gets in the car, it’s a different level. A different switch gets turned on. Everyone was super nice; everyone was quick. I feel we had an adequate amount of seat time, which is definitely helpful.

“It’s always cool to meet more women in the sport because there’s not too many of us, even though there’s more and more. It’s always cool to meet really talented women, especially there were so many from all over the world.”

IMSA has celebrated female champions and race winners, notably Katherine Legge (who is running GTD full time this season with Sheena Monk for Gradient Racing). The field at Sebring and Daytona also included the Iron Dames Lamborghini (a female-dominated team).

The Heart of Racing’s female driver shootout drew interested candidates from around the world (Mike Levitt/LAT).

James believes “a breakout female driver will be competing with the best of them” in the next five years as gender barriers slowly recede in motorsports.

“It’s been a male-dominated sport,” James said. “It’s still a very minute number of women drivers compared to the guys. I’m sure back in the day there were physical hurdles about it that were judged. But now the cars are not very physical to drive, and it’s more about technique and mental strength and stuff like that, and there’s no reason a girl shouldn’t do just as well as a guy. What we’re just trying to achieve is that there isn’t an obvious barrier to saying ‘Hey, I can’t hire a guy or a girl.’ We just want to put girls in front of people and our own program that are legitimate choices going forward for people.”

“There’s been some really good female drivers, but a lot of them just haven’t been able to sustain it, and a lot of that comes from sponsorship. I think (with the shootout), there’s no pressure of raising money and worrying about crash damage. We’ve taken care of all that so they can really focus on the job at hand.”

Funding always has been a hurdle for Grisham, who caught the racing bug from her father, Tom, an off-road driver who raced the Baja 1000 several times.

“I don’t come from a lot of money by any means,” she said. “So since a young age, I’ve always had to find sponsorships and get people to help me, whether it was buying tires, paying for entry fees, paying for the shipment of a car to an actual race. Literally knocking on the doors of people or businesses in my town.

“So yeah, it’s definitely something I’ve always struggled with and held me back because the sport revolves so much around money. So again to get this opportunity is insane.”

Rianna O’Meara-Hunt was one of two women selected by the Heart of Racing to drive in the SRO SprintX Championship this year (Mike Levitt/LAT).

Grisham credits racing pioneer Lyn St. James (an Indy 500 veteran and sports car champion) as a role model who has helped propel her career. She was hooked by the sights, smells and sounds of racing but also its competitive fire.

“There’s a zone you get in, that subconscious state of mind when you’re driving. It’s like addictive almost. I love it. Also I’m just a very competitive person as I think most race car drivers are.

“For sure I want to stay with the Heart of Racing. Obviously, I’m still getting to know everyone, but it’s a super family vibe. That’s how I grew up in the sport with just my dad and I wrenching on the cars. That’s what I love about this sport is all the amazing people you meet. And I think this is one of the most promising teams in this country. For sure, I want to learn as much as I can from them and hopefully continue. I feel so lucky and grateful to be one of those chosen.”