Former Manor driver Max Chilton says Formula One teams are guilty of passing up on top-quality talent in IndyCar because of a fixation on junior categories in Europe.
Over the weekend, several of Chilton's IndyCar rivals tweeted their frustration at F1's only American outfit, Haas, for comments made by team boss Guenther Steiner about no homegrown talents being on the team's list of candidates for a future race seat. U.S. racing legend Mario Andretti, the 1978 world champion, called the team "wrong and arrogant" for its stance.
Steiner previously revealed his apprehension about signing American talent last year after 2017 IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden revealed a desire to contest at least one season in F1 before he retires. Steiner does not believe it is easy for any IndyCar driver to simply make the step across given the complexity of modern Formula One cars and the cut-throat nature of the series, with F1's support series' -- Formula 2 and GP3 -- geared towards preparing young talents for the step up.
Chilton, who finished fourth at last year's Indy 500 after leading 50 laps, thinks it goes deeper than that, as he feels IndyCar talents are not even considered a viable option in the first place.
"I don't think it's down to Josef, I think it's down to Formula One," Chilton told ESPN when asked what is stopping teams considering IndyCar drivers. "F1 personnel are quite single-minded in the way they look for their drivers: They either already have to be on their way up to Formula One or already be on their team programme or something.
"They rarely look at other drivers away from who's racing in Europe. That's wrong, I don't think there's [another] reason why they don't [look to IndyCar]."
Chilton spent his first two IndyCar seasons alongside New Zealander Scott Dixon at Chip Ganassi, a former Indy 500 winner and four-time IndyCar champion. Dixon is held in high regard in the IndyCar paddock, and Chilton believes the 37-year-old is a perfect example of what F1 has missed in recent seasons.
"Scott Dixon, who was my teammate last year, I think he's one of the best drivers in the world and he could give anyone a run for their money in a Formula One car -- but no one has ever given him a look-in, like when there was a seat going at Mercedes.
"It needs a culture change for them to look at IndyCar drivers as a possibility, and I hope there is because there are world-class drivers that are being wasted and could be doing even bigger things in the public eye in Formula One and doing better than some of the people already there."
Chilton will contest his third IndyCar season with series debutants Carlin, the first British team to join the grid in the modern era, in 2018. The Englishman spent two GP2 seasons at Carlin before making the jump up to Formula One with Marussia in 2013. He stayed there for two seasons until the team entered administration at the end of 2015, prompting a switch to the Indy Lights series the following year.