Patrick shows women can succeed in F1 – Ecclestone

2013 F1 season

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Danica Patrick, Las Vegas, NASCAR, 2013Danica Patrick’s success in American racing shows women can race competitively in Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone says.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Ecclestone said there was “no reason” why Patrick herself couldn’t race in F1, “providing that we find a team to take her”.

“Danica would be good to have with one of the teams now,” said Ecclestone. “All the things that people worry about – whether a woman can cope with the G-forces and all that – she has proven that she can. She?s been there and done it.”

“What I think – and I cannot blame her for it – is that she will hardly want to give up the exposure she has in the US to come here and maybe not make it.”

Patrick raced in IndyCar from 2005 to 2011, causing a sensation by leading 19 laps of her first appearance in the Indianapolis 500 on her way to fourth place.

She won at Motegi three years later, but left the increasingly road course-based series to join NASCAR in 2012. She started the first race of this year’s NASCAR series at Daytona on pole position.

Despite having previously made unfavourable comments about women racing in F1, Ecclestone said he always thought it “could be a good idea”. He added he has spoken to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz about the possibility:

“I spoke with Didi Mateschitz some time ago about the issue of an American team and at that time I said that we would want an American woman driver. He seems ready.”

Last month Williams test driver Susie Wolff said Ecclestone was “massively pushing” for a woman to have a chance in F1.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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70 comments on “Patrick shows women can succeed in F1 – Ecclestone”

  1. There’s just one small problem – Danica Patrick has said that she isn’t interested in Formula 1.

    1. A problem Bernie has also stipulated in the interview PM:

      “What I think – and I cannot blame her for it – is that she will hardly want to give up the exposure she has in the US to come here and maybe not make it.”

      But it was not about Bernie saying he is pushing to have Danica now, but that her racing at the highest G-Forces tracks on ovals, getting podiums, winning and being a real contender for top 10 places in both NASCAR and IndyCars before shows that any imagined fears of females not being physically up to it or something are based more on prejudice than reality (see the debate on that last week for those kind of reactions).

      Really if Bernie was doing his job to promote F1 (instead of just making sure the sport earns a lot now) he should be looking to find a team to field a female driver, as Danica shows that it can help rejuvenate interest in a series (after all that was why he is supportive of having an Indian and a Chinese driver in the sport, to build interest).

      1. Really if Bernie was doing his job to promote F1 (instead of just making sure the sport earns a lot now) he should be looking to find a team to field a female driver, as Danica shows that it can help rejuvenate interest in a series

        And which female driver would that be?

        1. … Assume you were trying to promote women in F1.

          1. @mike – Okay.

            I still wouldn’t take any of them. I don’t think there are any female drivers who could make it in Formula 1 based on talent alone. I’d be very hesitant to promote a female driver if she had to make up the difference between her natural talent and the talent needed to succeed by bringing sponsors to her team, because it would set the tone for the women who follow her. If she fails, it’s going to do more harm than good to the idea of women in Formula 1.

        2. Carmen Jorda, Vicky Piria, Samin Gomez or even Alice Powell. They all raced or are racing in GP3 Series.

          All driving for Lotus #sexyandiknowit ?

          1. @jeff1s – Carmen Jorda is nototrious for having failed to qualify for a GP3 Series race last year.

            Vicky Piria was disappointing last year (though she was driving for Trident), and needs a lot of work before she is ready for GP2, much less Formula 1.

            Samin Gomez hasn’t even raced in GP3 yet, so she’s got even more work to do than Piria.

            Alice Powell might have scored a point in GP3 last year, but she has no firm plans for this year as far as I’m aware. She hasn’t been testing for any GP2 or GP3 teams at all.

            In short, none of them are anywhere close to being in Formula 1, and I doubt any of them will actually make it. Of the four, Samin Gomez perhaps stands the best chance of making it, if only because she’s a total unknown.

        3. If we compare the quality he was able to bring for an Indian driver, a Malay, or indeed a Chinese one (who he did work for to give incentives to teams running them) @Prisoner-monkeys, I would say that there’s a solid crop out there that would be dabbling around in a backmarker car as good as the likes of Qua, Chandhok, Karthikeyan, Young etc.

          Apart from the ones @Jeff1s mentions that might be worth a look theres also several runners in Indycar like Legge, di Silvestro etc. who might be considered. Now I am not promoting any of them directly, but we all know that if Bernie wants to, he is fully able and capable of making it happen. I do not think its a coincidence that both de Villotta and Wolff got closer to F1 in recent years.

          1. I would say that there’s a solid crop out there that would be dabbling around in a backmarker car as good as the likes of Qua, Chandhok, Karthikeyan, Young etc.

            The thing is, for that crop, there’s always an 10 times bigger one consisting of drivers who actually deserve to be in F1, on merit, not based on who-knows-what marketing / awareness-raising gimmick.

            This is worse than having Chilton in F1, to be honest. Selecting drivers for any competition based on nothing more than their gender, race, sexual orientation or whatever other characteristic except for sheer driving skills and talent is WRONG and it shouldn’t happen. Period. A competition where you have designated backmarkers, just to fill certain gaps in the marketing strategy is not a competition anymore.

            This is Formula One not an United Colors of Benetton commercial. I don’t care if there’s a woman out there that might be 0.005 sec./lap faster than the first ever Chinese guy who set foot in an F1 car because that shouldn’t be a standard in the first place.

            Also, I would like to hear more about how De Silvestro (par example) drew ANY interest whatsoever towards IndyCar. She’s been stuck to the back of that field for so long that 50% of the viewers probably forgot she even exist. Same went for Wolff and Legge in DTM.

          2. @tony031r

            Whilst I totally agree that the only drivers who deserve to be in F1 should be there on merit and talent alone, we all know that this is not the case today, nor has it ever been. Quite clearly, as long as you are a decent driver and can generate sponsorship, you can get an F1 seat.

            On this basis, Danica would be a great choice for any F1 team. Imagine the sponsors lining up.

            But on the other hand, I would suggest her previous racing experience and success in both INDY cars and NASCAR more than qualify her to be considered for an F1 seat on merit and talent, and not just because she is female.

          3. @tony031r, I fully and completely understand what you write about wanting the best drivers in the cars to compete. And I am all for that as well.

            But the reality is, that we have the Pics, VdGardes and Chiltons of this world in F1 (and have had the likes of Chandhok, Petrov, Karthikeyan, Senna, …) who have NOT been chosen for their skill with the cars alone. And I see no big difference between Bernie helping a team out with some up front payments etc. to take a driver to do the FP1 because he wants to help the sport get a bit more PR in a country (Rossi was given a chance for the same reasons) and him doing so to help get a broader audience interested.

            Formula one actually IS a Colors of Benneton commercial in a way, in that it is competing for attention of the people by standing out, just like those ads were.

            De Silvestro (and Legge) is stuck to the back of the grid as much for lack of funds as Timo Glock was stuck in a Backmarker and Heikki and Jarno were in backmarker cars. Even if the money is not that huge as F1 for IndyCars, its still the richer squads that are going to fight for the wins.
            (Rubens Barrichello mentioned that he only wanted to continue in the series, if he could find a drive in a team capable of fighting it out at the front)

          4. De Silvestro was actually fairly good in the 2011 Indycar Season given the relative lack of budget her team had. 2012 was pretty much a disaster because they were stuck with the anemic Lotus engine. I think she could do a decent job this coming season and if she does well than she may well be the next female F1 Driver given the lack of female talent coming up through GP2 and GP3.

    2. I just think he’s trying to create hype in the American media for this week’s start. I don’t believe she’s good enough unless you throw her in a Red Bull, Ferrari, or Mclaren perhaps.

    3. @Prisoner Monkeys Well I’m not from the Netherlands but apparently Beitske Visser is being promoted as an excellent talent.

      On the matter of Patrick I do believe just as Bernie that she COULD cope well in F1 but I think there is only one problem: You need an FIA super license for that don’t you? And as Sebastian Loeb found out being a star in your series isn’t enough

      1. And as usual I did the @ wrong! here goes @Prisoner-Monkeys

      2. What, Loeb did not get a FIA Super License… Are you kidding me?

      3. Danica nearly qualified for a FIA Super License in the 2009 Indycar Series Season, she was one spot in the championship too low. The real problem she would have with coming to F1 is that she’s terrible on road and street courses which is what all of the F1 tracks are. Her standings in Indycar dropped more and more as the number of oval tracks on the Indycar calendar dropped.

        1. Thats the reason she has no interest in F1, shes only good at turning left…

      4. Good enough not to be written off at this point from what I’m reading. A few sources seem to talk about how driven she is, which is a good sign.

    4. I think ol Bernie has the eyes on her… Its time to get a driver ‘wife’…

  2. “Didi Mateschitz”, lol.

  3. A female rookie at Toro Rosso?

    1. seems to me to be a good use of that team

    2. @bascb Mucca Rosso then?

      1. @fer-no65
        Lol! But don’t give them ideas, they might even start a new brand energy drink.

      2. A female riding the italian red bull would do fine

        1. @bascb dat sounds dirrrrrty :P

          1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
            13th March 2013, 20:29

            Hahhahaaa @fer-no65 spot the pun right away

  4. I didn’t realise that there was any doubt about whether women could race in F1? Seems like it just goes without saying.

    Oh g-forces he says? Well, you know how it is with women passing out at every opportunity when they go on roller coasters etc.

    I think Bernie is betraying his age here and living about 60 years behind the times.

    1. Actually DrDjaxles, if you look at the comments on the recent article about Susie Wolff wanting to get her Superlicence, I think its rather that Bernie is reacting to a, sadly all too widespread, belief (held on to quite desperately by some) that there are physical reasons of why a female would not be able to compete on an even level in motor sports.

      1. Part of the reason is in other sports, women are segregated into their own championship/events.

        Whether this is just or not is open for debate (tennis is the big one – several of the female champions could probably beat most of the men, but they play separately apart from the mixed-doubles events).

    2. I think he may have a point: biologically, men are stronger and fitter (that is not sexism, it is fact) as is evident from the track running records. However, this isn’t such a big issue in Formula one as although there is huge physics strain it is more the mental aspect of it.

      I think the problem is right now though that there simply aren’t enough talented potential female F1 drivers out there – partially due to the culture I presume but I fear it is more so due to a lack of interest.

  5. Marussia and Caterham. There they can get companies that sell women’s products for sponsors. An untapped market worth a bucket load.

    1. I think at one time Sarah Fisher in IndyCar had some sponsors that sold consumer products for women.

  6. The problem is Danica Pattrick is hugely popular from the Indy Car Series and was voted as “The Most Popular Driver” by the fans last year in The Nationwide Series and her Fame has carried her into the Sprint Cup..Also, She is a popular model..
    Think about a female Driver coming into F1 , there is no way She could be as popular as the already established Stars.. A Suisse Wolff for ex.. Yes, there will be media interest but nothing to eclipse the Vettels and the Hamiltons.. This year whenever I have switched on to see Nascar, its always about “can Danica Pattrick win the Daytona”?? ” Oh, she was this close to Winning this one”

    1. Why not, if she has the talent to make herself as popular? Don’t forget that 5 years ago, nobody really knew who Vettel was.

  7. He will then say “Dress her up in white and put her in a white car”

    1. @malleshmagdum

      That gave me quite a good laugh.

      “No matter how quick she’s on the circuit, she’ll always be the fastest on her way back to the kitchen.”

    2. Haha yes, he’s trying to install a woman driver like you’d install a dishwasher. Or “install” a new Pope.

  8. vuelve kowalsky
    13th March 2013, 8:27

    it’s more likely i see another driver of alonso’s caliber coming from spain in the next 10 years, than a woman winning a f1 race. And the first premise it’s very difficult indeed.

  9. If a female driver is faster and better than the rest of the drivers looking for a seat, then sure, why not? But I’d hate to see a female driver get in based on her gender.

  10. Someone please help Bernie find his onions.

    1. What does that mean?

  11. As we all know success in america doesn’t always translate into success in formula 1 (Seb Bourdais for example) i would like to see female drivers in F1, but the current driver market (regardless of sex) is not based on merit but on money hence, heikki & kamui out of drives etc. So it’s quite possible a billionaires daughter could be the next female formula one driver and quite probably put a huge nail in the coffin of women in F1 – as truly talented female drivers won’t even get a look in due to lack of funds.
    Man or Woman the driver market is unfair and and not based on ability – which is the first problem F1 must deal with.

    p.s. i don’t mind a pay driver………if he/she can DRIVE!

    1. The problem with Bourdais was a combination of the differences between the racing series and the Toro Rosso effect.

      If he’d gotten in with another more competitive team, who knows…

  12. What Patrick has mostly shown us is that a moderately talented race car driver, who also happens to be female and pretty, can be a marketing bonanza.

    1. Or its just a reflection on a society that glorifies beauty…

  13. Danica Patrick’s success in American racing shows women can race competitively in Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone says.

    No it doesn’t. It simply doesn’t, Bernie! Have you gone completely mad?!

    If you forget the fact that Danica Patrick is a woman, for a moment, and look at all the drivers that made the switch from various US series to F1 the first thing you realise is that it’s just a very select group that actually made something of their F1 careers, a group which only includes the likes of Villeneuve or Montoya (even Fittipaldi, Andretti or Mansell won their CART titles AFTER competing in F1 and in a completely different era). Look at Zanardi, Bourdais or Scott Speed. These guys were the class of the field in CART / ChampCar and IRL at the time. How did they cope with F1? Horribly.

    Plus, how many drivers in the history of motorsport made the switch from NASCAR to F1 and turned out to be successful, even if they raced in open-wheels before?

    Bernie is talking complete non-sense here. It’s not a matter of gender. There’s absolutely nothing to back-up the fact that Danica Patrick might be successful in F1 (or any other driver currently racing in Indy or NASCAR for that matter…)

    What Bernie should have said is along the lines of: “I want a woman in F1, I want her to be american and I want her to be popular because that’s shooting two marketing rabbits at a time as it appeals to both the US market AND a new category of potential sponsors. Wait as minute, who’s that girl racing on ovals?! Dana…something. Danica. Danica Patrick! People like her. I want her! Ka-ching!”

    Seriosuly now, with all this fuss and talk about Susie Wolff and Danica Patrick lately, am I the only one who feels this is getting a bit too close to affirmative action?

    1. As written above @tony031r, I fully understand your emotions about it. But in your answer you have mixed two completely different things.

      1. the question of whether a female is fully capable of competing on an even level in motorsports
      2. does success in NASCAR or IndyCar guarantee a driver can cut it in F1 (and vice-versa)

      Bernie states, that Patrick is clearly showing that the first thing is no problem at all. She is competing with other people and doing good enough to be a contender for top 10 finishes or even wins.

      The second one – as you rightly say, its not a guarantee at all that a switch will work, save for a select group of top drivers. Bernie does not want to have anyone make such a switch though, he himself mentions that Patrick is unlikely to want to do so because she would have to give up a comfortable position for nothing but risk.
      So in effect, Bernie is saying exactly what you mention. That he would support a team to field a female driver from a big market who is good with PR and can at least get into the mid field.

      1. @bascb

        the question of whether a female is fully capable of competing on an even level in motorsports

        I chose to ignore that part as it’s a stupid, stupid question. Ask Jutta Kleinschmidt. :)
        I didn’t mix the two concepts, I just focused on the more relevant one.

        As far as the whole “Danica is able to do this and that” thing goes, I see Bernie’s point but I still find it to be a completely unneccessary comment at this particular time because of the following two aspects:

        1. Danica Patrick is not nearly one of the best drivers in NASCAR and wasn’t even close to being one of the best drivers in IndyCar. She’s a strong midfielder, a PR magnet and a woman, characteristics which are not key incentives for choosing a driver, nor should be. I’m completely aware of the fact that marketing-wise, placing a woman in a racing seat is reasonable and recommended, but I simply don’t care about that. If Danica would have been in a class of her own in Indy (NASCAR is irrelevant to open-wheel racing) I would have found Bernie’s comments to be quite sound. But she wasn’t, ergo on her performances so far alone, I don’t think she can be competitive in F1, at all. Not because she is a woman, but because she was a slightly-above-average driver in a competition from which not even a quadruple champion as Seb Bourdais managed to make a name for himself in F1.

        Now, Danica won’t make the switch from NASCAR anyway and there’s no woman in open-wheel racing worthy of an F1 seat right now. So what Bernie is saying, practically, put into the current context, is that we should have a new pay driver in F1, but this time is has to be a woman. I don’t agree with any part of that concept.

        2. Bernie would say Paris Hilton’s dog can be competitive in F1 and that they should find a racing seat for it, as long as there’s enough money involved and enough people are willing to watch it.

        1. jimscreechy (@)
          13th March 2013, 15:26

          @Antonio -totally agree.

        2. Bernie would say Paris Hilton’s dog can be competitive in F1 and that they should find a racing seat for it, as long as there’s enough money involved and enough people are willing to watch it

          I see you have a thorough understanding of bernies logic @tony031r :-)
          Lets hope he does not find the time to put Roscoe in a car.

    2. I would love to see Montoya back in F1

  14. It’s a strange about turn Bernie’s done there. Could it be to do with the worldwide attention Patrick has brought to NASCAR, and Bernie thinking “I could do with some of that.”

    If Bernie really wanted female drivers – and I think they would be a great addition to F1 – he would have done so a long time ago. Methinks his priorities lie somewhere other than gender equality…

  15. If bernie is so desperate for a female f1 drver.. why doesn’t he just dress Rosberg in a wig?

  16. I don’t see any reason why women could not compete in F1 (as long as they have the talent).

    I would feel sorry for the next woman to get a seat in a team; because I can only imagine there would be alot of press and media about it all, and that would apply its own pressures.
    But, saying that, I wouldn’t like the thought of a team putting a woman in a race seat, JUST to get publicity and sponsers.

    I suppose once we break through the barrier, and have a woman competing well in F1, it would make it easier for future drivers.

  17. The problem with Patrick is that she’s a very mediocre driver.

    1. jimscreechy (@)
      13th March 2013, 15:29

      True, but she’s smoking hot. How much worse can it be seeing her on the grid than total time wasters like Yarno Trulli was.

  18. I have had a good laugh at a lot of the posts on here, some of them are priceless. No matter what Bernie Ecclestone says, Danica Patrick will never compete in F1. Not because of her gender or talent, but because she doesn’t want to. She is making an absolute fortune in NASCAR, even if she never wins the championship, she has made it. You see, one thing I give the Americans credit for is marketing. They are experts at selling you something, especially if its something you don’t need. Patrick is just a female version of Dale Earnhardt Jnr, a clothes horse and merchandise gravy chain.
    In all fairness, Danica Patrick was the one big marketing boon Indycar had, which is the reason why NASCAR wanted her. Am I saying she is a terrible driver, absolutely not! However, her ability to grab the headlines and the limelight was definitely NASCAR’s gain and Indycar’s loss from a business perspective. She is young, pretty, and American. Pure Hollywood movie material and a marketing man’s dream. Ecclestone is right about one thing, Patrick won’t jeapardise her career in America by going to F1. No way.

    1. jimscreechy (@)
      13th March 2013, 15:40

      Hmm are you perhaps assuming that you know what her motives are? I have yet to hear of a driver that is in the sport for financial reasons. Most want to win or at the very least be competitive, the finacial rewards never seem to be at the top of the list (least as far as I know). Certainly from interviews I’ve heard with her, she is no different from any other driver in this regard. However, I also remember her saying as you correctly point out, that she doesn’t want to come to F1… so can’t argue with that!


  19. If my calculations are correct, she has 1 win in 237 career races. And even that 1 win has some controversy attached, as the leader(Hélio Castroneves’) crew radio’d to him to slow down because a yellow was out. Danica cruised by him and took the victory. This happened on the same day as the last ever Champ Car(opposing series) race was about to take place. If the 4 times, in a row, Champ Car champion can’t cut it in F1 then I don’t see Danica cutting it at all. Especially considering Champ Car was the mostly road racing series where the IRL, where Danica raced, was mostly Ovals.

  20. Danica Patrick actually shows that women can succeed in NASCAR.

    Or. If we forget her gender just for one second – Danica Patrick shows that a driver talented enough can race in NASCAR if they have the skills. It’s like saying Felipe Massa has shown that men can succeed in F1.

  21. I think the problem of women in F1 is that they will just as fast in todays cars an men……..but will get lower insurance….boom boom.

    Racing is all the the Head……..

  22. I don’t think anyone in modern times would object a female F1 pilot, but it would certainly be nice if she got the drive by merits, rather than becoming mostly a marketing ploy.

  23. Danica is a mediocre driver driving in top level equipment. She finished behind people who did not run a full season last year. simply put she would not have a seat on the grid if not for her being a woman.

  24. I’d have no problem of a successful woman coming from either a feeder series or stuff like for example DTM, IndyCar or hell even NASCAR into Formula 1 – but by successful I mean top 5, and DP isn’t close to that right now.

    This is just Bernie seeing the $-signs.

  25. whenever i need to outrage women, i bust out bernie’s classic “appliances” line. thank you, mister ecclestone.

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