Ecclestone “massively pushing” for F1’s own Danica Patrick

2013 F1 season

Danica Partrick, Daytona, NASCAR, 2013While Danica Patrick lines up on pole position for today’s Daytona 500, over 20 years have passed since the last time a woman even attempted to start at round of the Formula One world championship.

But Williams test driver Susie Wolff believes it’s a question of when, not if, that will change – and the issue has support at the highest level:

“I know many people want it to happen,” she told media at last week’s test in Barcelona. “Bernie Ecclestone for one is massively pushing that it happens at some point I think in the future we will definitely see it happen.”

Wolff sees the shortage of women drivers in top-flight motorsport as a chicken-and-egg problem.

“There are more male drivers which is why possibly it’s even tougher for a female because there aren’t as many of us trying to get into Formula One,” she said.

“But I think it’s difficult for any driver to get here and then to stay here because it’s a very, very competitive world. You see how quickly the driver line-ups can chance with circumstance, with economic environment.

“So I think it’s very tough for anyone, I think the fact that there hasn’t been a successful female in Formula One maybe makes people wary over whether it’s possible or not. I fully believe that it is possible but it’s just going to take time for it to happen.”

Susie Wolff, Williams FW33, Silverstone, 2012Wolff joined Williams as a development driver in April. She had her first run in a contemporary F1 car in October and was the first driver to shake down the team’s new FW35 earlier this month.

She says she is treated “the exact same” as any other driver. “Of course I had to come in, I had to earn respect from the team members but any drivers has this responsibility. But I must say I had no issues at at all.”

But she isn’t getting ahead of herself when asked about her chances of racing an F1 car: “I’ve done more time in the car now. I feel even more comfortable in the car, it doesn’t seem like it’s an unrealistic dream.

“The tests in October last year, I was very unsure how the tests would go and what I would be capable of. But the tests went very well, there was no issues physically, there was no issues with not being able to handle the car.

“So it’s not unrealistic but I think we all know how competitive Formula One is, how many drivers are fighting for a chance to be on that grid. And I don’t want to come out with any bold statements or dream of saying ‘yes, I want to be on the grid next year’.

“Everything happens, it has its flow, I’m in the right direction, I’m taking each step at the time, I’m showing the guys in the team what I can do and what I’m capable of and for sure that was one of the reasons from the test last year I was able to drive the car for the very first time. You can see that it’s not out of my capabilities.

“But let’s see how it goes, I’m taking each step at a time, for sure a superlicence is the next thing on the to-do list, so let’s see.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber, Korea, 2012Last year Monisha Kaltenborn became the first woman team principal in Formula One. Wolff believes the appearance of more women in management positions in Formula One is a positive development:

“I think Williams is incredibly lucky that we have some fantastic women in the management positions. Claire [Williams], for example, we have another lady on the board – Lousie Evans, CFO – and I think we are a glowing example of diversity within what is quite a male-dominated sport.

“And Claire is only in the position she’s in because she’s good at what she’s not because she’s Frank’s daughter, you can’t run a team just because your family name means that you could be up for the job. She is incredibly good at what she does, I think she is definitely the future of the team and she is and should be a role model for many people.”

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125 comments on Ecclestone “massively pushing” for F1’s own Danica Patrick

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  1. Timebolt (@timebolt759) said on 24th February 2013, 12:42

    I too want to see women in Formula 1 but people forget that whilst Danica Patrick is a good Driver she also looks good in a Bakini. I get the feeling women will get a better chance if they look good in a bakini. I hope this isn’t the case and that I’m proven wrong but we’ll just have to wait and see.

    • Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 24th February 2013, 12:54


      Also, what’s not to like (aside from the fact she races NASCAR)?

      She’s dam good looking, and can drive powerful cars fast.

      Wife that.

    • The thing is though, I think that’s an unfair comparison to lay at the feet of women in any sport. Look around the paddock of an F1 race and I challenge you to find a driver who doesn’t look good in a bathing suit? F1 demands that one be at the peak of physical fitness; they are all going to look great. Sex sells, period. Men and women. NASCAR and IndyCar fandom is still strongly based around ‘good ‘ol boy’ mentalities (I did not say exclusively), so yeah Danica spends a fair amount of time in a bikini, but it doesn’t take much searching to find examples of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s sexualized image as a means of reaching out to female viewership.

      I’ve said it before, and I will keep saying it, the only reason there aren’t more women in motorsport is because little Michelle Schumacher or Sabrina Vettel would not have been given a go-kart at the age of 3 years old the way that many of the stars of this sport were. That is not necessarily the fault of Formula 1, but it is something that I think it is the responsibility of the sport’s governing body to try and address. Doing this means changing the attitudes of the sport’s fans. And yes, that can feel forced at times, the same way that racial integration felt forced, but that’s what’s necessary and it’s a worthy pursuit.

      I have really nothing to say to the comment by @tophercheese21 other than to roll my eyes.

      • Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 24th February 2013, 23:13


      • Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 24th February 2013, 23:20


        I have really nothing to say to the comment by @tophercheese21 other than to roll my eyes.

        I was just kidding around (Partially).

        But seriously, why should she be looked at any differently just because she’s a (good looking) woman?

        I bet Monisha K. wouldn’t be looked at the same way if she were as good looking as Danica.

        She’s good at what she does… Why does it matter if she’s a man, woman, good looking or bad looking.

  2. She says she is treated “the exact same” as any other driver.

    I’m not sure that’s entirely true.

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 24th February 2013, 12:48

      I’d agree…she gets talked about as if she’s different to any other driver, which is besides the point, isn’t it?

      COTD a few days back summed the whole thing up perfectly.

      • The Next Pope said on 24th February 2013, 17:07

        LOL. When Williams launched their car and drivers, I’m pretty sure no one was making comments about one of them being a woman, BECAUSE IT’S A NON-ISSUE.
        Nobody was talking about her or her gender until this interview about the Super License came about. I blame the media for getting excited about it.

    • SteveR said on 24th February 2013, 15:03

      If she is treated exactly the same way as other drivers she will need to get a super license the exact same way as they did (from Wikipedia):

      “To qualify for an FIA Super Licence the requesting driver must already be the holder of a Grade A competition licence, and additionally meet the requirements of the 2013 FIA International Sporting Code, Appendix L.[1][2] These requirements state that the driver must be either the reigning champion in a lower category of motor sport, for example Formula 3 (British, Italian or Japanese championship, or Euro Series), Formula 2, or GP2 Series (formerly known as Formula 3000), or must have consistently finished well in these categories. For example, a driver finishing in the first three positions five times within the last two years in GP2 will be eligible for a Super Licence.”

      We haven’t seen any of this yet and we won’t – if she gets a super license it will be through politics, and that is not being treated ‘exactly’ the same way as other drivers.

      • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 24th February 2013, 15:40

        Isn’t racking up enough milage in a F1 car also a way to get the licence?

        • SteveR said on 24th February 2013, 19:00

          In straight line aero tests? There is no testing, except at the beginning of the season, the young drivers test, and filming (and the sparsely attended mid-season test last year that, IIRC, will not be repeated) .

          • DVC (@dvc) said on 25th February 2013, 5:30

            Does it say it has to be a current car? They could stick her in a 2 year old car to do the required miles. Or maybe she’ll do some vintage F1 races!

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th February 2013, 18:56

        As @Verstappen points out, doing 300 km of testing in an F1 car also qualifies you for a superlicence. She wouldn’t be the first driver taking this route into F1. It was also one of the reasons why VdGarde had a deal to do just that with Spyker (who turned into FI in the middle of that), to qualify for a superlicence.

        Kimi was granted one on probation because he had not had enough experience in single seaters before and proved he was worthy

        • SteveR said on 24th February 2013, 19:04

          At least Kimi drove single seaters. I also believe that was before the testing ban. With the ban in place how does one get 300k under one’s belt?

  3. Andrew (@headless) said on 24th February 2013, 12:45

    With F1 in such a dreadful financial state (pay drivers all over the grid), I’m sure it has never been so easy for a [well backed] woman to get into the sport.

  4. Nick.UK (@) said on 24th February 2013, 12:47

    I don’t believe Ecclestone cares about getting a feamle driver on the grid for anything more than just the headlines and publicity.

    • Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 24th February 2013, 12:55


    • Lemon (@lemon) said on 24th February 2013, 13:09

      +1 exactly what I thought


    • Bernard (@bernard) said on 24th February 2013, 17:05

      “women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances”

      Ring any bells anyone?

    • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 24th February 2013, 18:30

      In this particular case does the reason really matter? We should have women in f1 and i’m glad bernie unlike some biggots feels the same way.

      • Nick.UK (@) said on 24th February 2013, 19:44

        Trying to get women into F1 is stupid if it’s simply for the basis of having one on the grid. Either they have the skills to be considered one of the best 22 drivers in the world and make an appearance on the grid, or they don’t and they stay out of the sport. Drives should be awarded based on skill. The sex of the driver should have sweet F.A to do with it!

        Going through all this campaigning to get a female driver into the sport also puts them on a pedestal – or could be interpreted as degrading them by implying they are ‘less skilled’ as we haven’t had one yet. The best way to deal with the lack of female drivers is to shut up about it all and just continue with the sport. If the time comes when a female driver is good enough for a drive, excellent, if not, so what! We’re looking for the best competition after all, aren’t we??

        • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 24th February 2013, 20:14

          How about getting off of your high horse for one damn second and accepting that women are just as skilled as men at what they do. You are the very definition of the problem you instantly assume that any comment or story about or godforbid any female driver actually making it to f1 would be purely about gender. Anyone who get’s there is skilled. Except in your eye’s a woman, who needs to be the next michael schumacher to earn a spot. Absolutly disgracefull.

          • plus 1

          • Nick.UK (@) said on 24th February 2013, 22:05

            Read my comment again please. I said I wanted to see the best drivers racing and that their sex had nothing to do with it! I’m not against women drivers, I am against putting one in a car simply so you can point and say “Hey look, a femal driver!”

        • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 24th February 2013, 23:17

          Why don’t you read my comment again any woman who gets there deserves a place as much as any man All professional drivers are exactly that professionals. But you assume bernie is going to ask your mum to race for mclaren just because she is a woman and that is b/s way of thinking.

          • N7 (@m77) said on 24th February 2013, 23:34

            I think you should also reread Nick.UK’s comment, Jimmy. I think you are misunderstanding a little.

          • Nick.UK (@) said on 25th February 2013, 0:09

            We are saying the same thing! I am ALL FOR SKILLED DRIVERS. If that means 22 women F1 drivers, then so be it – if they happen to be the 22 best drivers in the world. The drivers sex is of no importance to me. I just want the best 22 drivers in the world to be competing whether its all men or all women is irrelevant to me!

          • Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 25th February 2013, 0:15

            Agree 100% with @nick-uk.

            A woman should not be in an F1 car just because she is a woman, she has to be good enough, at least as good as our current crop of pay drivers. I think it would be very demeaning if it were otherwise. If there are enough women in motorsport, a driver who is good enough will eventually rise through the ranks to F1, I think everybody will welcome that.

            I dont see why people make a big deal if a woman amounts to something significant in general. They make it where ever they are because they were good enough, so why does one’s gender matter?

  5. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 24th February 2013, 12:52

    Yeah, I would prefer beautiful girl in F1 car (like Danica Patrick). But she should also be fast and competetive and not just to make up the numbers.

    It’s hard for women to get into F1 mainly, because there aren’t that much of them. If there’s one woman to 50 men, then it’s obvious, that there’s a more chances, that man will land a seat. And it’s no surprise why women are not dreaming about F1: few girls dream about cars and fewer want to train like an olympian to be fit for F1 car.

    Anyway, I would be happy if at least one girl drove F1 car in the coming 10 years.

  6. Deurmat (@deurmat) said on 24th February 2013, 13:09

    There shouldn’t be a woman in F1 just because she is a woman…
    There should be a woman in F1 because she proved her abilities in other classes in racing…

    • Banburyhammer (@banburyhammer) said on 24th February 2013, 23:22

      Thats why F1 doent need a Danica Patrick. F1 needs a Michele Mouton.
      Patrick, despite her background in Europe just didnt cut it at the sharp end in Indycar on the road courses, and putting her forward as someone who would be an unqualified sucess in F1 would be a huge mistake. Its sad to say, but I think it will need someone with the overwhelming evidence of quality of a Mouton in her heyday (Class victory in Le Mans, 2nd overall in the WRC – the idiotically bonkers version of the WRC, mind) to come in and blow the dinosaurs away.

      The dinosaurs being the ones in the grassroots. f1 needs a flood of high quality female drivers to choose from it they are going to be a common sight. they wont pick the best of a pitifully small bunch if even they arent good enough. It could spell bankruptcy for them – unless a Mouton comes along. Only then.

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 24th February 2013, 13:14

    I wasn’t aware that women were a charity case.

    This ridiculous agenda needs to stop. It’s embarrassing.

  8. andae23 (@andae23) said on 24th February 2013, 13:19

    I would love to see a woman in Formula 1. Looking at it from an unbiased view, it’s actually quite weird that all 22 drivers on the grid next year will be male. But the problem I have with this is that it’s done for the wrong reasons: Bernie probably wants to make headlines, with the cover-up that she will be an inspiration to young girls who might decide to go karting and try to make it into Formula 1. They are trying to create equality, but by letting a woman drive in F1 for this reason rather than by merit, they actually emphasize that the man’s position in F1 is different from a woman’s – which is paradoxical.

    Just look at Susie Wolff: she has been mildly impressive up until 2004, but from 2005 she hasn’t really achieved anything out of the ordinary. And this to be rewarded with a role as test driver for Williams – I simply can’t get my head around this. There are literally hundreds of young promising drivers with a more impressive track record than Susie Wolff, but she is the one that gets to drive F1 cars!?

    If there were to be a woman driving in Formula 1, she has to get there the hard way: she must prove that she is better than the other drivers who line up for a potential seat in F1, not just be granted that seat for the sole reason that she is a woman.

  9. There were some attemps in the past with Sarah fisher testing a McLaren (2002 I think) and even when Sarah has definitely more talent than Susie, things didn’t go further….. probably the fate played a harsh role for Maria de Villota, who was already taking the steps to get a F1 seat (but let’s also accept Maria was not an ace either). Susie Wolff will get a drive in F1 if Toto pushes the right butons (publicly or not) but it would be so pitiful to see her being lapped by all the cars of the grid. Not because she is a woman, but because in all her previous categories she has never shone

  10. I think that when women enter the sport again it will be similar to when Lewis joined the sport and everyone was saying “Oh, a black driver in F1″. Now he is just seen as another driver because, at the end of the day, it doeswnt matter if you are white, black, green, have man bits, lady bits, reproduce asexually… The main thing is you have to be quick and as long as a driver is quick, it should give them a shot at a seat in F1 (although a few million in the bank wouldnt hurt in this day and age either)

  11. celeste (@celeste) said on 24th February 2013, 13:32

    I wouldn´t mind a female driver, but I don´t want a “Danica Patrick”. Whatever you think of F1 way to find it´s drivers now, a woman needs to get to a seat because of her talent, not because she looks good in a bikini or dad/husband have money. Only if the woman in question is talenetd will she really be openning a door for other women in the future…

    • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 25th February 2013, 7:43

      Danica is consistently in the points. Do you think that she isn’t racing on merit? What about all the drivers who qualify and finish races behind her? Do they look good in bikini too? That’s ridiculous.

      I don’t know why people have a hard time understanding that you can be good looking and skilled at the same time. In real life people don’t get the same amount of “character points”.

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 1st March 2013, 2:16

        @maroonjack yes you can´t be good looking, but I´m not asking Seb Vettel to take a picture of himself in his underwear to sell me a car… I want him to drive fast, and I want any woman to drive in F1 to be fast, same that I want every driver in f1 , man, woman, thied sex, to be fast!

        My point is if any driver want´s to take picture of her/himself on bikini or whatever, do so… but don´t be just a animal to show or look pretty in picture be fast be really fast…

        • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 1st March 2013, 8:40

          @celeste You said that you don’t want a driver like Danica specifically. And she is fast. Faster than most guys. So why wouldn’t you want someone like that in F1 is beyond me. She definitely is not “an animal to show or look pretty”.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th February 2013, 8:52

      I think you feel much the same as in this article is mentioned by John Force (Father of NHRA race winner Courtney Force) @celeste :-)

      Always outspoken, John Force told leading up to last weekend’s race in Phoenix that the Danica discussion is overdone.

      “I get that Danica got the pole is a big deal, but it is not like she delivered the baby Jesus,” he said.

      I do hope better female drivers get a better shot at joining the podium ranks!

  12. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 24th February 2013, 13:59

    Soon, a female racing driver will come along and will earn a place on the grid on merit as she will be one of the 22 best drivers in the world. I have no doubt about that and see it as a question of when, rather than if.

    However, Bernie Ecclestone wants a woman in Formula 1 for all the wrong reasons and runs the risk of harming the cause of gender equality in motorsport, rather than advancing it, if he gets his way.

    I also think that there’s too much attention payed to things Bernie says. Let’s not pay too much mind to what he thinks and instead focus on encouraging more female participation in motorsport at all levels.

  13. Jarv F150 (@jarvf150) said on 24th February 2013, 14:16

    Well if we loose another couple of teams he can let the remaining teams enter a third car with women only drivers.

  14. Kelsier (@kelsier) said on 24th February 2013, 14:23

    Bernie is pushing for women in f1? So which team will have to change to all white livery?

  15. GT_Racer said on 24th February 2013, 14:40

    There’s a woman driving in Indycar the past few years called Simona De Silvestro & everyone who’s ever worked with her seems to think she’s something very special.
    She did wonders in an 8 year old overweight Dallara chassis in 2011 but sadly struggled in the uncompetitive Lotus last season, This year she’s moved to the KV Racing team & I would not be at all surprised to see her contending for & winning races.

    Danica is good, Maybe not as good as the hype suggests but definitely better than her critics claim.
    People often talk about her only been good on the ovals but don’t forget she has front row starts & a podium on the road circuits & was running at the front in the 2 Nascar Nationwide road circuits last year at Road America & Montreal & was racing with/beating some very accomplished road racers. Road America in particular is a very challenging circuit where you need to be good to run well.

    I also remember back in 2005 when Katherine Legge had a proper test in the Minardi, The headlines ran with her crash on the 1st day, However when she got a 2nd go the next day she was very, very quick & although no times were published a few of the Minardi mechanics said she was well within a second of the regular drivers.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th February 2013, 19:01

      Danica is good, Maybe not as good as the hype suggests but definitely better than her critics claim.

      that is why I am glad she confirmed it once again with the Daytona pole. After all, how many drivers get poles in NASCAR, in Indycar and win races in Indycar.

      I think its great that at least in Indycar there does seem to be a bit of a basis to go from and it has some talented females in the field in the last couple of years. Lets hope we see them fighting their way to the front soon, I agree with you on Simona de Silvestro, she seems has the skills t make it.

      • Kanil (@kanil) said on 25th February 2013, 2:57

        Qualifying on pole at Daytona isn’t really a great statement about a driver’s skill. There’s not much talent can do when it’s pedal down and minimal steering input.

        Conversely, racing at Daytona is one of the greatest challenges in NASCAR, and her race was a far more noteworthy example of her skill than her pole lap.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th February 2013, 8:05

          Qualifying on pole at Daytona isn’t really a great statement about a driver’s skill. There’s not much talent can do when it’s pedal down and minimal steering input.

          Tell that the ones who tried and failed to do so @kanil.

          Thats like saying there’s no skill to dragster racing. If so, then why are some drivers (pilots?) better at it then others?
          Its very much about skill. About getting the power down at the right moment, to know when to ease off the throttle, know what lines to choose and make it work with the 2000 kg car.

          • Kanil (@kanil) said on 28th February 2013, 1:18

            @BasCB Problem is, during qualifying at Daytona, there is no “knowing when to ease off the throttle”. There is no “knowing what lines to choose”. There’s no “getting the power down at the right moment”.

            You press down the pedal as soon as you’re clear of the pit road, and you let off three laps later. There’s minimal steering input, thanks to the immense banking. It’s far and away the easiest thing in NASCAR.

            But as I said, racing at Daytona is a huge challenge, and Danica’s race is far more impressive than her engine’s performance during qualifying.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th February 2013, 7:19

            Ok, I get what you mean now @kanil, thanks for the explanation.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th February 2013, 8:10

          let me add to that – the moment we think Finishing 8th of 28-30 finishers does not show skill we can just stop watching sports at all, as there will only be about 3 skilled people in the field (or just one? as the others are losers for not coming in first?), especially with something like NASCAR where results can change in the nick of time in the last few hundred yards leading to the finish by who get out of the pack best.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th February 2013, 8:12

          or did I misunderstand your comment and do you actually say that while setting pole is not that special, she should be rated for that 8 place finish @kanil?

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