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

2013 F1 seasonPosted on Author Keith Collantine

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. One name: Beitske Visser. I might be biased, since she is Dutch, But she dominated her karting seasons, won a fair amount of races in Formula ADAC last year, including one with a broken back the day after breaking it, which was the reason she missed a few races and didn’t end up finishing the season in the top 3.

    She’s racing in German F3 this year, and if she keeps winning, Bernie might want to keep a look out on her.

    1. Just looked thru the comments to see if anyone would mention Visser!
      She is by far the best young female talent in single seaters. I’m pretty sure we’ll see her in GP2 in the coming years.

  2. I say, Danica Patrick, and people immediately say ‘good looking’. I say Carmen Jorda, and people immediately say ‘hot’. I say Susie Wolff, and people immediately say ‘cute’.
    To me, this reeks of sexism, and as long as people do not get rid of this mentality, it will be difficult to look at female drivers on the same level as male drivers. I do believe that the female sex are on an average physically inherently less tough, but they have no mental deficiencies w.r.t. males, and with equal or slightly more training, women can be on the same level of men. There are female drivers like Alice Powell(2010 Formula Renault BARC champion), Samin Gomez(finished 7th in Formula Abarth last year), Beitske Visser(finished 8th last year in ADAC Formel Masters, winning 2 races despite missing some rounds) and Natasha Seatter(won Formula Gulf 1000 last year).
    We must treat them equally and only then will the aforementioned drivers come to F1, instead of less deserving drivers like Susie Wolff, Carmen Jorda, Vicky Piria and others whose appointment may lead to an increase in F1 viewing just because they turn up the ‘glam quotient’. Drivers are drivers, and talent comes BEFORE EVERYTHING ELSE.
    *P.S. I’m a male.

  3. The reason they are not in F1 is not sexism, it’s the lack of skill. If women can prove they are fast, they will surely be given a seat – they should not recieve a seat just because they are female, and should recieve no extra financial backing JUST because they’re female.

    1. I agree: perhaps women aren’t given the same opportunities as men currently and that should be ammended but I don’t want to see a female F1 driver just because she’s a female at the expense of a better male.

  4. If Danica Patrick would stop posing in swimsuits and doing risque’ commercials, I might have an ounce of respect for her. Instead, as soon as she obtained a small amount of notoriety, she objectifies herself and her body. Waaaaay to change female stereo-types there Danica. Now men will REALLY respect you in a male dominated sport. Hand me a basin, I’m going to be sick.

  5. Search for beitske visser, she seems to have some talent, she’s driving in German ADAC series.

    1. Now she’s in the ATS Formel 3 Cup.

  6. There is just one small problem with Wolff’s theory: any female driver in Formula 1 is going to need a certain amount of talent to recapture the “Danica effect”, and I can’t think of any female who could do it. Without that talent, cynics and critics are just going to assume that that woman is there to capitalise on sponsorship potential.

  7. I understand why you make comments such as a woman she be on the grid purely on merit but consider this. If you force the issue now in 20 years you will inspire the next generation to actually train and get to the position where they can genuinely compete on merit.

  8. Does anybody get the feeling that Susie Wolff is trying to set herself up to become “Formula 1’s Danica Patrick”? She’s been talking a lot of late about how she wants to get a superlicence, and the BBC is producing a documentary on her, and now these comments about what Ecclestone wants … it makes me wonder if she’s not lobbying for a seat of her own.

  9. As an aside, when are they going to get rid of the corridor of pretty girls in tight clothing before the podium celebrations? For such a modern sport, F1 is pretty backwards in some aspects.

  10. In Nascar she get’s bumped around, here she is getting taken out

    Here she try’s to take someone out, keeps way off the brakes and slams into the wall

    In Nascar oval racing you need to form alliances to bump and draft to get ahead, you need friends. It looks like she doesn’t have friends out there. Or brakes.

    Perhaps going into the pits would have been better than dropping smoke an oil on the last turn.

    I think she would do better in single seater but Indy is too deadly to drive in, and it might be too late to work her way up in europe. I hope she inspires young female drivers to keep trying to get ahead in the sport as F1 is all about characters from different countries with different styles and the great the mix of drivers / cars the more entertaining the racing is.

  11. Danica raced brilliantly with the guys at Daytona 500. She was rarely out of the top 10, led several laps and was in 3rd place starting the last lap, when she and Greg Biffle (2nd) got hung out to dry by the pack on the outside. She still finished 8th. I think that a pretty good statement of her abilty to race cleanly and well at over 190MPH. Credit where its due…she is a fighter. If she got a F1 test good luck to her. She has also won in Indycars.
    Sadly, I dont recall Susie Wolf ever showing this kind of form when she raced in DTM?

    1. I Love the Pope
      25th February 2013, 12:47

      She won once in Indy Car – was a massive disappointment overall.

  12. Bit off topic, but I see people speculating sometimes about how Danica Patrick would get on in F1. But that’s based on a rather arrogant assumption that she would even want to in the first place. Let’s face it, what would the draw be for her? She’d be leaving a sport where she’s got a genuine chance of winning, where she gets paid a huge amount of money, in favour of potentially having to pay for a spot in a backmarker team. NASCAR is (and I accept this may bruise the egos of F1 fans) a much bigger and richer sport than F1, and has a much fairer field of competition where genuine talent (which she has in spades) has the opportunity to be successful. You couldn’t even justify it by saying it would be a personal challenge; there are two, maybe three genuinely competitive teams in F1, none of which would be prepared to give her a set, and so she’d have no hope of winning a race let alone a championship. Where’s the appeal? To impress a bunch of Europeans?

    1. Thats a very good point!

  13. Well, it’s “for sure” that Susie Wolff is learning how to talk like an F1 driver ;-)

  14. The sheer feminism which pervades this whole article and the entire comments section is nauseating to say the least, and exacerbated by the fakeness that subtly transpires from many of the comments. Perhaps even more annoying is how nearly everyone participating in this discussion seems to consider Susie Wolff’s rise (if you can call it that) through the ranks of F1, and Danica Patrick’s pole position, as crystal clear indication of the social PROGRESS that the western worls has experienced and the strides the motorsport has made towards gender equality. This terribly cancerous notion is, of course, entirely based on the HUMONGOUS assumption that social progress requires gender equality.
    You people are all lying to yourselves and to eachother (hence the fakeness in some comments that doesn’t go unnoticed to the trained reader), because deep down we all know that only through commercial pressure (hence Bernie’s “massively pushing”) will a woman driver land a permanent F1 race seat, not through merit. Therefore ask yourselves: how can Bernie’s forcible placement of a woman in F1 be considered a victory for the gentle sex? It clearly isn’t, it’s not genuine, and it proves that you’re all lying to yourselves.
    And in the off-chance that we’ll have a woman driver in F1 in the near future, we ALL KNOW that her level of competitiveness will be NOWHERE NEAR not even Narain Karthikean’s 2012 achievements. Because all you feminists and fake feminists are clearly overlooking the fact that women have fundementally different physical characteristics, in this case inferior. That’s what makes the two genders distinct and, most importantly, complementary, and why gender equality should NEVER be used as the measuring stick of social progress, but rather of social REGRESS. And anyone who is angered, offended, or indignated by my innocuous remarks has reached a level of brainwashing that is beyond any hope of cure, particularly if that person is a man.

    1. @marciare-o-marcire
      Well, there’s lots of things (and I mean truly, really, lots of things) that could be said about that comment, but I’m afraid that no matter how I tried, I could simply never match its level of intelligence. Sometimes some statements are most eloquent when left to speak for themselves, I think.

      1. I was pondering whether to react to it at all, I clearly share with you @maciek that feeling of not being of the required level of understanding that comment.

        What I find astounding, is that in all that trained reading, it seems you have failed to notice the comments discussing whether Wolf, or for that matter Patrick would actually be good enough for F1 and how high a level of skill the actually possess, say compared to the best drivers but also to our grid filling drivers who are certainly not all there on just their driver abilities.

        1. you in that referring to the original poster of the comment

      2. Actually your statement is about as eloquent as the lamentations of an infant with a diaper full of crap. You literally said nothing, inferred nothing, concluded nothing.
        Then again, my logic is a rock-solid, impregnable fortress of intellectual fortitude so there really ain’t much you can say, infer, or conclude.

        1. yes, that comment certainly proves your point and it proves most of us are not on your level

    2. David Langdown
      26th February 2013, 11:57

      So mate, what do you think of female fighter pilots ?………..Inferior Yes ?

      1. Female human beings have inferior bodies and athletic prowess compared to male human beings, generally speaking, therefore the answer to your question is yes. Most female fighter pilots are physically less capable than male fighter pilots. Same goes for F1. What kind of dumb question is that anyhow? Last I checked, the olympic sporting events are separate for males and females, for obvious reasons. Your sarcasm is ineffective and unfounded.

        1. Given that being a fighter pilot (as is motorracing) is not about athletics, your comment does not make sense.
          Fitness level of females is not an issue for doing either of those. Nor is their speed, etc. There are some slight differences, but neither is inferior.

        2. David Langdown
          28th February 2013, 0:34

          Whilst you are busy comparing F1 driving with olympic athletes, female and male. Does it not even occur to you that Olympic athletes depend on their bodies alone and yes the male is stronger than the female ! However having the added assistance of a machine (jet fighter or racing car) the female, who’s logical brainpower is considered stronger, could have some advantage. Thanks indeed for your sarcasm.

          1. Really? And F1 drivers don’t depend on their bodies when they have to withstand 5G’s in a turn 60 times over 90 minutes? And 3/4Gs in braking multiple times per lap? I’ll bet that you wouldn’t last 5 of those laps before you start panting like a fool and your head snaps off from your neck. I’m very physically fit and I probably couldn’t last like 15. But I’m sure I could manage more than a woman, simply because women have different bodies, that’s all I’m saying, and you can’t deny that.

    3. Oh my God, guys.

      I’ve seen the light. This is a revelation. I finally realise what a brainwashed fool I’ve been!

      I can’t believe I spent all that time believing that women were equal to men when they were actually inferior all along! Curse you, feminists, for tricking me into believing in the evil ideals of equality and social justice! But no more! I finally understand how poisoned I’ve been by misandry and self-loathing!

      …or we could all actually have a really good point about social progress and harmful, outdated attitudes about women in F1 and you’re just a barmy misogynistic loudmouth – one of the two.

  15. David Langdown
    26th February 2013, 11:54

    Couple of years ago i was at the Malaysian F1. There was a young local ex-Pat girl driving in the Formula Ford (think thats correct) she was driving very well till some idiot ‘wanna be’ drove into the back of her. Talking with local ex-pats, they knew her and seemed to think that she was F1 material. She had been very successful in Asian go carts racing .Never heard of her since, has anybody ?

  16. There is a missed opportunity here. There are 2 teams who should take female drivers and can get a bucket load of sponsorship for it. I am of course talking about Marussia and Caterham. They are not competitive due to finances. They are seconds off the pace. So put in at least one female driver and no one will notice the difference in lap times, they just have to make the 107% rule. Then they can get the sponsorship that is lacking in F1. I am talking about the companies that cater for women. Makeup, fashion, and lots of other products that women use. Let it be a bit jokey. In the long run they would be able to afford to develop beyond the first race. They may even be able to get a budget of a midfield team.

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