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Danica Patrick fielded a question about whether or not Formula 1 needs to do more to get a female driver on the grid, saying that it’s more important for women to come through the sport the “normal” way.
She even said that the entire endgame of seeing a woman in a full-time F1 seat isn’t important to her.
Patrick appeared on the Sky Sports F1 Podcast and was asked if she thought the sport needed to do more to give a woman a chance to compete in F1.
“Well, you’re assuming I want that, you’re assuming that is important to me, and it’s not,” Patrick said, per Sky Sports. “It’s always an interesting stance I have on it. I think that what makes the sport really popular is great racing — you can have half the field out there women and have it be follow-the-leader, and it’s not going to be interesting to watch.”
Patrick went on to say that’s what makes Formula 1 so great these days. Aside from Max Verstappen usually easing to a victory the rest of the field is pretty competitive.
“And so I think, as someone who obviously was a girl, you’ve just got to come up like normal,” she said.
Patrick Points Out Flaws In All-Women Series
The question was asked after Formula 1 launched its own all-female series called F1 Academy. While its inaugural season was this year, beginning with the United States Grand Prix, F1 Academy will serve as a new support series on select race weekends. Next year, some drivers will even race using liveries belonging to Formula 1 teams.
F1 Academy replaces Formula W as the top all-female open-wheel series. Formula W went belly up before the end of the 2022 season, which was a shame. I caught a pair of Formula W races in person at the Miami Grand Prix in 2022 and can tell you it offered some entertaining racing.
However, as Patrick points out, this isn’t necessarily the way to get women a seat in some of the top racing series around the globe.
“I do have a little bit of… not a criticism, but an opinion about female series, is that it’s fine, it can give opportunity for some who might not get a chance otherwise to show what they can do, but at the end of the day, you’re going to have to race against guys.”
That argument makes a whole lot of sense coming from Danica Patrick. Track time is never a bad thing. However, her path to IndyCar didn’t involve all-female series. She drove in junior Formulas in Europe before coming back to the States and working her way to an IndyCar debut with Rahal Letterman Racing in 2005. She went on to become the only woman to win an IndyCar race when she took the checkered flag in the 2008 Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.
Racing Against Men Is A Better Measuring Stick
She reasoned that racing against men will elevate female drivers, forcing them to compete at a higher level than they would in an all-female series.
“So when you watch golf, you watch that a lot of times, a golfer that’s maybe not ranked as high, will rise to the occasion with whoever he’s golfing with, and I think that tends to happen in all sports,” she said.
I’d be inclined to agree with her. Like I said earlier, getting track time is one thing. But an all-female series will never provide the same level of competition as competing in series like Indy NXT, Formula 3, and Formula 2.
She did however say that to this point, she hopes F1 Academy drivers are given chances to test F1 machinery.
“I just think that giving proper tests, to be able to see if a female driver is fast enough, is a great way to know if there should be a next step forward,” she said. “But as far as anything beyond that, I think they should be racing with the guys; racing in the same series. And they’ve just got to get people around them that believe in them.”
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