Danica Patrick doubles down: ‘Finding female F1 driver isn’t important to me’

Thomas Maher
Hungarian Grand Prix: Danica Patrick broadcasting with Sky F1.

Danica Patrick, former INDYCAR and NASCAR star, broadcasting with Sky F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Former IndyCar and NASCAR star Danica Patrick says that uncovering a female racing talent worthy of F1 isn’t a topic that interests her.

Now retired from racing, the former IndyCar winner and Indy 500 starter has turned to punditry in motorsport, with the American a regular contributor to Sky F1’s coverage in the UK.

Recently, Patrick raised eyebrows with comments made about how she believes motorsport to require a “masculine mindset” that isn’t compatible with most women’s approach to sport.

What did Danica Patrick say?

Speaking during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, engaging with the Sky Junior broadcast, spoke of her own experience as she climbed through the ranks of motorsport to reach the top of the ladder of US racing.

“I think that the nature of the sport is masculine. It’s aggressive,” she said.

“You have to, you know, handle the car – not only just the car because that’s skill, but the mindset that it takes to be really good is something that’s not normal in a feminine mind, a female mind.

“You have to be like, for me, I know if somebody tries to bow up to make it difficult on me, I would go into like an aggressive kill mode, right?

“You just want to go after them, and that’s just not a natural feminine thought. I say that because I’ve asked my friends about it, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s not how I think.’”

Danica Patrick: Finding a female F1 driver isn’t important to me

With the likes of the now-defunct W Series and the new Formula Academy series aimed at helping to showcase young female racing talent on an international level, there is a desire amongst fans and Formula 1 to uncover the talent required to progress on into the higher categories and, potentially, on into F1.

Asked whether she’s encouraged by the steps being taken by Liberty Media and the FIA to help with the process of boosting the profile of junior female drivers, Patrick dismissed the idea of segregation amongst racing drivers.

“Well, you’re assuming I want that, you’re assuming that that is important to me, and it’s not,” she told the Sky F1 podcast.

“It’s always like an interesting stance I have on it. I think that what makes a sport really popular is great racing. You can have half the field out there [be] women, and have it be follow-the-leader, and it’s not going to be interesting to watch.

“Good racing – and that’s what we have so much of these days in F1 – I mean pretty much everything other than Max is a toss-up for who’s going to be really good, to see who’s gonna be second, third, fourth, fifth that weekend.

“That’s what makes it really appealing. As someone who obviously was a girl, you just got to come up like normal. I do have a little bit of a… not a criticism, but an opinion about females series. 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 gonna have to race against guys. When you watch golf, a golfer that’s maybe not ranked as high will rise to the occasion with the one he’s golfing with, whoever he’s golfing with. I think that tends to happen in all sports, that’s why you see some of the best wanting to run around, practice, and be with the best because, then, they get better.”

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Patrick explained her reasoning for wanting to see female racers compete in the same series as their male counterparts, saying it is no benefit for the female drivers not to go up against the talents they will inevitably have to face anyway.

“If you bench[mark] yourself off of something that’s not the best, then it’s gonna affect your effort level, your mental goal, like what you envision yourself doing,” she said.

“So you really have to put yourself in the toughest situations, and you might as well do it early because it’s only going to get harder.

“Giving proper tests to be able to see if a driver, if a female is fast enough, is a great way to know if there should be a next step forward. But, as far as anything beyond that, I think they should be racing with the guys, there’s risk racing in the same series. They’ve just got to get people around them that believe in them.

“[I didn’t have a] minority anything. I giggled along the way, ‘I never got any minority money or anything like that, you know?’

“The more times that you put yourself in a position to show what you can do, the better off you are, and it’s better to be in the car than not. Just more cars, more track time, and more opportunities to show what you can do is just always a good thing.”

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