While Susie Wolff has highlighted a lack of driver interaction with the F1 Academy paddock in Austin, former IndyCar and NASCAR racer Danica Patrick says such support must be “authentic”.
For the first time the all-female F1 Academy series is sharing the stage with Formula 1 at the United States Grand Prix, though Wolff, F1 Academy’s managing director, was hoping for a little more support from the Formula 1 drivers.
It was in fact only Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell who had stopped by in the paddock to meet the F1 Academy stars.
Danica Patrick believes F1 driver support should be “authentic”
Wolff zoomed in on Hamilton as the only driver who she felt was regularly getting involved and demonstrating support for the series, which aims to find the next female F1 driver.
And from 2024, all 10 F1 teams will have a nominated driver in F1 Academy, running in the livery of that team.
“It’s a little bit sad that it’s always Lewis,” she told Sky Sports F1. “He’s always the one offering support, coming over and really, because I think in the end, he knows what it’s like to be the only one and so he has an affinity.
“But there’s going to be the 10 F1 teams with their own livery, so I expect a lot more interaction from the F1 teams generally next season because they have the platforms, they have the voices and I think that’s something which will be hugely helpful because this is not a short-term project. If we want to see success, it’s got to be long term.”
However, Patrick argues that the F1 drivers should not be forced into feeling like they must get involved, stressing the importance of that will coming naturally.
“I think it has to be authentic, I really do,” Patrick told Sky Sports F1.
“And we know more about Lewis because of the things that he does.
“And so while it would be nice I’m sure for Susie to have more drivers supporting and being around and mentoring, they don’t have to, they just have to be true to themselves.
“Lewis loves it and you see him doing a lot of things and it’s really good. He plays a really big role and he has a lot of influence.”
Seven-time World Champion Hamilton has pledged his future to the Mercedes team, having signed a new deal running until the end of F1 2025.