F1 Pays Attention to Patrick

Danica Patrick will have the Formula One paddock following her progress at the 89th Indianapolis 500 this Sunday with interest

F1 Pays Attention to Patrick

The 23-year-old Rahal/Letterman IRL driver is in a realistic position to win the event, after becoming the highest-qualified woman, starting the race from fourth in what is considered the most dominant car of the field.

"I am going to be cheering for Danica Patrick," said BAR-Honda driver Jenson Button, who had been acquainted with Patrick since she raced in England, in Formula Ford.

"Anything can happen," Button added. "I haven't seen her for ages but I used to be friends when we were racing. I have always looked at her progress ever since.

"She raced a few years younger than me so she was always behind in her career, but she had done a great job. I am not saying that just because she is a girl, she has done a great job."

But the question every journalist is asking, is can Patrick make it into Formula One?

1995 Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, whom Patrick lists as her role model, sounded a note of caution about her prospects.

"If she could manage Formula One, media-wise that would be the best thing that could ever happen. That would be great," he said. "But driving on an oval, and driving on a road course or mainly in Formula One, physically is not the same thing.

"We train like maniacs, or I train like a maniac, and Formula One is physical. In every sport, as soon as it becomes physical, there is a difference between a man and a woman. That's just the way it is," said Villeneuve.

"Formula One gets really, really physical. I think it would start making a difference. That doesn't mean she couldn't do well, It's always worth a try.

"But it will be a lot harder for a female than for a male because physically it is harder. That doesn't mean she can't do it. I'm not saying 'Oh, no way let's not bother.'"

Jackie Stewart somewhat disagreed with the Canadian.

"We need an American, and to have a woman in addition to that is pretty spectacular," he said. "If she does (win Indy), she will be a superstar in America.

"But it's too early to say (about Formula One). She did very well on one day...but she's got to win races as well. It's not just a question of doing the occasional good performance.

"It's nothing to do with strength, it's to do with your ability to put yourself into something, totally connect with it, not give any compromise and whether its a woman or a man really doesn't matter as far as I am concerned," he added.

"There is nothing to stop a woman doing it."

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