May 02, 2008

Not So Much, Instapundit...

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit his own bad self, had a F1-related post today:

DANICA PATRICK going Formula One?

Now, while I appreciate any attention paid to F1 by someone here in the US, the Good Perfesser is in my territory here, so lets look at what this really means.

What Danica is being considered for is a test.  Generally this means plunking someone into a F1 car (maybe not even the current chassis) and letting them run a couple dozen laps or so, to see what happens.  In many ways, a test session is F1's version of being invited to Spring Training.  You might not be expected to "go north" with the Big Team, but sometimes good things happen. In the usual best case, the team would give the driver an extended look... probably as the team's Test Driver.

With Honda, that's a pretty decent gig, as Rubens Barrichello is approaching the end of his career, though he probably has another year or two of decent driving in him yet.  The current test driver for Honda, Alex (Man-Mountain) Wurz, is a top-flight racer in his own right, highly praised for his technical knowledge and his ability to describe a car to the team's engineers.  Of course, he has five seasons of actual F1 racing under his belt as well (last year with Williams, earlier with Benneton and McLaren).  This makes him, at least as valuable to Honda F1 as their two race drivers, Barrichello and Jenson Button.

Button is Danica Patrick's "in" with the team, by the way.  The two drove together in the British Formula Ford series, and were, at the time, friendly, though Button made some... unpleasant... comments regarding women drivers in 2005.

If Danica does well enough in test run with Honda F1, it's certainly possible that she could be signed as an actual race driver.  Sebastien ("SeaBass") Bourdais tested with Toro Rosso in the off-season, and now is the team's (nominal) second driver, along with Sebastian Vettel, so it's hardly unheard of.  Of course, SeaBass had a LOT more success in US open-wheel racing than Patrick, so that worked in his favor, too.

There is some question as to whether she's physically strong enough to drive a F1 car.  It's common for a F1 driver to experience 5gs under braking, and 4gs or more in the corners.  The problem is that, truthfully, nobody knows if a woman can handle a F1 car because its never been done before.  I suspect she can, but it is a valid point.

So, Danica "going F1" really means that she might have the opportunity to turn a few serious laps in a F1 car.  After that, it's anybody's guess, though currently there's no real opening at Honda.

Personally, I would love to see Danica get a F1 drive.  The attention it'd garner here in the US would be great for the sport, and it'd have to stick in Bernie Ecclestone (F1 supremo)'s craw after HIS deplorable comments regarding women drivers.

And there's no way that'd be bad.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:48 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 While I'd also like to see women driving F1, Danica wouldn't be the first.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_Formula_One_drivers

Posted by: Ari at May 03, 2008 03:32 AM (vVZ0M)

2 Ari, that may be so, but she would be the first since 1976 to actually START a race, which in F1 terms is, oh, forever.  The cars have changed so much in the past 32 years they're barely recognizable as being from the same league.

Having said that?  I'd rather watch the older Formula 1 cars... they look like cars.  Today's F1 machines are more akin to airplanes... but that's a discussion for another entry.

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 03, 2008 08:12 AM (AW3EJ)

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