One of the co-principals at the nascent USF1 team has admitted that he would be interested in giving Indy Racing League pin-up Danica Patrick a chance to prove her mettle in a grand prix machine.
Respected former Williams, Onyx and Ligier engineer Ken Anderson revealed that, despite having hinted at using rising US talent from the junior ranks to fill the two seats at USF1, he would be keen to see what Patrick could do. The 26-year old is currently entering her fifth season in IndyCars, having last year broken her victory duck by taking an emotional win at Motegi in Japan, but has been linked to possible Formula One involvement in the past when Honda F1 CEO Nick Fry admitted that he would be willing to give her a try out in one of his cars.
Honda has since pulled out of F1, ending Patrick's AGR team-mate Marco Andretti's immediate hopes of making the switch from IndyCars, but both could be considered by USF1, which has stated that it intends to field two American drivers when it makes its projected debut in 2010.
“[Danica]'s great - she gets a lot of press,” Anderson, who will hold the role of technical director at USF1, told The Associated Press
over the weekend, “IndyCar Series boss] Tony George would probably be pretty mad with me if I took her out of the IRL, but we'll see. I don't know if it's something she wants to do. We'd certainly love to test her and go from there.”
Patrick, who recently returned to the pages of Sports Illustrated
's swimsuit edition [see here
], has more recently been linked to a potential switch from the IRL to NASCAR, although doubt has been cast on her ability to mix it in the 36-week campaign demanded by the Sprint Cup. However, the move remains plausible for as long as Patrick is backed by Motorola, which is understood to be eyeing NASCAR for future marketing activities.
While Patrick - and 21-year old Andretti - both carry benefits for USF1, Anderson has also suggested that he was looking at talented Americans currently plying their trade in Europe. Charlie Kimball, who preceded Andretti as one of the preferred drivers in the US A1GP team, remains the highest profile exports to the European scene, but Jonathan Summerton and Richard Antinucci - both expected to be Indy Lights in 2009 - raced on the 'other' side of the Atlantic until recently. Scott Speed, who ran a season-and-a-half with Toro Rosso in F1, is also being connected to the USF1 programme, despite now appearing settled in NASCAR with Red Bull.
Anderson also revealed that the team will have a staff of at least 100, a working budget of $64m and a potential satellite base in northern Spain, where it is in talks with sportscar and World Series by Renault outfit Epsilon Euskadi, to go hand-in-hand with its Charlotte base.
"Spain makes a lot of sense with all the winter testing,” he confirmed, “We're talking to Sergio Rinland about basing [USF1] at Epsilon. Azkoitia is a beautiful city, and it's certainly on top of our list."