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Danica Patrick 'too big for USF1'

7 August 2009

USF1 team principal Peter Windsor has revealed that the new F1 outfit has already been approached by a number of pay drivers looking to secure a drive for the 2010 season – and stated that current IndyCar racer Danica Patrick would be 'too big' for the American outfit.

With the new version of the Concorde Agreement governing F1 having now been signed, preparations for the team's entry into the sport are now continuing apace at the Charlotte base, where work will begin on manufacturing the first USF1 car 'in the next couple of months'.

Having always stated that American drivers are the target for the programme, a number of high-profile names have been linked to a drive – including Patrick, former F1 racer Scott Speed and NASCAR ace Kyle Busch.

While the trio have played down talk of a move, Patrick in particular is one name that refuses to go away with her current deal with Andretti Green Racing ending at the conclusion of the 2009 season.

However, Windsor said that he felt Patrick was more likely to turn to NASCAR as opposed to move over to F1 where expectations would be high.

"A lot of people are saying to us, 'Are you interested in Danica? and my reply is in some respects, Danica is too big for us now," he told Sports Illustrated. "She'll probably go to NASCAR and she'll probably do very well there and she'll probably make a fortune. For her to do Formula One, it's a huge commitment at this stage of her career and her expectation level would be very high.

"We're not going to be fighting for the World Championship in year one. Reliability is going to be very important for us and driveability and just getting the car designed and built and a while new group working together as a team."

Windsor added that he found it 'unbelievable' that Patrick hasn't been offered the chance to test an F1 car on the back of her performances in the USA.

"She's gone to Europe, she did reasonably well in Formula Ford," he said. "She made the commitment, then went back to America and she's done very well in IndyCar. You could argue she's probably the best placed American in he premier single-seater American championship right now, give or take a Graham Rahal or two. Yet not one F1 team the last three years has bothered to give her even a test. I find that unbelievable."

The team is currently looking to try and secure the services of one experienced F1 driver – with Alex Wurz having been spoken to already – to run alongside one American driver in the first year of the programme, with the ultimate aim being to have an all-American pairing in the future.

Windsor admitted that approaches have already been made to the team from drivers currently racing in GP2, but said that both he and partner Ken Anderson were keen to try and stick to its idea and not simply go for the money – even though such a decision would be difficult to make.

"We've been offered well over three-quarters of our racing budget by two drivers already, neither of whom have raced in Formula One but both have won races in GP2," he said. "Both of them have massive sponsorship they can bring us from their home country. Ken and I have got to be very strong, look one another in the eye and say, 'No, we're not gong to accept that money, we're not going to hire those guys because we're going to remain true to our convictions.'

"This team is about helping young Americans as much as it is about anything else. But it is tempting when you see all this money dangled in front of you to take it and decide the first year we'll run two guys who aren't Americans."


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