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Windsor: 'Beyond me' why nobody in F1 ever signed Danica

17 August 2010

Peter Windsor has admitted that he cannot comprehend why F1 team bosses and talent-spotters have repeatedly overlooked young American drivers in recent years, adding that he is mystified as to why Danica Patrick was never given a shot to prove her worth at the highest level.

Though chastened by the whole sorry experience of USF1, Windsor clearly stands by his staunch belief that there is a place for a Stateside team at the pinnacle of international four-wheeled motorsport [see separate story – click here] – and with that a driver from across the other side of the Pond too.

Patrick was lined-up for an F1 test with Honda in late 2008 prior to the Japanese manufacturer's sudden and unexpected departure from the grand prix grid, and Windsor similarly considered the 28-year-old Wisconsin native for the ultimately stillborn USF1 effort, but despite commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone's palpable desire to recruit her to the ranks [see separate story – click here], the IndyCar Series pin-up has never truly been taken seriously by the top flight. F1's loss, the former Williams and Ferrari team manager contends.

“There's a rich seam of talent out there,” the 58-year-old Englishman told GPWeek, “and many of the new stars want to make it to F1, as distinct from NASCAR or Indy. They're committing to it early. Look at Alexander Rossi, for example; he has a lot of momentum behind him, he is racing in Europe – and winning – and he is living in Italy, studying for college in his spare time.

“Conor Daly, Josef Newgarden, Jonathan Summerton, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, John Edwards, Charlie Kimball... It's a long list already, and that doesn't include the guys I've probably forgotten, plus some of the really experienced, polished drivers like Patrick Long and Alex Gurney. I'm surprised that more F1 teams aren't out there signing up the good young Americans as they come along. It's only a matter of time before F1 returns to the States, so where is the downside in investing in a young American driver and thus increasing your chances of working with American corporates?

“Why did no-one sign Danica Patrick a few years back? It's beyond me. She's probably the best female single-seater driver in the history of the sport, she's attractive, she works hard – and yet no-one in F1 seemed to take her seriously. If BMW had raced Robert Kubica and Danica for the last few years, would they have been any less successful? For sure they would have sold more cars in the States...but that's assuming America is still important to the F1 corporates. I assume it is, but you should never take anything for granted in F1 these days...”


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