There is no reason why Danica Patrick should not be given a chance to prove her mettle in Formula 1, argue Force India pairing Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil - who both agree that the arrival of a new team in the top flight, particularly one from the States, can only be good for the sport.

IndyCar's first-ever female race-winner is one of the drivers under consideration for the all-new USF1 outfit, recently launched by former Ligier and Onyx technical director Ken Anderson and one-time Williams and Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor and due to be based in the heart of NASCAR country in Charlotte, North Carolina.

There has not been a woman in F1 since Giovanna Amati unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for three grands prix for Brabham back in 1992, before being replaced by Damon Hill. Prior to the Italian, Maria Teresa de Filippis, the late Lella Lombardi, Divina Galica and Desir? Wilson had all entered at least one race at the pinnacle of international motorsport, but only Lombardi ever troubled the scorers, by dint of half a point for being classified sixth in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

Despite the general lack of success of female racers in F1 and the fact that the category has ever been a predominantly male preserve, Fisichella and Sutil both reckon that Wisconsin-born Patrick - who was due for a Honda test late last year before the Japanese manufacturer announced its shock withdrawal from competition - deserves the opportunity.

"I don't know Danica Patrick very well," Sutil confessed to PTI, "but I know she has had some good results."

"Women in F1, why not?" added the experienced Fisichella. "Danica has got some really good results in the past."

The two men were similarly effusive about the prospect of a new team joining the starting grid, with USF1 eyeing a debut season of 2010. Particularly in the light of Honda's pull-out and the possibility of there being just 18 cars in the field this year, Fisichella and Sutil reasoned that the new addition would not only provide a boost to competition, but would also likely open up a whole new range of possibilities for the sport in what is the largest automotive market in the world.

"Having new teams is always good," contended the Italian, a three-time grand prix-winner, "as it's more competition and better for the sport in general.

"I don't know too much about the USF1 team, but the States is a big market for the car industry so it would be good to get a team from that area."

"New teams coming into F1 is always good as it means more competition, greater media interest and, if this team is from the States, a new market for the sport," agreed his young German team-mate. "It's a real positive, particularly when every team is having a tough time due to the economic problems."



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