Bernie Ecclestone has a thing for Danica Patrick, at least when she’s wearing Nomex. If Ecclestone had his say, she’d make the jump to F1 for the 2012 season. Is he impressed with her driving style? Her ability to make up for an imperfect race car? Her calm, easy going demeanor? No, he’s impressed with her ability to attract huge sponsorship into Formula One, which would be the icing on the cake for the series’ return to the United States in 2012.
Ecclestone, as usual, was critical of American racers. Not singling out any one series, Autoevolution quotes Ecclestone as saying, “Regarding an American driver, we have tried that lately but obviously what’s missing is the right attitude. You can race successfully in the US without the huge effort you need to succeed in Formula One.” What “huge effort” Ecclestone is referring to is anyone’s guess, unless he’s citing the huge effort at spending money undertaken by competitive F1 teams.
Part of me thinks that having Danica jump to F1 would be perfect, especially if she displaces Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. Patrick would make Schumacher look fast, and is perhaps the only professional racer who is more vocal in complaining about cars and setups than Schumacher. On the other hand, she is a much calmer driver than Schumi; I can’t think of a single instance where Danica deliberately tried to run a competitor off the track and into an armco barrier.
For now, however, Patrick is staying put in IndyCar and in the NASCAR Nationwide series. If all goes as planned, she’ll make the jump to Sprint Cup competition in 2011, joining such other IndyCar veterans as Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Scott Speed.