Danica Patrick on women in motorsport

Someone sent me a link to a post on Jalopnik of all things and it was about an interview Danica Patrick did for the Sky Sports Juniors who did a broadcast during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend. It must be said that I thought the juniors did a good job and it was fun to see them cut their teeth in the broadcast world.

A young girl, Scarlett—who was fun to watch when she gave Ted Kravitz some schtick about his notebook and sunscreen—interviewed Danica about women in motorsport. The article sent to me had a transcript of her comments:

“As I’ve always said in my whole career, it takes 100 guys to come through to find a good one, and then it takes 100 girls. That takes a long time to find a good one, right? It just, the odds are not in favor of there always being one or being many of them.

And at the end of thee day, I think that the nature of the sport is masculine. It’s aggressive. You have to, you know, handle the car — not only just the car, because that’s a skill, but the mindset that it takes to be really good is something that’s not normal in a feminine mind, in a female mind.

You have to be, like, for me, I know if somebody tries to bow up or make it difficult on me, I would go into like an aggressive kill mode, right? You just want to go after them, and that’s just not a natural feminine thought. I say that because I’ve asked my friends about it, and they’re like, “Yeah, that’s not how I think.”

The article goes on to delicately scold Danica for sharing these opinions on a broadcast meant for kids. Fair enough, that was the writer’s opinion…much like Danica’s comments were her opinion.

Danica is one of the most successful female drivers of her generation and her climb to success was 100% sacrifice. That’s what it takes to succeed at that level and the first thing I thought of when I read her comments, and the rash of hate for Danica on social media, was Nico Rosberg’s comments about why he retired. Yes, I know, I thought of a “man”.

“I had given it everything. It was a question of do I want to continue to deliver and live in that intensity, and with my dream having come true – I’d fulfilled my goal of being World Champion – it just felt like a great moment to step away and have a new life, with different benefits.”

“There was about £100m going down the drain… but s**t happens,” he said.

“The pivotal moment was in Suzuka where I got pole position by two-hundredths of a second,” he explained.

“Lewis was on provisional pole, and then I came round and I beat him by the smallest of margins. Two hundredths, for me, was my leg muscles that I dropped in the summer break by stopping cycling.

“One kilo is three-hundredths of a second per lap, so I was looking for an extra bit of performance, anything that could give me the slightest edge. I was already super thin, so I couldn’t lose weight, but I still had these leg muscles to get rid of, so I got rid of those across a two-month period, and that proved enough to get me pole position in Suzuka.

“I think Lewis was really put off by that pole position and then he lost his way a bit that weekend – he messed up the start on Sunday and went back to eighth place, and only finished third – while I had quite an easy win. That really gave me the championship lead, and ultimately that proved decisive.”

“My helmet was black because I got rid of the paint, which was 80g,” he revealed.

“My socks stopped at the ankle rather than going up to the knee, because that was another 5g saved on each side; on my racing gloves there was a stitching in not an ideal place because it took away a bit of feel on the clutch, so I got that removed.

“I worked extremely intensely with a sports psychologist, I spent two hours every two days on psychology and even learning philosophy with this teacher.

“It was all these little details that ultimately made the difference. But that’s what you need to win. That’s the sacrifice.”

That’s the kind of sacrifice Danica was referring too. It’s the kind of sacrifice she went through and for her, she had to become someone she clearly didn’t feel comfortable being. The women in her life also felt it was not something they would do either.

I recall Nico saying he had to become someone he wasn’t in order to win at that level and beat Lewis Hamilton and it wasn’t was something he was willing to do any longer. He was becoming a person that he, at his core, was not. Ruthless, selfish, aggressive and, to Danica’s point, a killer. I tried to find the article with that quote but wasn’t successful but I know he mentioned it.

A very similar opinion from two different people. I think it may say more about F1 than it does about Nico, Danica or women in F1.

I think of Sebastian Vettel’s career and “Multi 21” and the take no prisoners attitude he had and how, when he got older and more introspective, he seemed to depart from that killer instinct to become the lovable driver picking up trash in the grandstands.

I understand the frustration some feel but I also consider that this is Danica’s opinion and it’s her life and I respect that as one of the world’s most successful female race car drivers. I think it is also the introspection of a person on the backside of their driving career when life presents them with a different view on…well…life. It’s sad to see all the hate on social media but Danica has handled far worse in her racing career.

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Xean Drury

Really great article. I didn’t realize Nico was shaving so many edges to get the advantage on Lewis (proving what a great driver Lewis is [coming from NOT a Lewis fan]). And Danica is completely right, based on numbers alone. There’s many more men in motorsport, so from there it really is just a numbers game. Danica is a pioneer in many ways and I truly hope to see women drivers in F1 in the near future.

peter

I think Paul Charsley should talk to Grosjean — Grosjean made some comments about the newfound fun of driving which will fit in. Sam Moses interviewed Nigel Mansell for Sports Illustrated… I seem to remember Sam recounting a similar story of the sacrifice and how un-burdoning it was for Mansell when he retired — it showed him what he had missed in real life. Just look at Nico now…

Worthless Opinion

To me it seemed like they were talking about different things but I see the point that both are highlighting the extremes one must go to. Side issue but I think one effect of this is a negative one on the drivers as personalities fans could get attached to. When I was racing dirtbikes there was a guy named John Dowd who started at 20. He was gifted, hard working and had huge balls and he became a championship contender. People called him ‘junkyard dog’ because he was kind of white trash and lots of people identified with him. That… Read more »

Worthless Opinion

Well if we’ve learned one thing over the last few years it’s that Martin will sacrifice his dignity to toe the f1 line, it actually makes me sad to see him demean himself on those gridwalks. Regardless you make a great point – you can’t know someone without knowing them. When (almost all) people take a dislike to Max because he refers to people as retard and mongol, or because after his teammate helps him immesurably to become champion then Max refuses to help him come in 2nd, theyre inferring things they don’t actually know. Theyre not out on a… Read more »