Op-Ed: It’s time for Danica and Lewis to team up

Danica Patrick, who qualified a lowly 23rd for the Indy 500 yesterday, apparently earned boos galore after radio comments she made blaming the car, and not herself, were broadcast over the track’s public address system.

Sound familiar?

Here’s a bit of the news via ESPN:

IndyCar’s most popular driver heard fans’ displeasure Saturday when her comments blaming a poor qualifying performance on her car’s setup were broadcast over the racetrack public address system.

Patrick, by far the leader in merchandise sales and visibility in the series, appeared upset when she talked about the reaction.

“I say one confident thing out there, that it’s not me, and everybody boos me,” she said. “I don’t know, maybe they were booing me before, but some of them were probably cheering for me before. I’m not a different driver than I was five years ago.”

The fans objected to her comments, but her team didn’t.

“You take one on the chin, but maybe you had it coming this time,” Tom Anderson, Andretti Autosport’s senior vice president for racing operations, said. “All you can do is turn the other cheek and just get back to work.”

And it gets a little bit better, especially for you Danica-haters:

Patrick was shaking and holding back tears after the qualifying run. She said adjustments on the car throughout the week were poor.

“The car is just totally skating across the track, and there’s no grip,” she said. “My mechanics took tons of time to make sure it was fast and slick and no drag. It’s there, it’s just that the setup’s not there. I feel bad for them because it’s a good car.

“The GoDaddy car deserves to be higher up than this. It’s better than this. It’s just not set up right.”

What really gets me is the Formula 1-like decision by her team not to do a second run — until her time started plummeting down the sheets. They got her in line but time ran out before she could get on track.

I guess maybe that move puts her more in line for a slot at Ferrari, and as Fernando Alonso’s team mate.

But her radio comments are more the focus today than her team’s strategy, and that harkens back to Monaco and Lewis’ comments over his radio.

We had the nice discussion, linked to above, about whether it is a case of airing dirty laundry in public or the proper give and take between a driver and his/her team.

Here’s what Todd wrote back then, as a reminder:

You didn’t have to listen to closely to hear the frustration in Lewis Hamilton’s voice during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. The young brit certainly let his team have it during a radio conversation that instructed Hamilton to adjust his brake bias rearwards and mind his brakes. The answer from Hamilton?

“What the hell? Do you want me to race these guys or look after the car?”

The sentiment was met with some disdain in the American broadcast on speed TV with good reason but I feel the incident only highlights a level of frustration Hamilton is experiencing with McLaren’s lack of pace against the Red Bull’s of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

Either way you feel about these incidents, and I think no matter how you perceive both, they add to these two drivers’ reputations as prima donnas and, yes, whiners.

So I’m trying to come up with the right team name for when these two come together.

Team Whiners?


Team Just Win, Baby?


Any better ideas?

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