By admin | February 26, 2009
By Richard Allen
Here is some ‘for what it’s worth’ advice for Kyle Busch and Danica Patrick; one should stay out of Formula 1 and the other should go.
Plans have been announced that a United States based Formula 1 effort is going to be made by Ken Anderson and racing commentator Peter Windsor. Even as these plans were in the rumor stage, which in large part they still are, speculation held that at least one of the team’s drivers would be of American birth.
Columnists, bloggers, fans and even the prospective owners themselves began immediately to scan the American racing landscape to come up with possible candidates for a seat in the proposed F1 machines. Talent would be a need for any driver seeking such a position but marketability would also have to play a major role in selecting said drivers due to the exorbitant cost of F1 racing.
Two names that have surfaced in one way or another are the afore mentioned Kyle Busch and Danica Patrick.
In the case of Busch, he is one of the most talented drivers to come on the American racing scene in quite some time. Like him or not, and many do not primarily due to his run ins with the popular Dale Earnhardt, Jr., all would have to admit his abilities behind the wheel are outstanding. Between the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series he won an unprecedented 21 races in 2008.
If I were starting an F1 team, and I’m only a few hundred million dollars short, Busch would be one of the first drivers I would consider. So, I am not surprised that his name has come up amid this speculation. Granted, he has no real open wheel experience but his talent is undeniable which is coupled with a burning desire to beat his opponents into the ground. Both of those qualities would be essential to success in F1 or any other type of racing.
The reason I would advise Busch against a Formula 1 career, however, is primarily based not on talent but because of the way of things in that form of racing. Formula 1 is based as much, if not more so, on politics as it is on the ability of the driver and machine.
With that said, there is no Formula 1 race in the United States, or even North America for that matter. That goes a long way in summing up the American political position in the world of F1. Apparently, U.S. tracks do not hold a very high standing with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. If that’s true for tracks in America, there is little reason to believe Mr. Ecclestone would be looking to foster the development of an American team.
Busch is young and brash, by stock car racing standards. He gets a lot of attention in NASCAR for the things he says and does. In the world of Formula 1 he would have to find the cameras and microphones rather than them finding him.
Like so many before him, Busch would wind up as a talented driver working for one of the teams on the outside of the political hierarchy in F1. Through no fault of his own he would have wasted what may be the most valuable and productive years of his career.
Last year, Busch considered test driving the Toyota F1 car but ultimately did not. My advice to him is that should be as far as his career in that form of racing ever go.
On the other hand, I believe Danica Patrick should go to Formula 1 if given the chance.
The reason I believe she should make an attempt at Formula 1 is that it would fit perfectly into the career she has molded for herself. She once claimed she intended to be a serious racer and not some novelty. She has done little to prove that claim.
Granted, of great importance in racing today is the ability to sell oneself. However, in the last few years Danica has taken that to a new level with the racy commercials she has made.
Also, whether true to her personality or not, she has shown herself to be a bit of a prima donna. Her rants and stomps up and down pit road have become You Tube sensations. That should fit in very well in the world of prima donnas that is Formula 1.
I personally believe Danica is a somewhat talented driver. However, any talent she may have has been overshadowed by so many other variables. The photo shoots, the rants, the fact that she is an attractive woman and other things, some within her control and some not, have seemingly drowned out her actual driving.
She has won only one race in the same time in which Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon have been far more successful on the track. However, she is far better known than any of those three.
Danica Patrick would be another great act to throw into the three ring circus that is Formula 1. The fact that she is a woman who is very well known might aid the U.S. team in finding sponsorship.
After Danica finished 4th in the Indianapolis 500, Bernie Ecclestone remarked, “She did a good job, didn’t she? Super. Didn’t think she’d be able to make it like that. You know, I’ve got one of these wonderful ideas that women should be all dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances.”
Maybe while racing in Formula 1 Danica would have the opportunity to prove to Mr. Ecclestone that she can be more than just a kitchen appliance.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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