Danica Patrick Challenges F1 To Make Female Drivers ‘Feel Welcome’

'Make people feel welcome!'

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Danica Patrick knows a thing or two about not feeling welcome in a male-dominated sport.

The former race car driver was arguably the most accomplsihed female driver in NASCAR history and also became the first female to ever lead during the Indianapolis 500. Patrick broke glass ceilings and was able to make a name for herself in a sport where women were uncommon.

During her time with IndyCar, ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone told reporters in 2005 that “women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances.”

Now, she wants F1 racing to make female racers feel “more welcome.”

“I can remember some negative things that Bernie Ecclestone said about me, so maybe say nice things!” Patrick told RACER when asked how female drivers can have a better chance at making F1. “Make people feel welcome!”

Patrick added she felt more welcome as a female driver in the United States than in England, where F1 is vastly more popular than the U.S.-based NASCAR or IndyCar.

“I can definitely speak to this in terms of domestic in the states and in England — I definitely didn’t feel like I was as welcome in England as a girl,” she said. “So I always felt like England and Europe were more behind in their social structures and their hierarchy of who does what and gender dynamics. I don’t know, for me that?s how it felt.”

So, how can F1 be more welcoming?

“What changes that? The people in charge have to change their attitude,” Patrick said. “It’s like a cultural thing, it’s like a cultural norm. You can see it in the States all over the place — all kind of different cultural things really getting pushed through and lots of narratives and a lot of drama around it. There’s a lot of initiative here to make things not normal, normal.

“… I don’t know if that’s normal. I haven’t lived there in a long time, so I would imagine that it’s better than it used to be, of course. I was there in 1998-2001, so over 20 years ago. I’m sure it’s different now, but I know the States progress so even if the world is progressing at the same rate, when I experienced it at the same time we were in different spots.”

Patrick will be part of the Sky Sports F1 team for the upcoming Circuit of the Americas race Saturday night in Texas.

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