Danica Patrick adamant she’s not leaving NASCAR for F1: ‘I wouldn’t go anyway’

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Ever since team owner Gene Haas announced last year that he would field a team in Formula One starting in 2016, speculation has revolved around Danica Patrick possibly switching from NASCAR to an F1 ride.

It’s not necessarily that much of a stretch, as Patrick has a prior open-wheel background in the IndyCar series.

The Danica-to-F1 conversation has ratcheted up the last several weeks when Haas confirmed during last month’s NASCAR media tour that Patrick is in the last year of a three-year contract to drive a Sprint Cup car for SHR.

Patrick has already previously said she wasn’t interested in moving to F1, but a new interview with Autoweek.com seems to give the final word that she’s not going anywhere, period.

At least not to F1.

“Many, many people have always said that I will move to F1 one day,” she said. “But no one ever talked to me about it. That’s okay, because I wouldn’t go anyway.”

Even though a potential move to F1 would be global news and take Patrick’s popularity to unprecedented heights, her reason to say no to the international series is rather simplistic: she doesn’t want to leave home in the U.S.

“It’s not so much that I am not interested in driving a Formula One car,” Patrick said. “But in order to do it properly, I would have to leave the U.S., and for me that is out of the question.”

Patrick, who turns 33 on March 25, lived overseas for three years earlier in her career when she competed in Formula Ford, primarily in the United Kingdom.

The native of Roscoe, Ill., returned to the U.S. and became one of the most popular drivers in the IndyCar Series from 2005-2011 before shifting full-time in the NASCAR world in 2012 (she had raced part-time in 2010 and 2011).

She spent one full-time season in the then-Nationwide Series before going full-time in the marquee Sprint Cup Series in 2013.

Patrick told Autoweek that neither Haas nor anyone else has talked with her about moving to F1.

Plus, her hesitance about even considering a move is compounded by the reality of her chances of success in F1.

“I only want to do things if I have a chance to win,” Patrick said. “And as an outsider, that would be so difficult in Formula One.”

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Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).