F1 rumours news to Danica

When auto racing superstar Danica Patrick’s name surfaced recently inreports about an all-new Formula One racing team, it was news to her.

When auto racing superstar Danica Patrick’s name surfaced recently in reports about an all-new Formula One racing team, it was news to her.

“Sexy driver set to be F1’s first female in 18 years,” said the headline on one of several stories linking the 26-year-old Indy car driver and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model to a team reportedly being launched next Tuesday in the U.S.

Patrick, who was at the Toronto International Auto Show yesterday to help promote the official launch of ticket sales for the Honda Indy Toronto race next July, said she was flattered to be mentioned “in the same sentence as Formula One” but that’s as far as it went.

“There weren’t any quotes (in the stories) from me,” said the 5-foot-2, 100-lb. brunette, “because they haven’t spoken to me. We’ll see what they have to say, though. Maybe they’ll call.”

Patrick shot to auto racing prominence in 2005 when she won three poles in the Indy car series and came close to winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

She started fourth in the 33-car field that year and eventually finished fourth after becoming the first woman to lead laps in the world’s most famous race.

Last year, she became the first woman to win an Indy car race when she beat Helio Castroneves to the checkered flag in the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi speedway in Japan.

That, plus numerous endorsements of women’s products and two appearances in the famous SI swimsuit issue (wearing a bikini, she’s draped over the hood of a car on pages 6 and 7 of this year’s issue), have made her extremely well known.

Although she’s been criticized by some for appearing in magazines in less than full apparel, Patrick is not bothered by it.

“I think the swimsuit issue is awesome,” she said. “For me, as a brand, it’s a really good thing to be in such a sought-after magazine. I’m always very true to myself and what I feel comfortable with. Being female, and looking OK, and getting all made up and everything, is a lot of fun. I’m not very shy, so if I’m not comfortable with something, I say so.”

Patrick said she has a good feeling about the ’09 season, and is particularly looking forward to Toronto.

“I made my first professional start here in 2002,” she said. “It was in the Barber Dodge Pro Series (part of the Molson Indy program) but I don’t remember a lot about it. I don’t think I won, though, so we’ll have to try to change that this year.”

She said she hopes that Canadian driver Paul Tracy, who’s currently unemployed, gets a ride in time for the Toronto race.

“He’s a great name and it would be wonderful for the event to have a Canadian driver in the race, especially one as exciting as Paul is.

“He’d be a tough competitor out there, but all in all, it would be best to have him in the race.”

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