Ex-IndyCar driver Danica Patrick says that female racing drivers must place themselves on a grid also made up of male competitors in order to progress their careers.

In recent years, there have been pushes to increase female involvement in motorsport.

This included the W Series which raced for three seasons before folding last year, and the F1 Academy, which is currently enjoying its first campaign.

Formula 1 has seen a lack of women drivers involved in a driving capacity, which just a handful of drivers entering races during its 73-year history.

There has been greater success in other categories however, including for Patrick, who is an IndyCar race winner.

Asked on the Sky Sports F1 podcast regarding the push to see a female driver on the F1 grid, Patrick said: “Well, you’re assuming I want that, you’re assuming that is important to me, and it’s not.

“It’s always an interesting stance I have on it. I think that what makes the sport really popular is great racing – you can have half the field out there women and have it be follow the leader, and it’s not going to be interesting to watch.

“Good racing… and that’s what we have so much of these days in Formula 1, I mean pretty much everything other than Max [Verstappen] is a toss-up for who’s going to be second, third, fourth, fifth that weekend, and so that’s what makes it really appealing.

“So as someone who obviously was a girl, you’ve just got to come up like normal.

“I do have a little bit of… not a criticism, but an opinion about female series, is that it’s fine, it can give opportunity for some who might not get a chance otherwise to show what they can do but at the end of the day, you’re going to have to race against guys.

“So when you watch golf, you watch that a lot of times, a golfer that’s maybe not ranked as high, will rise to the occasion with whoever he’s golfing with, and I think that tends to happen in all sports.

“I just think that, giving proper tests, to be able to see if a female driver is fast enough, is a great way to know if there should be a next step forward.”

Patrick’s comments were supported by Alpine Academy driver Sophia Floersch, who currently races in the FIA Formula 3 Championship.

“Wholeheartedly agree,” she wrote on social media. Talent is only someone who can compete against the best in the sport. And that is currently (still) boys. The stopwatch decides.”

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