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Are F1 bosses failing women?

Enough words, F1 teams need to actually make changes

26w ago

The F1 race at the Nürburgring was great last weekend, 90 minutes of drivers on an unfamiliar track, braking late, gossiping on the radios and cars trying to squeeze through spaces that weren’t there. And it suddenly dawned on me that something was missing: women.

Why aren’t there any female racing drivers in F1? I know people have asked this before, but I just don’t get why nothing more has been done. I’m more confused by the lack of women in the top tier than I am by those other tiers Boris just announced.

Women, without a doubt, can be just as good at racing as their male counterparts – which countless women in history have proved. There is no reason why your gender would impact your ability to control a machine. And, yet, there hasn’t been a female F1 driver this century.

Surely, if F1 doesn’t wake up to this alarming gap soon, it will be left behind on a sexist heap with Harvey Weinstein.

And, before people comment ‘well there is actually already a Formula W series’, honestly, shut up. That is not the be-all-end-all.

I’m a man, so I can have no special claim over any injustices here. But, all the W series seems to be doing is sidelining women away as part of a box-ticking exercise. If I recall correctly, at the same time the W series was announced, the use of pretty girls on the starting grid was also stopped. And all during the height of #MeToo.

I assume the above was done by a panicking FIA – as they should be. In any other sport where both men and women compete, they both get just as much coverage and acclaim. It is not the case in motorsport.

I bet very few people could name three female racing drivers running today. And it’s a great shame because there some great ones.

Tatiana Calderón , for example, who after one season in F2 is now a test driver at Sauber. And Jamie Chadwick, who won the inaugural W series and has also been racing in F3. These drivers will become wasted talents if we are not careful.

I’m sure if you asked any F1 boss ‘Should we have more women in F1?’ they would scream ‘YES!’ and reel off their company policy on equality. But how many are actually doing anything?

The only boss who seemed to really care in the top space was Claire Williams, who hired Chadwick as a development driver last year and previously hired Susie Wolff in 2014. But now Williams has gone, I hope that does not mean the same for Chadwick.

If F1 is going to be the top of the pyramid of motorsport, it needs to ensure there is real equal opportunity and support. F1 remember is not only about inspiring great drivers, but also brilliant engineers. And, in the UK at least, just 12% of engineers are women. That’s crazy, so think how much good could be done.

Yes, it would have been great to see Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott get a drive in F1 practice last weekend. But, it’s also about bloody time F1 bosses started putting actions ahead of words and promoted more women.

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Comments (5)

  • F1 bosses will promote women when there is a woman ready and deserving to be promoted. There have been none in a long time.

    You mention Calderon and Chadwick. Calderon was pretty much nowhere in F3, GP3 and F2. Chadwick is doing ok but she's still at F3 level and its too early - and even then she's not exactly dominating. But let's see, get her in F2 first and she'll get her chance to convince the bosses.

      6 months ago
    • I agree it should be on merit, but sometimes I think they need to take a punt on who they think will be great. I don't think Verstappen had to do F2 before joining F1.

        6 months ago
    • I fully agree with you there. But I don't feel Calderon or even Chadwick are good examples of that.

      Verstappen was fast-tracked, but if you look at it he did more in that first year of single seater racing than Calderon did in her entire career...

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        6 months ago
  • Whilst I agree with your sentiment I think you are slightly mistaken about W Series, this was introduced to showcase the fact that there are women out there racing and to give them some of the exposure to a wider audience that they deserve. Claire Williams was against the idea at the beginning but was encouraged to go and see for herself and was promptly converted - shame others have yet to follow her example...

      6 months ago
    • I think the W series is great, I just fear - as I presume Claire did - that it ends up as the ceiling rather than the stepping stone. I guess proof will be when a boss takes a chance on it.

        6 months ago