F1 CEO Doesn’t See Woman Driver Competing in F1 in Next Five Years

F1 CEO Doesn’t See Woman Driver Competing in F1 in Next Five Years

Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali said Wednesday it is “very unlikely” there will be a woman driver in the top level of the sport within the next five years. 

However, Domenicali stated that it’s “crucial in this moment to try to give the maximum possibility to women to come to Formula One. And this is something that we are totally dedicated [to].” 

There has not been a woman competing in an F1 World Championship grand prix since Lella Lombardi in the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix where she placed 12th. Lombardi is the only woman driver to score points in a F1 Grand Prix, registering half a point during the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. Over the last few decades, the only other woman driver who participated in a Grand Prix weekend was Susie Wolff, who was as a Williams test driver during the 2014 and ’15 seasons.

There’s been a push to find women talent and address the barriers to entry in F1 in recent years. Alpine took a step in that direction, launching its Rac(H)er program, which is “designed to reinforce meritocracy across genders in all areas of the company, from technical functions to racing and competition.” 

Per the team announcement, the new program “will also include the deconstruction of stereotypes using research with the funding of a scientific study to definitively break down all the pseudo-scientific alleged hurdles to F1 female competition [fitness, cognitive].”

The W Series was launched in 2019 as a “a free-to-enter championship” that eliminates the financial barriers while providing equal opportunity to help women climb the ladder of motorsports to F1, according to their website. Yet despite the series’s launch, not even champion Jamie Chadwick, who appears poised to win her third title, has received a chance at Formula Three or F2 yet. 

“We are trying to understand how we can—I don’t want to use the wrong term, but let’s say—prepare the right parameters also for the girls to come into the parameter at the right age with the right car, because this is really the key point,” Domenicali said, per The Race. “We are very happy with the collaboration with Formula W [W Series]. But we believe that in order to be able to get the chance for girls to be at the same level of competition with the guys, they need to be at more or less [at the same] age [as males] when they start to fight on the track at the level of Formula Three and Formula Two.

“So, we are working on that in order to see what we can do in order to improve the system. And you will see soon some action.”

Looking at the situation “realistically,” Domenicali added, “I don’t see—unless something that will be like a sort of meteorite coming into the earth—a girl in Formula 1 in the next five years.”

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