As an avid Formula One fan I’m always disappointing by the lack of women in the sport, in particular women in senior roles. Whilst the F1 paddock is dominated by men, women are (generally) left to ‘stand around and look pretty’ and very few are given jobs which seem them involved in the day-to-day running of F1 teams.
Even Claire Williams – the deputy Team Principle of the Williams F1 Team – has said that her father wasn’t keen on her taking a job in the motorsport. In an interview in 2013, Williams said that women need to be more “ballsy” if they want to progress in the sport and that people still expected she would get pregnant and disappear from the camera. In 2017, the boss of Sauber Monisha Kaltenborn, was forced to leave the team after a reshuffle of management.
Female drivers have tried but failed
Having watched many different types of motorsport it’s fair to say women don’t generally make it to the higher ranks, or certainly no where near as much as men. The most recent person to make it to test and F1 car during a race weekend was Williams test driver Susie Wolff but she retired from the sport soon afterwards. Many said that she was only supported within the sport because of her husband, Toto Wolff, boss of the Mercedes GP team.
Another lost talent was María de Villota who died in 2013 after suffering a cardiac arrest caused by the life changing injuries she received when she crashed an F1 car during testing at Duxford Aerodrome.
F1 isn’t just about being strong
Historically, critics of women in F1 have said that the sport is too physically demanding for women to participate. The upper body strength such as the demands on the neck and upper back. However, recent changes to the regulations have meant that less strength is required to control an F1 car.
The pinnacle of motorsport needs to take a lead in encouraging women engineers and managers
F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, with race technology eventually making it into road cars (such as energy recovery). Teams require constant development, with engineers being responsible for designing and building many aspect of the modern technology. The UK lacks the valuable input that women can add to design and construction with schools struggling to encvourage young women into science, maths and engineering. Formula One has the ability to make an impact on this.
Could Tatiana Calderon be the next hope for women in F1?
Colombian racing driver Tatiana Calderon is the latest women to be recruiting into F1. Her role will see her as text driver for Swizz team, Sauber. However, she is unlikely to ever get a race seat with her currently record which has seen her best career position as 6th in the Spanish Formula 3 series in 2016.