Ecclestone wants Female-only grand prix series

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While there are female Formula 1 drivers orbiting the sport, there are no current drivers competing in the actual grands prix. With names like Susie Wolff, Carmen Jordá and Simona di Silvestro having secured reserve, development or test driver roles, the series still has not placed a female as their main driver.

wolff susie williams team

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says he may have a solution for not only getting female drivers racing but also develop a ladder system to move female drivers through to F1 telling the Guardian:

“I thought it would be a good idea to give them a showcase. For some reason, women are not coming through – and not because we don’t want them. Of course we do, because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors.

“We have to start somewhere so I suggested to the teams that we have a separate championship and maybe that way, we will be able to bring someone through to F1. They could race before the main event, or perhaps on the Saturday qualifying day so that they had their own interest.

“It is only a thought at the moment but I think it would be super for F1 and the whole grand prix weekend.”

The big question isn’t whether people would enjoy a female open-wheel series as part of a grand prix weekend but if the teams would spend the money to create cars, personnel and resources to it.

The teams are already at the circuit but there would be a cost increase to run the cars and which cars would they run? Current specification F1 cars or another formula altogether like GP2 etc?

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Test Three - Day 1 -  Barcelona, Spain

Is this a good idea? Could GP2 not be used as the feeder series for female drivers? Isn’t it already? The issue is that perhaps even GP2 team owners are pressured by the financial costs of running a team and not willing to try and develop female drivers but a new series focused solely on female race drivers might be a better solution.

What do you think? Thumbs up or down?

Hat Tip: Guardian

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Tom Firth

Ok, why?

Tom Firth

You can’t gauge performance in a separate series, and if the person is talented enough and admittedly has a large enough bank balance (doesn’t matter who you are) then the usual ladder is the best approach, and this idea is pointless.

Negative Camber

There’s no femal eNASCAR series or Indycar but there is soccer and cycling at Tour de France as well as tennis.

Tom Firth

I don’t see why Motorsport needs that specific series though

Paul KieferJr

NASCAR didn’t need a female-only series. They already have Danica Patrick and she’s a competent driver as it is.

Tom Firth

Are ladies racing series in motorsport already, and for many years the WRC had a ladies cup, It’s now part of the ERC but I don’t see why we need a specific F1 feeder, for female drivers.

John The Race Fan

I bet Bernaise insists on sprnklers and white firesuits for his all-female GP series, too.

John The Race Fan

(For the record, I don’t take credit or that. It was all Mrs. Race Fan!)

Paul KieferJr

I gotta ask: Wasn’t Danica good enough for NASCAR? Wasn’t Simon di Silvestra good enough for IndyCar? Why is there this need to separate female from male if it’s still possible for them to compete on the same stage? The better question I have for Formula 1 and all its teams, past, present and future is “Why haven’t you put a female into a primary or secondary driver’s role”? I’d love to hear the answer to that question, and “costs” will not be a sufficient excuse for me.

Jason Smith

Honestly, it most likely comes down to the “Boys’ Club” mentality of F1. That being said, F1 is still a business and pay drivers are a reality for most of the teams regardless of the gender of the pay driver. I could see this as a way for female drivers to get the exposure to get the kind of sponsors that could pay for a real seat.
Realistically, the financial climate of a lot of the teams could help make a driver’s seat become a reality for a well-funded female driver.

Christine Swain

Unfortunately sponsorship and marketing are very male-dominated, which has made it even harder for women in the last few years to become adequetely funded, let alone well-funded.

Paul KieferJr

The products themselves are sort of male-oriented since that’s what they assume the auto products are for. I’ve only seen one female race driver promote one auto-related item: Danica Patrick for Peak Antifreeze. I know that there are other females out there who are gearheads, so why don’t we see more of them? When antifreeze, motor oil, etc. is mentioned, do you think “male”, “female” or “gender-neutral”?

scottmoyse

Other sports do it. I think this is a great idea as long as we end up with some in the main series. Race on Sunday morning & use last years F1 cars to extend their shelf life.

Treat it like MotoGP does with its 3 series. Its all part of the package.

jiji the cat

whilst F1 is a team sport, its also an indiviuals sport, the driver. Its not like leagues etc that are male or female only, there are plenty of female drivers, if they are good enough (and these days raise the cash) why cant they just be part of the series we have now?

dude

Sure, as long as there is a gay F1 series as well, but Todd would disagree.

Paul Bobs

What nonsense. There isn’t even enough money to go around for a single series.

Junipero Mariano

Absolutely. I wonder he could find enough women with that level of sponsorship to field a grid. If he and GP2 could, certainly one of them would already be in F1.

Since the traditional system has not found a female driver for F1 despite the demand, it seems incumbent upon the FIA, or FOM, or one of the big teams to produce one. Maybe through a multi-year apprenticeship/elimination program. Find 20 girls with potential through the GT Academy online trials. Take the top ten through karting to Formula 4, 5 to F3, and so on.

runnah

Actually females are the largest buying demographic in the US and most European countries.

Then the question would be then are they trying to attract women to watch or trying to get the largely male audience to watch.

jonnowoody

We could race around the kitchen and around the garden. Maybe call it the inaugural Benny Hill Grand Prix.
Please. Women can compete on their own terms in formula one, especially that now the physical strains have lessened.
What Mr E needs to do is to sponsor an environment where it is easier to bring the already talented women drivers through from the feeder formula into the last tear
on their undoubted merit.

runnah

I’d tune in for the champagne spraying…

runnah

The problem with doing any female series is that it automatically makes it seems like the lesser series thereby making females seem like the lesser sex. In some sports that are largely physical, like football or basketball, separate series are needed. Motorsports are still very physical but not as much.

Tom Firth

So much more to Motorsport than Bernie’s sunday afternoon show … Are lots of very talented racing drivers, who happen to be female throughout the sport right now, has been many in the past, including in Grand Prix Motor Racing and F1. Will be in F1 and the rest the sport in the future too.

Just because Bernie can’t attract them into his series – Are we really surprised given his previous comments on female racing drivers … doesn’t mean they need a segregated series.

Aritra Kimi Majumdar

good idea.

oHo

Ok, Bernie seems to try as hard as he can to prove his disconnect with reality. Lets just start by mandating that all teams have to be atleast 50% female. Sorry, how can any one start talking about equal rights when s..t like this is going on. Would I be a woman I would tell Bernie to f..k off. Claire Williams shows that it is based on merrit, not sex. She can hold her own and can prouldly claim her position. Why Susie does not get a drive may have more to do with her husband than her merrit, but… Read more »

Christine Swain

This is the wrong way to go about it. The true bottleneck is in the karts-to-car transfer – there’s a lot of talent among teenage women karters, but it struggles to get funds, contacts and the equal treatment (especially from sponsors) that men with the same talent get. There’s also a lot of pressure on young women from people who might sponsor them, to go into other areas of life. A concept that seriously aimed to resolve all this would be positioned at the base entry point to cars (14-16 year olds), not the perceived zenith. Have a network of… Read more »

Michael in Seattle

What a fantastic response. You are 100% correct – the bottleneck is at
the lower levels where, in my opinion, the continuing sexism of sponsors
runs rampant; that, and the ever present, “But we’ve *always* done it
this way.” group think.

To Bernie: ‘Separate but Equal’ has never
worked; it is a non-solution promoted to appease while reinforcing the
prejudices that created the inequality. If you are serious about
bringing women to Formula 1, get in touch with Christine Swain and throw
your vast wealth and support behind her ideas.

Jeff

Really insightful, Christine. As Runnah mentioned above, the female audience constitutes much of marketing trend and thus advertising dollar, so sponsors surely covet association with pioneer(s) women in such a prestigious sport. I share your opinion that status quo and gender-biased traditionalist in the ladder leading to premier series are the major obstacles; while Ecclestone’s solution is idiotic, his intention, providing an avenue for women that subverts traditionally-held preconceptions and thus unfair requirements, is heartfelt and logical. I like your proposal of tangential support, akin to media awareness classes for actors. The problem is incentivizing creation of national female series;… Read more »

Christine Swain

The FIA already has a division devoted to promoting women in motorsport. Unfortunately it hasn’t been able to do very much, particularly since the primary theme of the Todt era has been consolidating things, of assuming there is only one correct way for anything to be done. Sometimes that helps, but it also means whatever was established before tends to be propagated, even against the will of secondary parts of the FIA (as they get a smaller remit than they could reasonably use).

Peter Riva

Agreed.

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