Alice Powell, GP3, Yas Marina, 2013

Powell ready for “massive step” if she is handed F1 debut with Caterham

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Alice Powell, GP3, Yas Marina, 2013Alice Powell says she is ready to take a “massive step” if she is handed the chance to make her Formula One debut with Caterham at the final race of the season.

A report yesterday claimed administrators running the team had been offered a payment by Powell’s grandfather to run her in the car at the season finale.

Caterham, which went into administration last month, is seeking £2.35m via a crowdfund in order to participate in the final race of the season. It has raised just over half that total so far.

“It will be a massive step if it all happens,” said Powell on Twitter, “however you have to take chances and try your best.”

“Big thanks to my sponsors, the investors and my granddad,” she added.

Powell, 21, lies second in the Asian Formula Renault Series after 11 of 14 races. She raced in the F1-supporting GP3 category in 2012, finishing the year 19th, and two years before that won Britain’s Formula Renault BARC championship.

In order to participate in the final race she would have to obtain a superlicence, for which she will need to cover 300km of running in an F1 car.

Meanwhile Marcus Ericsson has formally severed his ties with team, ahead of his move to Sauber next season.

“Following recent events re Caterham Sports Limited and 1 MRT Sdn Bhd, my adviser Eje Elgh and I have decided to terminate, with immediate effect, all agreements connecting me to the Caterham F1 team,” said Ericsson in a statement on his website.

“This is a sad day as we have greatly enjoyed working with the team through a difficult and tough season.”

“I wish to thank Colin Kolles, Manfredi Ravetto, Cyril Abiteboul and every other member of the Caterham F1 team for your trust and confidence in me, and for making my first Formula One season an educational and unforgettable experience.

“In addition, I thank my good friend and team mate Kamui Kobayashi for being an inspiring benchmark throughout the year, and hope to see him back on the track soon.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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59 comments on “Powell ready for “massive step” if she is handed F1 debut with Caterham”

  1. Liam McShane (@)
    12th November 2014, 18:52

    Not going to happen.

  2. Neither have got nothing to lose! A single race can’t compromise her career if it goes badly, but if it goes well… Clearly all of this if Caterham can make it to what could be their final race. A female pay-driver may be the way to get to Abu Dhabi.

  3. Can’t see how a team struggling to find money, and asking people for some, can get a superlicense for Alice in so little time before Abu Dhabi. I’d like a woman to start a race but not on those circumstances… rushing everything until the very last second.

  4. I thought it was only first practice she was attempting to go for.

    I hope they manage to get a car to the grid, but I’m not sure if they will manage to get someone to drive it!

  5. My memory fails me… Have drivers gained a superlicence during free practice in the past?
    Would that then be valid for the race right after?

    Though doing 300km during Abu Dhabi’s FP1, 2 & 3 is pretty ambitious; one mechanical issue early on, and that’s all hope disintegrated.

    1. I believe Susie Wolff earned her Superlicense mileage at the German GP during her Practice run, although I may be wrong…

      1. @optimaximal

        Yeah, but that was her second stab at it. Her car went kaput at Silverstone.

        If Alice does get the go ahead, hopefully it’ll be a smooth weekend, as Caterham doesn’t have a second chance at this!

      2. No, you have to have a super licence to take part in a practice session, Susie got her one in testing. I’m fairly sure Mehri didn’t have one but was granted a special case because of his form in high level series. The same can’t be said of Powell, and anyway as much as I want all the teams to survive, Caterham still have 1 million to raise…

  6. I am sorry to say it, but who is Alice Powell?

    1. @raddie A competent-enough female racing in the lower ranks… Read the article much?

      1. @optimaximal Red from the beginning till the end :-)
        But everybody here can by heart name at least ten more competent-enough drivers with super licence. It looks to me only to be a PR move….

        1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
          12th November 2014, 20:41

          @raddie – Not really a PR move by Caterham. It’s simply that Powell’s grandfather is willing to foot the bill to make it happen. Hardly a PR move.

          1. @braketurnaccelerate And did I say PR move “by Caterham”? :-)

      2. Competent… well that’s a stretch…

    2. @raddie, my 1st. thoughts also, and at the risk of offending all the female readers and a large portion of politically correct male readers, my 2nd. thought was she looks neither fit enough or lite enough to be an F1 driver, having read that she is actually racing I have to assume that is an old photo.

      1. @hohum you also have real no idea of the perspective of the shot, the time of the day nor can you see her lower body…

        Bit of a leap, yes?

        1. @optimaximal, no, not really, you will find that the upper arms of a woman are a very good guide to the lower body, look around you and see for yourself.

          1. @hohum Erm…Simona de Silvestro? :P

          2. @wsrgo, I said “arms” not………

          3. @hohum I thought we had established that motor racers (male and female) generally developed large upper arms and neck muscles.

          4. @optimaximal, bulging biceps ? I don’t think so.

          5. I agree the pic doesn’t do her any credit but then I looked on the web. She looks more like someone who plays hockey rather than a suitable f1 driver. Surely this one event would only delay the inevitable for the team, not benefit. As a woman myself I want to see a competent driver who has earned their fame. This charitable driving for PR and money is not what helps a woman’s driving credibility. I’d rather wait for the best driver, if any, to come along.

        2. The photo I have just seen of her standing with Lewis shows she is clearly heavier than he is.

  7. Why on earth would she want this? Is the appeal of F1 enough to destroy your career?

    She isn’t a bad driver (miles ahead of Carmen Jorda) but she’s more of a Chilton than a Vettel. Trying to get your superlicense in one go is very ambitious, but qualifying within the 107% rule, finishing a race, while lacking proper preparations with the team, in the gym and this little thing with Caterham being in administration.

    While I wish her the best of luck for her career (I do think her, Tatiana Calderon and Beitske Visser are proper racers who could very well break down barriers) I really question the wisdom of entering F1 under these circumstances.

    1. @npf1 If you are a Chilton, then getting as many races as you can in F1 is like a race won each time out! I do hope she can make it to Abu Dhabi, if it helps the team as well, possibly even just to have a final race. Ericsson is out – just run Kobayashi, Sainz Jr or Merhi, and Powell!

      Even if who eventually gets the 2014 prize money, for 2015-16, is unclear (hopefully Caterham OR Marussia, and NOT extra for Bernie/top teams) – if one of the small teams gets it, then they are a viable proposition for a buyer to run, for the next two years at least, giving us 20 cars next year and 22 with Haas in 2016. Even if the teams will be McLaren B and Ferrari B, it’s better to have them with Magnussen/Vandoorne/Marciello, alongside Toro Rosso’s Sainz/Verstappen, than not existing at all.

      PS. You are right in that Visser could do well next year in FR3.5, and Calderon is gradually getting there in F3, like Powell was in GP3, Patrick in NASCAR and de Silvestro in Indycar. But, I thought that Powell lacked the funds to push on (hence Asian Formula Renault), so perhaps this is a last roll of the dice – better to be in 1 F1 race, than none at all.. ask Jolyon Palmer, who was probably looking to Marussia for 2015.

    2. Also, doesn’t the super license cost something like £100,000 nowadays? I seem to remember Lewis Hamilton complaining about it a few years ago.

  8. This whole episode shows what F1 is becoming , I’m all for female drivers on the grid but does Alice deserve it at this stage in her career ? .

    I’m well aware this is more a PR stunt than anything else but we are going in to the final race with two drivers gpu g for the title , should a PR stunt really be allowed at this stage of the season.

    I’m aware Alice is a capable driver but her record is nowhere near good enough for F1. It’s laughable that Jenson looks like losing his seat next year when things like this happen .

    I hope Alice improves over the next few years and gets a seat fairly because this does nothing to promote women in F1 , if anything it’s hurts their cause.

  9. At best, I think her debut would be as successful as Lotterer’s was at Spa.

    It’d be nice to get some mileage, but I feel that she’d be better off waiting until a seat becomes available with a team that has some stability. Even then, with the talent that’s currently available, she’ll need to bring a big sponsor budget with her…

  10. This is getting ridiculous. No offence to her but she’s hasn’t even got anything on the likes of Chilton and Ericsson, who were mildly successful in the lower-tier championships. She managed one points finish in a whole season in GP3, and I would doubt she would get within the 107% rule. Though it would be great to see a female F1 driver, they should only deserve it on merit and not family and sponsorship money.

  11. This episode has created the desired effect of getting powell’s name in the papers, since most had never heard of her before and probably never will again.

    Another feature of modern motorsports : hundreds of ambitious drivers shuffling around looking for 20 opportunities to race in f1. All chasing the same tiny sponsorship pot, all chasing the same tiny media coverage, all spouting the same pr drivel about their dream of being in f1 abs becoming world champion.

    It’s barely worth interviewing most of them, purely because their fate is not in their hands.

  12. I can’t see this being a good thing for either party, or F1 as a whole.

    For Powell: She will be woefully unprepared for a free practice run, let alone qualifying or a full race. She would be incredibly slow and unlikely to last a race distance. Many have said that the new cars are physically easier to drive, but it’s relative. Driving an F1 car is still a physically and mentally punishing task that requires diligent preparation, something Powell will not have the resources or time for.

    For Caterham: Is it worth their time (and their supporter’s contributions) to field a driver with zero experience in race cars even approaching the standard of F1? A disastrous showing (which is likely) won’t exactly have buyers or prospective sponsors flocking to their team. Caterham may be seen as a joke and damage their reputation and any possibility of a future. If they’re coming back just for this, then why even bother?

    For F1: This is supposed to be the pinnacle of Motorsport. By pay driver standards Powell is not up to scratch. I can only imaging the negative headlines that Powell racing would attract after her seat being bought for her by her grandfather. This isn’t the way to attract viewers. It’ll more than likely undermine the idea that F1 is a credible competition, something that is already under attack from collapsing teams, DRS and double points.

    Finally and in my own opinion I’d ideally like to see a woman driver break into F1 on her own merit, and not be parachuted into a seat in a floundering team solely due to her grandfather’s money.

    1. However if her Grandfather wants to give her the Xmas present of a lifetime, and it allows Caterham to survive as a saleable team for next year, why not ? after all it’s only showbiz.

      1. @hohum

        Sometimes I read your comments and think: “that guy’s so much like me that it’s scary. Every thought I have on a topic, I find he’s usually already written in the comments section before I get a chance to say it.” Are you really me and I just don’t know it? LOL

        1. @daved, It’s a parallel universe thing.

          1. @hohum
            What a relief! I was starting to worry I was going to have to dial back the meds but a multi-verse thing….that means I should just dial the meds back up and enjoy the ride :)

    2. Plenty of dudes have been parachuted into seats on the strength of family resources. Given her record in lower series, I don’t think she would be nearly the most egregious example. She has a minor title and is running strong in a somewhat recognized series right now. Let’s be clear, she is no Ericsson, but by the looks of it, no Ide. If her grandpa wants to thrown down a couple mil to see her run 25 laps in FP1, she’s just as qualified to do that as any of the dozen or so money-bags pay drivers of yore who never made it out of pre-qualification. And who doesn’t want to see a woman succeed in F1 on merit? The question is why do some want to only admit them “on merit,” a standard never applied universally to men.

  13. From her point of view, it’s her only chance to drive F1 so she has to go for it.

    I really hope it goes well, if it happens. I do wish her well but I’m nervous it might not, with so little preparation, a tricky car and not exactly stellar credentials, and then might it set back the general cause of women driving F1.

    When the right woman does come along, I’d like her to be brilliant, upset the boys and win the wdc.

  14. Just what Rosberg needs in Abudhabi- someone to send Lewis into the barriers while being lapped.

    1. wow that’s actually just what i was thinking: we don’t need someone with 0 F1 experience affecting this amazing championship battle. i really hope this doesnt happen.

      1. Grandpa is code for Rosberg…

        1. she could just as easily take out Rosberg or both of them and make Hamilton the champion

  15. To clarify, does she need to run 300km in an F1 car before the race weekend begins, or is she allowed to attempt to cover 300km over the Friday running?

    The entire story is totally ridiculous, but hey I’d love to start an F1 race too and she’s got a racing resume which is better than can be said of me!

    1. just another excuse for Caterham to hold off pulling the metaphorical life support. I mean, 5 years at the back of the grid, only a couple of good showings from memory, plus. There isn’t anyone on this earth that would by a team with 15,000,000 in debts plus trying to run a full operation. I mean, I am sad that it had to come to this because smaller teams usually grow into bigger teams, but it’s just not right for a team like that to be at the back nearly all the time, stay in F1. Try moving to the new ‘Super GP2’ (GP2 with bigger engines) that Bernie has come up with, or even GP3 or something even smaller then that. That’s be a better solution, and when the teams have the funding (stable financial backing, sponsors, and people that want to invest their time into the team) move up to F1.

  16. If they need a pay driver why not go for Maldonado. He seems to be crashing in FP so much that he has enough time left to jump in a second car.

  17. I only remember Alice in GP3 and she was awful, but it looks like she’s doing great currently so good luck.

  18. I don’t know who Alice Powell is. I am not sure if she is good enough to handle a F1 car. But thats not what is worrying me with right now.
    What I am wondering here is that F1 cockpits are quite tight. Judging by her photo she may or may not display an overly enthusiastic attitude towards the good old pack of crisps and those highly caloric Mars bars.
    Thats what is worrying me right now.

  19. Why Caterham needs crowdfund? For Rent their Car?

  20. £ 35,000 for an F1 weekend? Sign me up!!!!!

  21. Crowdfunding eh? If Caterham wants to do this right, go ask Kamui.

  22. Excuse my ignorance but are women even allowed to drive in Abu Dhabi?

    1. Yes they are, by Gulf state standards, the United Arab Emirates are fairly liberal, certainly no Saudi Arabia. My sister worked for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office at the Embassy in Abu Dhabi for three years (standard foreign posting length in the FCO).

    2. Apparently, yes:

      “Can women drive?

      Absolutely! Women of all nationalities drive in the U.A.E.”

      Found that here: http://www.zu.ac.ae/main/en/_careers/faqs.aspx#womendrive

    3. @tino852 hahaha well spotted, it’s for sure the case in Saudi Arabia, I don’t know about Abu Dhabi.
      In the meantime, Verstappen is not allowed to have a driver license, so…

  23. It was nice from Ericcson mentioning Kamui Kobayashi. I wonder where KK will end up next year.

    1. Back in the WEC with AF Corse probably.

  24. “F1 is the pinnacles of motorsport” . Grandfather Ecclestone and his accomplices have turned formula 1 in a farce.

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