Tatiana Calderon, Sauber, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Improving opportunities for women a “priority” for F1 – Carey

2019 F1 season

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Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey says improving opportunities for women to participate on and off the track is one of the sport’s “strategic priorities” for the year head.

Speaking at the Geneva International Motor Show, Carey said the sport will “emphasise two key strategic priorities” in the 2019 F1 season. These will also include improving awareness of the sport’s hybrid power units.

“The first [priority] is to build not just on our technological leadership but the incredible achievements in efficiency and sustainability for our cars and hybrid engines,” said Carey. “We’ll continue to invest in opportunities to further reduce carbon emissions and other initiatives to be at the forefront of road-relevant technology.

“Second, we want to continue to emphasise that Formula 1 is a sport for everyone. That means continuing to emphasise opportunities for females on and off the track and continue to expand as a global sport in every part of the world.

“We want to be a sport that continues to exude mystique and glamour, yet one that at the same time is open inviting to all.”

Carey drew attention to the arrival of Formula 2’s first female competitor, Tatiana Calderon, in this year’s championship. The last woman to drive an F1 car in an official session was Susie Wolff at the 2015 British Grand Prix, but no woman has started an F1 race for over 40 years.

The new season is “just a step in our longer-term plans”, Carey added.

“Beyond next year we look forward to continuing to work with the FIA to introduce more significant changes on the track, to improve competition and action, to bringing Formula 1 to new an exciting place like Hanoi in Vietnam, long-term initiatives like the growth of our Formula 1 over-the-top TV platform, and much more.”

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42 comments on “Improving opportunities for women a “priority” for F1 – Carey”

  1. “That means continuing to emphasise opportunities for females on and off the track and continue to expand as a global sport in every part of the world.

    We want to be a sport that continues to exude mystique and glamour, yet one that at the same time is open inviting to all.”

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand why women should have extra opportunities and handouts just because they’re women. This sport is open to all already; anyone has the opportunity to showoff what they can do and if they’re good enough, they’ll get recognised.
    I don’t want to see women in this sport just because they’re women and I do not see why they should have an easier time getting into Formula One purely based on their gender. The best drivers in the world should compete in F1 regardless of gender.

    If anyone can show me accounts where women generally have a harder time entering F1 because of sexism or whatever based on actual facts and/or research, I’ll change my mind. But saying women have a harder time because Susie Wolff said so or something is not an actual argument; that’s anecdotal evidence.

    In fact, the reason why men dominate this sport is based on biology. I’ve said this before but I’ll make the case again;
    There are fundamental differences between men and women. One of them is physique; women generally have 2/3 the muscle mass men do, making it easier for a man to participate in a demanding sport. Men outperform women on spatial awareness tests. Spatial awareness being an exceptionally crucial skill in racing, and a skill where men have an advantage in. Men are much more likely to take risks and are more competitive, where women tend to be more cautious. Women are more complacent and are less likely to take advantage of opportunities for professional advancements. All these contribute to why men are more naturally capable of being a racing driver. Now, of course there are exceptions; Caulderon is a much better driver than I’ll ever be, but I’m basing this on the GENERAL case, and generally, men are just more suitable for Motorsport than women.

    https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/112/40/12354.full.pdf (The ‘discussion’ section lists the conclusion if you do not have the time, pg 12358)

    1. But none of the men in F1 are examples of men “in general”. They’re exceptions, they’re a 1 in 400,000,000 freak.

      There’s evidence of greater variability in male populations, and yes most of the interesting things take place at the tail ends of variation which yes means a greater likelihood of finding those freaks from the male population. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t freaks amongst the female populations who might be seriously talented racing drivers. The odds of finding them though are much lower.

      This is ultimately commercially motivated. There would be a lot of value for marketing reasons having a female driver who can seriously compete against the best. Given the lack of women participating in Motorsport, and the hypothetical objective reasons why even fewer of them are competitive, it stands to reason to broaden the opportunities in an attempt to discover those potential gems hiding out there.

      I mean it’s not like it’s taking a place away from guys like us anyway, the odds of normal working or middle class folks getting into F1 is already a practical impossibility, you’ll probably never get another Hamilton again. So I am curious if there are any women out there truly at this elite level.

      1. This is ultimately commercially motivated. There would be a lot of value for marketing reasons having a female driver who can seriously compete against the best.

        I think there is a lot of value having female f1 driver for marketing and commercial reasons and almost regardless of their driving skills. The reason we have not yet seen female driver drive f1 car in f1 race is because there still has not been good enough female driver for a team to take that risk. I’d argue that while the entry level skill requirement for women in f1 is quite low the level of skill of these drivers is still not enough. Calderon, wolff, jorda etc are all hopelessly slow. Just too slow to offset the lack of points and prize money.

        It is fair to say jorda’s hiring was pure marketing stunt as she has never driven f1 car as far as I remember. Wolff bought her own seat and f1 drive with toto’s money and influence and calderon is either elevated to f2 because of gender or because telmex is hoping to cash in on the “woman in f1” craze. Which means both. After some races in f2 she will be eligible to drive f1 car in free practice sessions and I expect that to happen this year for the obvious reasons. I also expect sophie flörsch to drive f1 car this year because she is a woman and had that spectacular crash in macao f3 race last season. But as for race drivers. Nobody is going to take that chance with those slowpokes. F1 is forced to wait someone who can finish inside top 10 in f3 at least. Preferrably inside top top 10 in f2.

        All that being said Danica has more than proved being female racing driver is extremely lucrative proposition to high level motorsports series and team. Despite her average skills at actually driving the race car she made tons of money for herself and the top team she was driving for in nascar. And the publicity was humongous. I don’t think any other driver ever coming to nascar has got that kind of attention. But danica was still way above what these wolffs or calderons can even dream of. If you look danica’s race records she is not bad. She was inside top 10 in almost every indycar season she drove in. She was skilled. Not a winner skilled but skilled for sure. And to prove how much easier women have it in motorsports she got opportunities that no man would get with those results. Top drives, top sponsorship deals and tons of media attention.

        When f1 gets its own danica it is going to be media frenzy like nothing before. Or f1 might get some jorda/calderon instead who will fail massively and completely. Either way it is going to happen as there is tons of financial potential in that. If f1 plays it smart they wait until they get someone good enough. In reality I think the only obstacle to that is the super license points. To get those 40 points is way beyond the driving skills of these women I talked about so free practice runs is the best they can hope for. Unless they get exception which I 90% expect to happen. Maybe that exception is going to be giving the W series winner those 40 points.

    2. pastaman (@)
      5th March 2019, 12:48

      Hahaha wow, did this article touch a nerve? Here’s a great idea, why don’t we build a wall around F1 to keep the females out? We can even get them to pay for it.

      While we’re making up stats, men are 100x more like to post on the Internet about how men are better than women.

      Link: https://www.racefans.net/2019/03/05/improving-opportunities-for-women-a-priority-for-f1-carey/#comments

      1. @pastaman

        men are more likely to post anything on the internet.

        Why arnt people proposing we need more women playing race sims I wonder. Not enough recognition and money in it from both sides.

        Women’s motorsport will be subsidisedby men.

        1. Here’s an idea to get more women playing racing sims: don’t be a bellend to them when they do play.
          That goes for every other field of activities. Including F1.

      2. @pastaman This article didn’t hit a nerve, but my comment clearly did.

        Never did I say I wanted women out of F1 anywhere in my comment; nothing but a gross exaggeration and a Straw-man argument. “Making up stats” is an interesting observation, despite the fact I linked all my “made up” stats in my comment and took them directly from actual research and studies, so it’s very obvious that you didn’t read any of the links, that you didn’t do any research whatsoever, and you merely just disregarded what I said purely based upon the fact that you disagree without contributing anything constructive or informative to the conversation, without making any real argument or case to support your opinion at all. Completely counter-intuitive and counter-productive.

        Facts don’t care about your feelings. It’s not my fault that basic biology doesn’t align with your subjective view on women and society.

    3. Men and women do have differences in muscle mass, but I struggle how to see it as all directly advantageous for the men. Muscle density, and power capacity is a biological advantage, sure, but I would claim that women have a far bigger advantage than those two put together, they are physically alot lighter. Their heads are also smaller and lighter, which means their neck muscles have it easier in high G aswell.

      Driving a F1 car is not so physical that women’s physiology would prevent them from doing it on a competitive level, in fact, I suspect women having a much lighter frame is a considerable advantage.

      Men’s superior spatial awareness, however, is a trait breeded into them by nature… and if women wish to make gains in that regard, they need to start going out with spears during hunting season for a few generations, and let nature kill off the unaware bloops before reproducing.

      1. That’s a good point you make about women having a lighter frame, and while this would improve lap times, I don’t think the advantage is awfully significant compared to having a tougher, stronger physique, especially when we discuss endurance, where constant exertion is expected. Having a tougher build rather than a lighter frame over a period of time, I believe, is significantly more advantageous in this aspect.

    4. Keep calm and don’t worry. Women wont have more opportunities than the fantastic long list of pay drivers we got to see in f1 for decades. And you flood people under loads of ‘facts’ and biology but still your stuff about “women are more complacent and are less likely to take advantage of opportunities for professional advancements” is laughable at best.

      1. @spoutnik I was paraphrasing a study conducted in 2015 by Harvard business school students; “4,000 participants, we find that, compared to men,
        women have a higher number of life goals, place less importance
        on power-related goals, associate more negative outcomes (e.g.,
        goal conflict and tradeoffs) with high-power positions, perceive
        power as less desirable though equally attainable, and are less
        likely to take advantage of opportunities for professional advancement

        We can discuss the methodology and credibility of this study if you’d like because if you say it’s “laughable”, please provide reasons.

        1. I don’t discuss the study validity, I discuss the relevance of putting this in your demonstration against something that hasn’t even been said. Liberty wants to do more promotion towards women because it’s a huge market and you post a lengthy text about why women are less capable. What has it to do with the statement? And even if its actually the plan (which isn’t) how is that worse than the bunch of pay drivers? It’s like you feel the imaginary purity of the sport would be tainted by it.

          1. @spoutnik The purity of the sport comes with the skill of the drivers, which is what I care about. Gender doesn’t play a part in it at all, so I’m not sure why you’ve said that.
            I’ve seen many people make statements about creating more opportunities for women, why sexism is stopping women from entering the sport, how women have a harder time etc. My text was merely a generalisation covering all the points of this topic; women shouldn’t have handouts because they’re women, sexism is not a driving factor anymore, the huge disparity between male and female drivers can be explained through biology and nature. That’s why the studies I felt were relevant.

            On the topic of pay drivers, that’s a separate discussion and I don’t think you can conflate the two. My entire point is that the accessibility to Formula One is made to any gender and neither gender should have handouts for any reason. Sacrificing this just to end pay drivers is not the best solution.

          2. @smartez you keep trying making a point on something that doesn’t exist. Doing some promotion to reach a female market is hardly handing unfair opportunities to women. Your devotion to make your point stand is suspicious.
            Whats wrong with trying to attract women on a market where people are 99% males? On a commercial point of view it is stupid. As for having motorsports being ‘open’ to everyone, up until recently we had grid girls and super macho attitudes at all levels so there’s still a lot of work to do (though we got to see quite a lot of progress recently). 40 years without a single female racer explained by biology, how convenient.

          3. @spoutnik “you keep trying making a point on something that doesn’t exist” My point is that women shouldnt have an easier time because they’re women and the disparity of gender in motorsport can be explained through biology, so I’m not sure what you mean.

            And yes, attracting women to a certain thing by giving them extra opportunities purely based on gender is inherently unfair, dare I say sexist. I don’t see people wanting the same thing for women in sanitation; where’s the cry for more opportunities for women working in sewers? Where’s the cry for women working in mines? In fact, why don’t we call for more male nurses, or more male Health and Beauty specialists?

            There’s a very easy and simple answer to that, and that’s men and women have different qualities and interests. Men are not as interested nor not as naturally good at nursing and health and beauty as women are. Women are not as interested or as good as men working in mines or sanitation.

            Also, no, it isn’t convienent, it’s fact. To ignore the biological differences between men and women that give men an advantage in a field of motorsport is blissfully ignorant. There are fields In which women have a natually biological advantage in too, and I bet someone would call me a man-hating feminist if we discussed those.

            If you don’t think biology is to explain for the disparity in terms of gender in F1, fine, but then what is? Explain to me, by backing your case with studies and research, why the lack of women in F1?

    5. @smartez I get where you’re coming from, and I understand the biological differences – but you cannot claim that there is indeed equal opportunity for women whilst also denouncing women who have tried and claim otherwise. Their evidence is anecdotal, sure—but it’s more evidence than you have.

      Look, my view is there is probably a fundamental, biological, chemical reason that men are attracted to driving (particularly karting) than women. But I don’t think we will ever really know for sure without experimenting and throwing a few hundred kids, even gender split, at karts for a period of time with equal support and equalised machinery and seeing which cream rises.

      It doesn’t explain the lack of female engineers though. This could be the same; not sure.

      When I did my IT degree, there were all of 3 women out of over 50. No biological, physical advantages for males there. Maybe a cultural thing? Dunno. Tough question with elusive answers.

      1. @justrhysism You are correct in what you say about the equal opportunity bit. In fact, it’s rather difficult for me to prove that, not because it doesn’t exist, but there isn’t a real conclusive way of doing it. So this is where I stand; unless someone can show me actual studies and research that demonstrates women don’t have equal opportunities in this sport, I’ll assume they do. If someone can show me actual discrimination against women entering this sport, (and not through anecdotal evidence), I’ll change my mind, but right now, as there is none, it’s just logical to assume not.
        The only thing I can add to this is discussing the status of women in our society; I don’t believe sexism is a driving force anymore. Women are in all sorts of positions, I even have a female prime minister. Women are living freer and greater lives than ever, so with this in mind, if equal opportunities for women in F1 do not exist, I doubt it’s because of sexism.

        “But I don’t think we will ever really know for sure without experimenting and throwing a few hundred kids, even gender split, at karts for a period of time with equal support and equalised machinery and seeing which cream rises.” That would be a very interesting experiment, and one that’s achievable. I would be all for that. The only thing I’d challenge about that quote is that I do believe we know for certain and the experiment wouldn’t be totally necessary. My statement was based upon scientific theory, and all the biological differences between men and women can easily explain why men are more apt for racing purely through understanding alone. However I’m not against the idea of this experiment, it would contribute to the discussion greatly.

        It’s interesting you mention culture as well, like with your IT degree. It would be naive to ignore that men and women generally have different interests; you can easily guess and logically assume that more women would be interested in Health and Beauty than men would. Maybe computers just interest men more? Similarly, maybe intense high-velocity, adrenaline fuelled racing and cars just attracts men more? This opens up an entirely new wing of discussion now that I’m thinking about it; maybe there’s a lack of opportunities for women because in general, women are just not interested? Most of the people I know into F1 are male as well. I never really thought about the cultural differences until now.

        1. @smartez To be clear, I don’t believe that women necessarily have equal opportunity; and won’t have until the “old guard” of “boys club” men have moved on and are replaced by people who evaluate on merit without an unconscious bias.

          But even purely on merit, I suggest that it is arguably tougher for women (in the long term). Should a woman want to start a family, immediately there’s a delay in her career – unless she goes back to work almost immediately (possible). This is possible for desk positions, but probably not wise for pregnant female engineers flying around the world. If a women is a driver, pregnancy is realistically out of the question until the end of her career. The same is not true for men starting a family (although Hamilton claims that children are parachutes, costing a few tenths).

          I don’t believe it will ever be truly equal. I believe that the best we can do is to try to encourage women more (which, by definition, is unequal) to choose these career paths. Ultimately, I do believe that a team (racing or technical, or even in IT) does benefit from varying viewpoints and problem solving methodologies, brought about by varying minds and cultures.

          When it comes to racing, it has to be a meritocracy, but this needs to start at grass roots. I do believe that women can compete the same as men in a car—there are exceptions to our generalised biological encoding (for strength, spatial-awareness etc); but there are only 20-odd seats available. Most men don’t qualify.

          Of course, I have no evidence for any of my claims here, I’m aware of that. But I do feel my viewpoints are logical and reasonable.

        2. @smartez anyhow – thanks for an intelligent conversation on a topic which often results in flame-wars.

  2. Majority of women who have done full season in f3 or gp3 have got f1 tests or f1 opportunities.

  3. What opportunities do they lack?

    Or is this about some kind of F1 sponsored hormone treatment? Genuinely confused.

  4. Improving opportunities for women a “priority” for F1


  5. Oppertunities is the key. If they don’t deserve the credit to make it to the grid, than it is their own fault, but at least bring ‘m closer to showing their skills.

    Sidenote: i sometimes wonder about the social conditioning. Even if women get an equal chance, are they not to some degree (although this has probably decreased over the last few decades) still sort of taught that the racing is a mans thing? No matter how good a woman would be at it, if you enter the ‘game’ with the idea (!) that you’re already perceived as more a gimmick than a serious contender, might have sort of a ‘missfit effect’….but then again, i haven’t studied it, so i might be wrong. Wouldn’t mind if I am.

  6. This is a complex “problem” that will take many years to resolve and it comes down to improving the gender diversity in the starting “pot” that good racing drivers are chosen from.

    I’d imagine the general process to make it to this “pot” is something like this (assuming there is enough disposable cash available in the family… but that’s another matter):
    – 1) Child watches racing with parents
    – 2) Child decides they want to try racing
    – 3) Parents agree to let child try racing
    – 4) Child tries karting
    – 5) Parents decide to support child and enter karting championship(s)

    By the time we get to step 5, what’s the split between male and female competitors? Looking at the MSA British Kart Championship top 10 seedings for this year; all 10 are male (http://www.abkc.org.uk/seeded-drivers/). What hope do we have of seeing a genuinely talented female in Formula One, if we don’t currently have any females looking promising at the very base level?

    The problem may begin at the first step I identified above. When I was a child I watched Formula One with my Dad every Sunday from the age of three and was mesmermised and hooked. Would my Dad have encouraged me to come and watch with him if I were a girl? Perhaps… perhaps not… society still has a (slowly dying) segregation in which “boys play with cars” and “girls play with dolls”. This parental attitude will take time to be totally abolished.

    Which brings us onto my second point. Despite being a young boy who loved racing and watched it every week; it never crossed my mind that I could be a racing driver. To be competitive, I needed to have had that thought and convince my parents to act on it by the age of 10. Perhaps this suggests that whether male or female, the push to start racing also comes from the parents.

    The crux of it all is that they then actually have to be good. While not the meritocracy that football or rugby are (for example), a child still has to show some serious skill in motor racing to make it anywhere. Lance Stroll might be a pay driver, but he’d still beat all of us and probably any woman currently in an FIA series. There is no point in pushing the best woman into Formula One if that woman is still “x” seconds behind the worst man on the grid.

    When it happens (and it will… maybe in five years, maybe in fifty), I’ll welcome a talented woman onto the grid and probably support them (I like an underdog!), but the “pot” needs to improve first; something which isn’t actually F1’s fault.

    1. Not at all disagreeing with your post, still a question out of interest: do you have children?

      1. baasbas – no I don’t have children.

        1. I suspected that. For me this was the trigger: “This parental attitude will take time to be totally abolished.”

          As I do own several of them… with a nice variety of all kinds of gender as well… I can add a bit of anecdotal experience. The elder one, who happens to be a boy, was only barely old enough to drag himself along the floor leaving a trail of saliva while spreading a foul scent from time to time (you get the picture). His toys consisted of soft thingies one is supposed to bite on and other bits and bobs in joyful colours big enough not to swallow. No ‘typical boy’ stuff. Still he took a wooden block and started sliding it across the floor making engine sounds. This was surprising since that is not behaviour my partner and I have demonstrated to him (you might think that). No older brothers to copy from. We still don’t know where he picked that up. And on the other hand, the youngest one is of the girl-type. Just the other day she set up tiny chairs in the kitchen and I ended up sipping imaginary tea sitting in a circle which also included her indoor footwear which happens to resemble an orange clownfish who apparently seems to be lost… And no, again, that is not something she picked up from observing my behaviour…

          I suppose it will come down to the nature vs nurture debate. I believe reality is a mix of those where the nurture part is actually as broad as society… not limited to parents.

  7. Here’s a great experiment for all involved in promoting women in Motorsport.
    Buy a Kart simulator for a Windows PC
    30 euros (Kart Race Pro is superb) Playseat 140 Euros. Wheel-pedals 140 euros.

    Now report how well your daughters took to it.

  8. I don’t care if a dog pilots an F1 car. We all know the general skill list required to be a modern F1 driver. At the end of the day lap times are king. Can i even say king… Of course I can. FFS what is going on in the PC world today.. I just hope they dont use a female for marketing purposes and that she is given her opportunity based on talent alone and that she is able to run with the hunt all year long.

  9. In which top tier sports do men and women compete against each other directly? Why do people think F1 is any different? … because it is “just driving a car”? There is almost no relationship between successfully driving to work and competing in top tier motorsports yet I think this is the connection being made in peoples minds. For other sports it is more obvious why there is a split (rugby, football, basketball, hockey etc etc) …. but I expect the situation is the same for motorsports.

    The segregation in sport isn’t about sexism or misogyny. It’s about fairness. W series is the likely best answer.

  10. Wow @ben-n , an intelligent comment on racefans on this subject, thats a rare one. Based on the usual comments on this subject you would guess the average reader on racefans is a 70+ pipe smoking old man..

    The base issue is not easy to solve, as ben point out, and it all starts with us parents. Which need to give our kids the same chances and give them the same opportunities, regardless of gender. Giving the few woman that are there already some extra support is not such a bad idea if you do it correctly, just to start affecting the young ones, and give them somebody to look up to.

    To get the absolute best F1 class drivers there need to be a very big pool of very good drivers to chose from, and its a long long way to get there with female drivers.

    1. Thanks Maisch.

      As with all change, it takes time for people to accept it. Where we are now, you’d never believe that women were once not allowed to vote, or that black people were not allowed to ride the bus; but it really wasn’t that long ago in real terms.

      Every older generation thinks that the way things are/were when they were young is the right way (I’m sure I’ll be no different when I’m old)… it takes a new generation coming through and passing their views to children for real change to take course.

      It’s happening as we speak and equality is in a better place than ever before, we just need to keep talking about it and debating it and the right change will happen over time.

      Personally, if I have a daughter who wants to sit with me on a Sunday and watch the Formula One, I’ll be delighted. If she wants to try to race, I’ll be supportive. If she’s any good, then even better. The same for any future sons I may have!

  11. If a woman is ever good enough she’ll be fast tracked into F1 with tons of sponsorship offers.

    And lets hope more opportunities for women doesn’t mean less for men. Because that would be just as bad as none at all.

    Someone missing out because they have the skill but don’t tick a box is not good.

  12. Lorena Diaz Alonso
    Victoria Verstappen

    Both girls were presented with unique opportunities with Karts, had very dedicated fathers(essential) , I’m sure natural talents like their brothers. Yet neither are in F1.

  13. What’s stopping women from entering F1, lot pay drivers already race , I don’t see why a rich daddy can’t buy his daughter a seat in F1 just like stroll did for his junior.

  14. Are we going to have ‘Captain Marvel’ vs ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ row in motorsport too?

  15. I suppose women don’t care that they get opportunities because special accommodations are constantly made for them? Where does pride and self-respect come into this? I would be insulted. I’ve always wanted to make sure I was chosen because of my abilities and not because I was someone with particular physical characteristics. Having said that I would prefer to see women racing in F1 than in a separate series. How else will we know whether they are or not, as they claim, better than men. :) I wonder if they’ll put grid men in front of female drivers’ cars.

  16. They could start by bringing back the grid girls.

  17. The solution is very simple. Have teams run a 3rd car as long as the driver is a woman.

    1. Then we can run a 4th car for transgender persons, a 5th car to get better racial representation, a 6th car for…

    2. Why should they be given special treatment for being born a certain sex?

      Isn’t that *drum roll* the very definition of sexism…

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