W Series testing, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

“Very unlikely” F1 will have a female driver within the next five years

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In the round-up: F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali shares his thoughts on improving the chances for women drivers in single-seaters.

In brief

Domenicali working on age equalisation between genders on ladder to F1

Stefano Domenicali, the chief executive officer of Formula 1, does not expect a female driver to arrive in F1 over the next five years. However he said the championship is working to increase the chances of it happening soon.

“We are trying to understand how we can, let’s say prepare the right parameters. Also for the girls to come into the pyramid at the right age with the right car,” he said. “Because this is really the key point.”

F1 is being supported at some races this year by W Series, which Jamie Chadwick is on course to win for the third season in a row. “We are very happy with the collaboration with W Series, but we believe that in order to be able to give the chance to girls to be at the same level of competition with the guys, they need to be at more or less the same age,” said Domenicali. “Then they can start to fight on the track at the level of Formula 3 and Formula 2.

“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.

“What I can say on the other hand, realistically speaking, I don’t see, unless something that will be like a sort of meteor coming into the earth, a girl in F1 in the next five years. That is very unlikely.”

Calderon replaces Bolukbasi in F2

Tatiana Calderon, Foyt, IndyCar, Sebring, 2022
Calderon had to cut her IndyCar season short
Formula 2 will have a female driver on the grid at Spa this weekend, as Charouz Racing System have replaced Cem Bolukbasi with Tatiana Calderon for the rest of the season.

Former Esports driver Bolukbasi joined Charouz this year after winning in Euroformula in 2021, but struggled to adapt to F2 and suffered a concussion early in the season. He was forced to miss four races and failed to score before his contract was “terminated by mutual consent” ahead of the Spa round.

Calderon, who raced in F2 in 2019 and also failed to score, arrives in the paddock after the funding for her part-time IndyCar drive with AJ Foyt Racing ended. She spent 2020 and 2021 racing in Super Formula, before moving to IndyCar for road and street course-based rookie campaign.

“I’m really excited about my return to the F2 championship, I still can’t believe I’m back,” Calderon said. “It’s been a long while since I drove the car, but it is an amazing opportunity which I want to make the most out of. I’m very thankful to the Charouz Racing System and I’m really looking forward to this busy triple-header of races and beyond.”

Magnussen gets new engineer for next three races

Haas has put a new engineer in charge of Kevin Magnussen‘s car for the next three grands prix as an internal change takes place at the team.

Ed Regan, Magnussen’s usual race engineer, has moved into an office-based role and will remain there until his planned departure from Haas later this year. In his place at the Belgian, Dutch and Italian grands prix will be Dominic Haines, who was previously race engineer to Romain Grosjean and then Nikita Mazepin at the team before also switching to an office-based position at Haas for 2022. It is the team’s plan that a new race engineer will come in for Magnussen by the Singapore Grand Prix, and Haines will return to a role that does include travelling with the race team.

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Comment of the day

Ricciardo’s early exit from McLaren has prompted much speculation over who will join Lando Norris at the team in 2023, and how they will fare against the rising British talent.

If this means Norris is matched with Piastri, that could be quite the match up. Then again, many thought the same when Ricciardo joined McLaren and that turned into a bit of a one-man show. And while we’ll probably never really know what’s wrong, it’s clear that Ricciardo is just not getting on top of his problems with the McLaren and there’s no reason to suspect that’ll change. McLaren probably concluded the same a while ago.

In the recent F1 Beyond the Grid podcast with Norris, he too mentioned it was tough to get the McLaren to work but that the team isn’t really looking to change the car based on that driver feedback but is only focused on making it faster. Given that their handling issues seems consistent between the ’21 and ’22 spec cars, perhaps this handling is just a by product of how McLaren finds their pace. It’s up to the drivers to make the most of that, and it’s pretty obvious who has done the better job.MichaelN

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Scalextric and Michael Williamson!

On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 2002 Dario Franchitto won the CART IndyCar round at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve ahead of championship leader Cristiano da Matta

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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34 comments on ““Very unlikely” F1 will have a female driver within the next five years”

  1. Delighted to see a female driver in F2. Shame it’s not a winning one. Maybe if Jamie Chadwick wins seven titles in a row she’ll be allowed to compete. Why don’t Stroll & Son take on a female driver instead of dinosaurs or standing-next-to-a-sportswashing-logo “engineers”?

    1. maybeshe will be allowed to compete

      Nothing is stopping her from already doing so. She’s got enough backing to buy a seat even without her prize money, but has previously stated she doesn’t want to be with a midfield or lower team.
      That on its own says enough already in all fairness: if you can only make an impression when driving for a top team, you don’t belong in the top of motorsport.

      In addition, the W Series fails to deliver anything other than Chadwick. It’s been their end-product for several seasons now, which does make one wonder whether it’s really giving more chances, or just giving 1 person several chances that she then refuses to take. Mind you: if Chadwick doesn’t move up or impresses in F3 or F2, what does that say about every driver she raced against and easily won from…

      1. “if you can only make an impression when driving for a top team, you don’t belong in the top of motorsport.”

        This is not something that you hear very often when a male driver makes the same sort of demand… They are seen as being driven and ambitious.

        1. This is not something that you hear very often when a male driver makes the same sort of demand… They are seen as being driven and ambitious.

          But you have to be realistic as well. Sure, the F3 winner should expect to have a pick of the top seats. But some F3 midfielder surely should not expect the same? So why should Jamie then expect to be offered a top seat?

          And no, winning the W Series for umpteen series in a row doesn’t add a lot. Her main opposition in that series have been Powell and Visser, and while they are not bad at all, they have been out of single seaters for a while and had to leave them because ultimately they did not have the talent to ultimately progress to F1. Looking at Jamie, the results she’s had in mixed competitive series have simply not been good enough to warrant something like a Prema seat in F3. She even had a Prema seat in FREC… that did not go well.

          I like Jamie and I wish nothing but the best for her, but seats should be offered based on merit, and a “regular” F3 seat would be absolutely OK for her. Let her beat her teammate first and then see where she goes from there.

          1. Agree, since typically female drivers are not good enough for f3, you get a chance to go there, even with a midfield team, take it and see if you can get a top team interested.

      2. @duuxdeluxe Do you know how much a F3 seat (let alone a F2 seat) costs these days?

  2. ….. a girl in F1 in the next five years. That is very unlikely.

    Yeah, well, how about calling them women?

  3. “Very unlikely” F1 will have a male driver within the next five years…

    Could happen.

    1. “What I can say on the other hand, realistically speaking, I don’t see, unless something that will be like a sort of meteor coming into the earth.” If we want to be really pedantic – the earth is hit by about 6,000 meteors a year, just none of them have landed in an F1 seat yet. @bullmello

      1. Maybe if they brought sponsorship money with them…🤑

        1. Yep, if one of them had billionaire father then I am sure they would get a seat…

          1. Only if they showed enough talent in the junior categories to become eligible for a super license.

  4. Circuit of the Americas boss Bobby Epstein says Logan Sargeant’s FP1 run for Williams at the United States Grand Prix is ‘pretty fantastic’ but believes an American race-winner is needed to take Formula 1 to the next level in the States.’

    This only shows what a parochial country America is, other countries have embraced a wide variety of sports without prejudice. But the US shows no real interest until an American is winning or it’s been Americanised to the point it’s no longer recognisable, ‘American’ Football is a good example.

    1. @johnrkh obviously not everyone, but definitely a clear majority, yes. You only have to take a look at the Olympics… I’ve worked for NBC at the last 4 and it’s an entirely different world. They’re obsessed with “people” over sport. I got some of the NBC guys to watch the BBC coverage and they were blown away by how insightful it was, and how the commentary actually commentated on the live action! Not uncommon for them to have a camera focusing on a lead American in 4th or 5th place in a race, only to largely miss the medal winners cross the finish line!

      1. Interesting insight @eurobrun, thanks. Not great from a societal viewpoint though, nor great for what it says for the future of F1 perhaps, but then again, that probably makes it all the more relevant.

      2. @eurobrun

        BBC prioritizes studio-based discussion on British athletes – the recent Commonwealth Games and European Championships especially. This occurs even while the event they’re discussing is in progress!

        1. No it does not. The BBC rarely goes to the studio while an event is in progress… The only times that really happens is when they are briefly going to a sport that is on one of the iplayer feeds and they are getting an update. On iplayer that sport is fully covered live. And it is hardly surprising that the BBC focus on British athletes. The point is that the coverage does show other nations winning and not only that but even in the studio they sometimes get athletes or pundits from other nations…

        2. I do see it in the studio element (which i don’t care for, and rarely watch, especiallywhen there is other action to see), but I’m talking about the actual events themselves. They always respect a final too, even if there are no British participants.
          You should compare the Skateboarding from Tokyo between NBC and BBC. Even when the American was pulling off sone insane tricks, they were talking about where they grew up, like anyone cares in the heat of the moment!

    2. To be fair communication was not what it is today so people verbally explained rules of games and often things got lost along the way. Netball for instance was an accidental misinterpretation of basketball rules.

    3. Riiigght. That’s why F1 skyrocketed in popularity in Germany when Schumacher was winning, and the same happened in Spain when Alonso was winning.

      As an American, my problem with F1 in America is that Europe is rather snobbish, and hates it when Americans succeed at anything. Europe’s contempt for American football is just another example.

      1. @grat American football is terrible, it’s a horribly distorted form of Rugby where advertising and promotion of cars soft drinks junk food, and anything else that can be sold is prioritised over the game is that where F1 is going?

  5. Also for the girls to come into the pyramid at the right age with the right car

    Start by not condescending female drivers as girls, when your own age rules determine a driver must be 18, therefore an adult.

    1. To be fair, he is talking about girls getting into carts, in to F4 and F3 at a younger age there @eurobrun

      1. @bascb fair point. Just re-read it now

  6. The all female team almost won the GTAM class at the last WEC race. They led for most the race and would have likely won except for a safety car which left them second. I think the commentators said that would have been the first time a woman won a FIA world championship race

    1. If they said that, they would be completely wrong. Susanna Raganelli won the 1966 World Karting Championship.

      1. While not technically a “Race” Michelle Mouton also won several WRC Rallies in her time, as well as her class at Le Mans

  7. People who know far more about it than me have brought up that female drivers are disadvantaged more or less as soon as they leave karting. The lack of power steering in F3 and F2 is an obvious one, and Jamie Chadwick brought up things like cockpit design and dimensions in lower formulae, steering wheels designed for larger hands, stuff like that.

    I’d have thought the easiest step to providing a level field would be to stop worrying so much about W Series and make a few little changes to the cars in the main ladder.

    1. The physicality of a lot of racing is a filter, some by equipment, some purely by the nature of high grip and G’s. But power steering will never be forced on karts, and high performance karts are up there in athleticism (try even a KF2 or TaG for 30 minutes). And that is filter #1. (although, having said that, it is possible to have very light steering without power steering by having very low mechanical trail — low caster — and maybe design karts for that, but the G’s still pile on athleticism, even with low arm effort).

      But it is a “threshold” athleticism sport, not a “measure athleticism” sport. You have to be up to a certain level to be in the game, but beyond that the returns diminish wrt results. So women /are/ on the table to compete at any level, just with a tougher filter on their pool. A female pool that is smaller than male based on interest as well. Low level karting, sim racing, etc, is already male dominated, and that is largely based on interest, as there are little physical limitations.

      But unlike, say, tennis, the top level is still achievable. But given the filters, and what percentage of the race driver pool throughout the world can get an F1 seat, “unlikely” is true.

      1. Based purely on numbers, with an F1 field of 20 seats, the women pool needs to be up to 5% of the male pool to have a female likely in the field on merit.

        From my anecdotal experience in both real life racing and sim racing, I do not think it is much above 1% right now.

  8. First Merhi made a temporary F2 return, now Calderon.
    Unsurprising, given her IndyCar campaign ended prematurely.

    Haines was his race engineer in the early season, though, as his voice appeared in K-Mag’s radio comms at the time.

    I still wish the last corner exit would’ve also received gravel rather than only tarmac repainting.

    I share COTD’s views.

  9. “Unlikely to see a female F1 driver in the next five years” being the headline on the same day as “Female driver announced for F1’s main feeder series” says a lot about the state of the junior ladder at the moment.

    1. @red-andy I don’t really think it does though. It’s not like the whole junior pyramid was devoid of pay drivers before.

Comments are closed.