FIA reaffirms “commitment” to women competing in F1 after Domenicali comment

2022 F1 season

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has reaffirmed the governing body will “actively encourage” more women competitors in formula racing following comments by Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

Earlier this week, Domenicali discussed Formula 1’s collaboration with W Series and expressed his view on how the junior series structure could help to naturally promote more women drivers reaching the highest level of Formula 1.

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

“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.”

However, Domenicali received criticism after suggesting there would not be a woman likely to reach F1 over the next five years “unless something that will be like a sort of meteor coming into the Earth”. Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel described Domenicali’s comment as a “very unlucky choice of words” as they may discourage young drivers from pursuing their dreams of racing in Formula 1.

Ahead of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, Ben Sulayem released a statement reaffirming that the FIA was “committed” to increasing the opportunities for women racing in single-seater formula racing.

“Since its foundation, the FIA has always supported and nurtured women in motorsport,” Ben Sulayem said.

“Motorsport is unique as, under FIA regulations, women and men can compete on equal terms. We will continue to actively encourage the participation of women whether that be through our FIA Girls On Track Rising Stars programme, the presence of women in our race control, operations and technical teams and other departments throughout the organisation or in partnership with our ASNs with female volunteers and officials.”

“The FIA and FOM are committed to greater opportunity for women in the sport. Stefano Domenicali and I are working together to improve access and the pyramid for women’s entry and progression. Throughout history, women have made their mark in motorsport, on and off track, and it is our desire, under my leadership, that the trend will continue for years to come.”

Ben Sulayem assumed the FIA presidency in December after being elected by its member associations following the end of predecessor Jean Todt’s final term. Ben Sulayem will serve a four-year term in his position and will face election in 2025 unless he is unopposed.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “FIA reaffirms “commitment” to women competing in F1 after Domenicali comment”

  1. Women can’t even drive cars in some Arab countries

  2. It’s silly to pretend that Stefano Domenicali’s words were anything but a straight assessment of the current situation, and the talent available in the ladder that has the chance to make it to F1 in the next five years.

    Barring a Kimi- or Max-like situation, every Formula 1 driver for the next 5 years, regardless of sex, is currently competing at F4 levels or higher. And not one of the promising ones is a woman.

    1. And I kind of worry if female drivers reaching F1 is relying on FIA initiatives.
      For all the talk, F1 dodge a major bullet with Hamilton, because he is the only non-white driver to win a race. Barring some accomodations to call (former and present) Mexicans non-white, all F1 winner were 2nd/3rd generation descendant of someone born in a 500miles radius from PAris. BRA, ZA, AUS, NZ winners were essential European emmigres. Albon is the only non white driver in the grid today.
      For all the money spent, Japanese drivers only got podiums in odd situations.
      Indian drivers were no more than two.
      Worse yet, the last US driver were Speed, Rossi and, decades ago, Michael Andretti.
      Even in the realm of Chinese drivers, Zhou Guanyu might have arrived on F1 by himself – even though FIA would love for more Japanese, Chinese, American drivers.
      My point is: FIA just cant or doesnt know what to do to bring the desired diversity within male drivers range, so there very little hope that FIA initiatives will bring female drivers to F1 in this decade or the next.

  3. Will they also seek more women as marshalls during F1 events? Huh?
    Oh, wait, women don’t want to do those hard, low- or none- paying jobs…

    1. There are female marshals; one of the recent races even had an all-female marshal post (I think it was Azerbaijan?). Sure there aren’t as many, but not for the reasons mentioned. There also aren’t many men doing volunteer work in female-dominated sports or events either. Nothing wrong with that. On average, men and women just have different interests. So long as participating in whatever sport or event is an option for those who want to, that’s all good. Nobody is trying to force through a 50/50 split.

      1. Nobody is trying to force through a 50/50 split.

        Sadly, that is what some people seem to be arguing for.

        And in some other industries, that’s exactly what they’ve got (and more) and it’s all gone downhill from there.

  4. “We reaffirm that we want to be seen to be doing something…”

  5. Maybe it is because they dont know what to do to get that.
    For ages they want to get a race winning US-born male driver.
    Even if we accept that female drivers cant reach F1 because of the patriarchy and the toxic environment, to get a male USborn driver FIA/F1 teams only need to find a fast guy and agree on a suitable contract. And yet last driver winning under a USA flag was Andretti – the Mario – in 1978 (For US born drivers go back to the 1960s).

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