Race start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Pollock confirms he is planning a return to F1 with new ‘equal-gender’ team

2023 F1 season

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Former British American Racing Formula 1 team principal Craig Pollock has confirmed he plans to return to the sport with a new team in 2026.

Earlier this year the FIA opened applications for new teams to enter F1 in 2025, 2026 or 2027. Pollock plans to submit an application for his new project, named Formula Equal.

He intends the team to include an even split between genders at all levels. “The concept and the idea was to try and build a F1 team, 50% male, 50% female, which is extremely hard to do if you have an existing F1 team,” he told CNN. “It’s a lot easier with a clean sheet of paper.”

The FIA previously indicated it will confirm at the end of next month which if any prospective new F1 teams have been selected. Among the criteria they will be judged on is “considerations of sustainability, EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion), and societal benefit”.

The backing for Pollock’s project is rumoured to come from Saudi Arabia, which joined the F1 calendar in 2021 with a race in Jeddah. The country is keen to increase its involvement in motorsport and has also hosted Formula E and the Dakar cross-country rally in recent years.

Pollock with Villeneuve in 2003
The president of the country’s motorsport federation, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, said in January he is keen to attract teams to the country. Pollock said he is planning the “first F1 team that is truly outside of Europe”.

“This has to be built from the bottom up in a Gulf state and this is what we are aiming to do,” he said. “This is a long-term project – this is not short-term.”

Regarding the source of his funding, Pollock said his company is “in intense discussions” with “a Gulf area country”.

Pollock previously managed 1997 F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve. He formed the BAR team, backed by British American Tobacco, which entered the world championship in 1999 with Villeneuve as one of its two drivers. Pollock was replaced at the head of the team at the end of their third season of competition.

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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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79 comments on “Pollock confirms he is planning a return to F1 with new ‘equal-gender’ team”

  1. Ah, I too think of Gulf states, and especially Saudi-Arabia, when I think of equality and diversity.

    I guess this is what the FIA and FOM are holding out for when they deny Andretti access to the F1 grid.

      1. Yup, this is pure gaslighting, a shell game.
        Saudi should be spurned on character grounds & no amount of distraction should give them traction.

    1. S

  2. I’m on board with a project like this. Just as an experiment, if nothing else, it’ll be interesting to see if they can get a truly balanced split of genders in such male-dominated areas as motorsport and engineering.

    That said, I’m very dubious when I hear it is being backed from within Saudi. I can’t see such a project going down well with a government with such regressive policies towards females. It’s even entered my head that this may be in the hope that the experiment fails, to be used as evidence that their policies and opinions are correct, though I think that’s rather far fetched.

    1. I’m on board with a project like this. Just as an experiment, if nothing else, it’ll be interesting to see if they can get a truly balanced split of genders in such male-dominated areas as motorsport and engineering.


      Anyone know the figures for female engineers going through the Lewis Hamilton fostered project? I will bet that it falls short of 50% female, and that’s in a non-gender non-race biased system.
      You simply can’t build the top of the pile before the foundations and it will take a few years before the training initiatives produce an output of usable engineers. Not soon enough for this project, especially if the other teams are recruiting from the same pool.

    2. @drmouse I am not sure what CNN says. My vague earlier post under proposing came from a different source.

      This project is apparently already 4years into the making.
      The 50/50 split is from boardroom, engineering and drivers. The whole shebang.

      Indeed the project’s aim is also to deliver and build pathways for women to reach the very top in motorsport.

      So MAYBE quietly quietly behind the scenes action may bring about gradual social change.

      1. porpoising* and before this article was posted

  3. Team Harrison Bergeron?

    1. To the future…

  4. I expect this to go about as well as PURE Power and BAR Honda. This seems to be a play to get attention more than anything else. Building a team from scratch outside of UK’s Motorsports Valley seems like a long-shot. Consider how Toyota’s F1 team fared…

    1. If they do as well as BAR Honda it would be a strong showing then – second in the WCC in 2004 to the mighty Ferraris of the time I believe, and points scoring in all but a first and quite tricky season.

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        29th March 2023, 6:09

        All achieved after David Richards had taken over two years earlier.

      2. @ahxshades veeeery different situation. Firstly, all of BAR sucesses, as @jackisthestig says came after David Richards had taken over managment, and they were a works team. Secondly, BAR actually had some credentials in Reynard, and it could’ve gone even better had they not fired almost everyone from the Tyrrell days.

        1. So a poor example by the Original Post then – no problem :)

    2. The vast amount of money involved will solve a lot. They will do an Emirates Airlines on the rest of the field. Surely the budget cap can be somewhat.. well creatively explored. After all the powers that be want this so badly. And it is covered in a social theme sauce. Who could possibly be against it?

      1. They can spend all they want right now – billions if they wish – the cap only applies once they’re accepted. If there’s enough money behind the project, and the right names are attached, the FIA and F1 will open the door.

      2. Spending half a billion dollars in two years didn’t help BAR Honda twenty-odd years ago. It only helps if you know how to spend the extra money.

  5. This is such garbage! When we look at F1, it’s all about the racing. Join only if you can put a fast car on the track. Everything else is humbug!

  6. good luck to Formula Equal, they will really need it. By pigeon-holing themselves with their 50/50 gender split, they are focusing more on “equality” instead of building a successful team. would you rather hire the best people possible or hire to fill a quota?

    1. That depends on your goals.

      If your goal is to produce the absolute best possible team with no restrictions, you’ll go for the best possible for any job regardless of any other factor (or at least you’ll attempt to do so).

      If your goal is to produce the best team you can within serious budget restraints, you may sacrifice some of the better people you could get involved in favour of cheaper, or in favour of those who can bring in money somehow.

      If your goal is to give your son a seat in F1 which he would never be able to earn on his own talents…. *cough* moving on…

      If your aim is to prove that there are a lot of good female engineers and/or drivers out there which are being under-utilised due to gender biases inherent within the sport, then building a team with a 50/50 split which, at the very least, comes close to the other teams in F1 would still be a success. As it would be if your aim was to demonstrate to women out there that there is a career path for them all the way to the top of F1.

      Now, on the darker side, if you were part of a regressive government who wanted to prove that their policies of female oppression were right…

      1. @drmouse That puts a horrifying new spin on why this particular leader got the nod. I hope your last paragraph is not the true motive and that Saudi Arabia “merely” wanted sportswashing (let alone the more moral motives of wanting more tourism and global “soft power”)…

  7. Gender ratios. As if F1 wasn’t difficult enough. We will never see this team on the grid, let alone in the top 10.

    1. It gets more complicated if gender is considered to have more than two identities.

      1. I’m all for ratios so long as we’re talking transaxles.

  8. Quality Vs Equality is never going to work.

    How ridiculous.

    1. Given the information we have so far, there’s no tension between them: Craig Pollock’s history as a F1 team leader is remarkably poor. Regardless of the finer details (and determining driver categories is a “finer detail” at this stage of proceedings), Saudi Arabia’s business savvy has to be questioned here – there’s a distinct risk that any team that results from this will embarrass them.

  9. If somebody is interested in starting an F1 team outside of Europe, that’s great. The more participants the better, and the more spread out they are, and more varied the stakeholders and interests, the less chance of the current Concorde cartel keeping a stranglehold on the series.

    But whatever the merits of his scheme, Craig Pollock will be 70 years old in 2026. Even if he was in his early 40s as he was when BAR started, it’s going to take a monumental effort to get a completely new team off the ground. That certain somebody is probably using Pollock as a figurehead, which is fine, but it’s going to take more – a lot more – to turn this into anything serious.

    And on a not so serious note, because this is obviously just a headline-grabber, a straight up 50:50 gender split is going to be very unfair on men, who after all make up more than 50% of the world population.

    1. The percentage differential dropped considerably when F1 fired all the grid girls, many would be models lost a lot of mainstream exposure. If people believe this was exploitation, what’s their take on the fashion industry and the cat walks with girls paraded many semi naked just to show clothes.

      1. Obviously F1 correctly would prefer to see women participating in the sport as competitors rather than objectifying them for their appearance.

        If other industries have their priorities wrong that’s their problem, it has no bearing on F1. I say ‘if’ as I don’t know enough about fashion and modelling to comment.

      2. A lot of people are distinctly unimpressed by the fashion industry as well. It just mostly flies under the radar these days due to the loss of mainstream acceptability of the way that part of the fashion industry chooses to present itself.

  10. Mark in Florida
    28th March 2023, 18:07

    They’ll get a spot on the merit that they’re ticking all the right boxes. If the FIA turns them down it’ll look bad in the press to be rejecting this blatant pandering, I mean initiative.

  11. That American woke nonsense has spread into the paddock since Liberty took over though F1 is rapidly becoming the wokest sport in the world even more than NBA, NFL…

    I personally don’t share this enthusiasm about diversity. I believe it’s crap because it leads to discriminating against some exceptionally talented people for no good reason. On the other hand, it elevates losers to positions they don’t deserve which will only undermine the organization. Hiring people solely for their abilities is the greatest expression of diversity that any company could achieve.

    1. You do realise “discriminating against some exceptionally talented people for no good reason” is what has been happening to women and minority groups throughout our history? Increasing diversity simply widens the net for talent. There’s nothing to be afraid of. No one is intending to hire unqualified staff in the name of diversity. They might just appoint a competent person who looks a bit different to Adrian Newey for example.

      1. two names… Philip Washington and Deb Haaland. unqualified individuals for government positions. both were chosen because of “diversity”. thankfully Washington was not hired as the FAA chief (failed to answer simple aviation questions during his hearing). Haaland unfortunately was hired because she “ticked all the boxes” and is clueless during her latest congressional hearing…

        Now tell me again how no one is hiring (or trying to hire) unqualified staff in the name of diversity? if it happens in government, it will happen in a woke F1 team..

      2. Except that that is exactly what it means. In raw terms, in F1 sort of things, “unqualified” is anyone except that absolute best you can find and afford. Better is better. There is no “good enough” line. So any extra criteria, such as having enough left handed people diversity, will compromise that. So this is exactly intending to hire unqualified staff in the name of diversity.

        Having said that, how about we then focus on, say, women’s freedom in Iran, where they are begging for it, and have no mechanism to attain it? Instead of, say, continuing to recognize their regime at all.

      3. Where is your proof that they have been discriminating against women and minority groups throughout our history?

        Because absence of these people is not itself proof that they were in fact discriminated against. Yet here you are singing the praises of initiatives that discriminate with impunity because you deem the people on the receiving end to be deserving of being treated less than equal to others.

        And of course, you won’t be accepting of the idea that they weren’t selected because they weren’t the best candidate at the time. Nor does gender equity mean they are the best candidate either, it just means standards have to be dropped in order to manufacture a pre-determined outcome. An outcome that required candidates to be treated as anything but equals.

      4. @tommy-c
        So your idea to fight discrimination is actually more discrimination. It doesn’t seem sustainable nor reasonable. The issue with diversity and people campaigning for more representation of women and minority groups is that they are only triggered when it’s about positions of power with more money, visibility…, i.e, the c-suite.

        In the states for example and according to US department of labours, there are many dangerous, laborious, difficult, dusty jobs that are mainly dominated by men at 99.99% like bricklayers, crane operators, electrical cables operators… Should we have quotas for women ? Not to mention that there are also many jobs that are dominated by women like : HR officers, marketing managers, nurses… Should we have quotas for men ?

        No one is intending to hire unqualified staff in the name of diversity

        You seem to be disconnected from reality because this is what is currently happening in the world n°1 superpower, the United States. As mentioned by lucky, I watched senator Ted Cruz grilling the FAA nominee who was proposed as part of a diversity quotas. I couldn’t believe that the man who will be responsible for the aviation safety standards doesn’t have any understanding about how an airplane functions. This example came to my mind because it happened last week IIRC. There are countless examples btw.

        They might just appoint a competent person who looks a bit different to Adrian Newey for example

        F1 is a British dominated sport. 70% of the teams and personnel are based in the UK so it’s OK to have the Brits more represented at all levels in the sport. I don’t know what’s the problem of Newey being a white guy, this is racism. I don’t care how competent people will look like, for me it’s enough that they are competent.

      5. I am genuinely surprised by all of these replies in 2023. I thought workplace discrimination against women was a well established and understood concept. It wasn’t that long ago that you’d simply be fired for getting married or, heaven forbid
        having children. Sadly, I’m sure that still happens in some places. I agree that a 50-50 gender target is ambitious in what is a very male dominated sport but I can’t understand the resistance for finding a better balance. All you’re doing is widening the net for talent.

        Women’s rights in Iran is of course also a very important issue. They’re not mutuality exclusive concepts.

        1. greasemonkey
          29th March 2023, 0:50

          With respect to media coverage, hence awareness, hence action by democracies, there is actually some mutual exclusivity.

          Like this thread. This thread, and thousands like it dwarf the real issues killing women, and killing people supporting the movement to their freedom, every day. Seriously.

      6. @tommy-c

        You do realise “discriminating against some exceptionally talented people for no good reason” is what has been happening to women and minority groups throughout our history?

        In general, women have always worked, and often even longer hours than men (because of the different types of work they tend to do). The mid to late 20th-century period where many more women could afford not to work did indeed also lead to many being unwillingly sidelined, and it’s totally correct to change this. But it’s still important to note that this is also an issue of class (raise the red banners!). Modern talk of workplace diversity is often (not always!) an issue that mostly impacts college or university educated and upper middle class women (of any ethnicity), as everyone else already worked because they had to, and generally not in particularly spectacular jobs.

        The problem for F1 teams in particular is that they’re hiring people who might be about 30 years old. At that point, there have already been a ton of ‘filters’ that greatly limit who they can and can’t hire. If they really want to help everyone do well, they’d all nicely pay their taxes and tell their drivers not to rush off to Monaco the second they sign their first F1 contract. Investing in education and paid (!) internships is where you make real progress.

        1. A lot of working-class women also experience discrimination in the workplace environment, some due to having more difficulty getting work due to their gender, some from being locked out of certain types of work due to their gender, and many more by being paid less for the same work due to their gender.

    2. A bit like how Ferrari constantly hiring Italians in senior positions leads to their constant failure, even in spite of being given millions a year just to take part…

      1. The same is true for 8 of the 9 English teams. There’s usually just one that does manage to do somewhat well.

    3. @tifoso1989 So you think discriminating against people who might be more talented than the people who currently get opportunities is OK? (Because that’s what’s happening at the moment, albeit having someone with such a poor track record running a F1 team that has no ladder back to the place where women are hitting the glass ceiling is likely to result in more discrimination against women in mixed series rather than less, and the advancement of the artificial barricading of women into a split-gender series just to try to earn more revenue for very rich shareholders).

      1. @alianora-la-canta
        Absolutely not ! I have already expressed myself with regard of discrimination. I’m though against diversity quotas because I simply believe it’s another form of discrimination. Getting young girls interested in motorsport is a key for women to have more chances getting into the top motorsport categories.

        1. @alianora-la-canta Lots of women are interested in motorsport and there’s a rather obvious glass ceiling that, were it not obvious enough before, was thrown into stark relief by W Series. “Getting young girls interested” is patently not the obstacle in this context.

  12. Zan. Zendegi. Azadi.

    The world has actual real oppression going on. How about the media gives that a bit more attention, even though any real solution is not going to be easy, and will hurt (economies in general, including owners of media companies, etc). Sort of ironic that Media has little to do with Liberty anymore.

    There is too virtue signaling, and not enough real discussion of the real big picture.

  13. Everyone gets a bone saw!

  14. Well it sounded great until Saudi backing was mentioned. Now I’m cynical and it sounds like a grand exercise in sportswashing…

  15. So why not ? But it does look cynical, certainly with Saudi Arabia behind it.
    Buying respectability from a suspiciously keen Formula 1 is quite disappointing when we think about it.
    And that does not include the pilots I suppose as we’re still a long way off that happening unfortunately.

    I’d rather even have a full female team, drivers included, and backed for the good reasons than this actually.
    I’d be happy to be wrong though, and certainly hope the best for the females and people involved who will still get incredible opportunities if that happens, all this fuss aside.

  16. There are more genders then what you could possibly staff and F1 team with and still be under budget.

    1. Hahhahhah

  17. Their hope seems to be that some entries are more equal than others.
    Mercedes-Benz would be an ideal equal-gender engine brand.

  18. I hope it turns out as well as it sounds!

  19. Insane that people will associate themselves with Saudi Arabia willingly

  20. If you’re qualified for the job then great, hire the applicant.

  21. 65% of psychologists in the U.S. are women; should we enforce hiring quotas for men?

    1. Absolutely! It’s an outrage!

    2. @stever Some places have a hiring quota of 100% for men, if there’s a legitimate reason why women cannot be hired for the role.

  22. Craig Pollock doesn’t even understand the meaning of the words he uses. Equality means equal opportunity in political speak. What he is aiming for is a 50/50 split irrespective of important factors such as being the most talented for the job. That not equality, it’s a dreadful concept known as equity, where the end result is achieved by putting a finger on the scales to achieve what is a false balance. As a result this project will fail in an intensely competitive world where only the truly committed win.

    Also known as identity politics, the scourge of the ‘civilised’ world. Who says the male/female split is the most egregious iniquity in F1? Every minority will clamour for their place on the roster.

    Pollock needs to step back a few rungs in the ladder of success and make sure every child has the same access to education, that’s the key to going somewhere in this world on merit. Even then ‘equity’ in any walk of life is doomed to failure. This for the simple reason that men and women, taken as an average of the entire population, have different goals in life that are determined by their biology.

    1. @frasier False. Equity is giving the same opportunity to people. Equality is giving the same resources to people.

      What Craig has described is provision of resources, which is an equality angle rather than an equity angle (an actual equity angle would require more evidence of awareness on his part of what the actual obstacles are to people having the same opportunities regardless of gender).

      1. @alianora-la-canta I disagree. Equity is a examination of how well people have done as a group in adult society, then applying a correction at some stage in their development that assumes as a group they have been discriminated against. For example this case involving the BBC


        Of course true equality of opportunity starts from the moment a person is born and is difficult to achieve. This is because education standards vary for whole variety of reasons that society does gradually chip away at. The fact remains however that in a free market those who recruit the best people are likely to achieve the best results.

        1. @frasier That’s… …not how equity is defined in the dictionary. The notion that a free market is likely to achieve either equality or equity (either the dictionary defintions or the ones you’re using) without a lot of assistance is, at this point, laughable.

          1. @alianora-la-canta by ‘best results’ I mean the highest finishes in F1 or indeed any other technical arena, the free market method.

            The reference you quote describes equity as a more complex concept. In regards to my example, this section describes an interpretation of ensuring equity

            For example, the American idea of affirmative action that aims to achieve equity in employment and education by discouraging biased or bigoted hiring practices and promoting equal opportunity has been repeatedly criticized and challenged in court for attempting to achieve equity using supposedly unfair or unjust methods.

            The BBC must have seen that their staff profile was lacking in Asians and Blacks, so they tried to achieve a balance by excluding people who didn’t fit this description, which I don’t believe is legal under UK law. Putting it in the American way, unfair or unjust methods…

          2. @frasier You do know that F1 results have never been decided under the free market method?

  23. How about you do these experiments at grass root levels first before you do this at the biggest stage. This move seems to be more about good PR for Saudi than anything else. Get the woke crowd behind them while they can conveniently ignore the human rights violations in that country.

    1. @illusive Extreme E’s already done the experiment successfully. (As in, the split-gender driving concept worked very well and the series’ problems are in areas completely unaffected by it).

  24. Clever chap, using society’s as well as Saudi’s momentum to access unlimited funds. He would totally do an Emirates on the F1 world if it wasn’t for the budget cap.

  25. Will we have cars which have sponsors aimed at women on one side, and men on the other?

    1. Asking the real questions xD

    2. No, not after the 1999 BAR livery debacle. Especially not given the same man is attempting to lead both.

  26. I am a prevention violence minister and I know who causes violence in the world, it is white cis men. That is white cis men who cause violence in the world.”

    Cis refers to someone who is the same gender now as what was assigned to that person when they were born.
    NZ government minister.
    RF won’t accept link

    1. But fear not gentle reader my Oz government has just sent an ambassador for gender diversity to USA.

  27. Quotas, l like that (meritocracy is so not cool). If someone changes his/hers gender, does it means that you have to hire someone to counter that, or fire that one, or how do you deal with it? And what about all the new genders? Also, considering the importance of gender as the most important prerequisite for someone to get a job, will you hmmm, check their goodies, or do you trust their word, or how do we do this? Also, what about fans, will they also need to be 50-50? I thought F1 was about racing, but it’s all about politics (although I find this offensive to women, they don’t need quotas, just equal opportunities, not equal numbers, which sends a message that they are otherwise incapable of earning their place). But why not, if you can promote regimes in Middle East, why not a bit of this strange wokeism or whatever it is.

  28. I suppose they could flip this around. “You have been assigned to ‘Identifies as XYZB tire changer. Here is your pronoun and dress code.”

  29. Setting up for failure.

  30. I would not trust Craig Pollock to start a F1 team (of any description) given what happened with BAR, sadly.

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