Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of Formula One has claimed that female drivers “would not be taken seriously” if they were a part of the grid.
Ecclestone’s claim arose during an interview on Canadian network, TSN, where he was asked whether he thought that a female driver would ever return to the grid. He replied, “I doubt it. If there was somebody that was capable they wouldn’t be taken seriously anyway, so they would never have a car that is capable of competing. There was a girl that was driving in GP3 for a whole season so it is not something that hasn’t happened.”
Ecclestone’s comment comes after suggesting the creation of a women’s world championship to run alongside Formula One race weekends last year. In a bid to improve the sport, the Formula One boss suggested the idea as a way to improve the female presence. The second only woman and the most recent to start a Formula One race was the Italian, Lella Lombardi at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix.
Ecclestone’s statement comes just hours after the launch of former Williams’ test driver, Susie Wolff’s motorsport initiative, which aims to encourage more women into the profession.
Dare To Be Different will bring together women and girls, who will be able to experience karting, mentoring from high-profile motorsport females, and have a chance to get behind to camera. Five events have so far been planned, taking place around the UK from Surrey to Northern Ireland.
WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star winner in sports, Alice Powell is an ambassador for the Dare To Be Different. Powell started her race career at 22 and has since become the first ever female to win the Formula Renault BARC UK Championship, and the first and only woman to get in the points in the GP3 Series.
She told Press Association Sport that, “someone needs to prove Bernie wrong. It would be a shame if a team would turn down a female to race in F1 because they would not be taken seriously.”
“That is one of the issues though, that people don’t take the chance as they think it will be a joke. We’re not a joke and it is just another factor which makes it harder for females to race at the highest level.”
To find out more about Dare To Be Different, click here.