Including women in motorsports
With huge viewing stats across the world, it isn’t surprising that sport is a dominant part of society. Players of international sports teams can earn whopping wages. For example, Lionel Messi takes home a wage of £63 million every season, while the golf World Tour Champion can win $3 million for less than a year’s work.
Yet despite the popularity of sports across the world, it is very much dominated by men. While there are female teams available, the publicity and earning potential is nowhere near the same level in many cases. Although viewing figures are rising, there’s still a long way to go to match the male equivalent. In the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015held in Canada, viewing figures surged, with 2.4million tuning in to see England lose to France. However, compare this to the 26.5 million viewers for England’s male team losing in the 2018 World Cup semi-final to Croatia.
Until last December at Alexandra Palace, the darts World Championship was a men-only contest, showing that international sports are becoming more inclusive of women. Motorsports have also been a very male-dominated world, especially in Formula 1 and 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, that prominence could be starting to even out. Here, alongside Lookers Audi, which has a variety of the new Audi Q2 vehicles available, we look at how women are starting to take up bigger roles in motorsports.
Female test drivers
Since the start of F1 in 1950, while there have only ever been five female drivers to compete, there have been many test drivers. Williams signed Susie Wolff as a test driver for their vehicles in 2012, for instance, showing a willingness to get females involved in the predominantly male environment. She became the first female driver in 22 years to participate in a race weekend, when she took part in the first practice session at Silverstone. Williams later appointed Colombia’s Tatiana Calderónas a development driver for 2017, who went on to be promoted to test driver.
To encourage women to participate in motorsports, Wolff has set up a programme which helps promote female drivers at grassroots level. Williams later appointed Colombia’s Tatiana Calderónas a development driver for 2017, who went on to be promoted to test driver.
W Series Championship
Starting this year was the W series, an all-female racing championship. It’s been backed by some of Formula 1’s biggest names, including former champion David Coulthard and Red Bull’s chief engineer Adrian Newey.
Newey, the F1 engineer, believes that women should be treated equally in sport. He said: “I believe the reason why so few women have so far raced successfully at the highest levels against men is a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of capability.”
Promoting equal opportunities among the sexes, the W series gives women the ability to compete on an international scale in F1. The six-race championship pits up to 20 of the world’s top female racing drivers against each other in identical cars. President of the Women in Motorsport Commission for governing body the FIA, Michèle Mouton, also backs the series, believing that it will allow a platform to be created to help propel women into the male-dominated competitions.
Formula 3 Championships
Unfortunately, Formula 3 is also an area still dominated by men. However, in August 2018, Jamie Chadwick became the first woman to win a British F3 race. It sees her added to a prestigious list of winners, which also includes Mika Häkkinenand Ayrton Senna. However, while Chadwick admits that she has sometimes struggled with the G-force and weight of steering, she says that this can’t be used as an excuse for females not to perform well in the sport.
She pointed out: “I just want to prove it’s possible. I know when I drive my best, there is nothing stopping me from being one of the best and there is no reason why there wouldn’t be the same case for girls coming through in karting to get the same opportunity in F3.”
Women are becoming increasingly involved in pit teams across motorsport. In NASCAR, two female tyre changers made history in February by becoming the first female pit crew members in the Daytona 500 as part of the Drive for Diversity project. This follows the McLaren team in F1 organising an all-female pit stop in July 2017’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Rolex 24 at Daytona
24 Hours of Daytona included an all-female team in 2018 presented by Audi. They debuted their R8 LMS GT4 with Ashley Freiberg and Gosia Rdest teaming up behind the wheel. The decision to have female drivers wasn’t a new concept for the team either, as Michèle Mouton raced in the 1980s, while Rahel Frey was part of Audi Sport Team in 2017 as they finished third at the Nürburgring.
Although there is definitely room for improvement to help motorsports have a better standard of equality, there are growing opportunities for women in motorsport.