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Why this is the right moment for women drivers in F1
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Why this is the right moment for women drivers in F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Feb 2011   |  8:51 am GMT  |  254 comments

I saw a story on the Italian website 422.com about the Ferrari Driver Academy actively looking to recruit a female trainee, to work alongside Jules Bianchi and the others.

“According to our sources, the head of the programme, engineer Luca Baldisserri, wants to put a woman in FDA before 2012,” said the 422.com story.


I asked Ferrari if the story was true and they replied that they don’t discriminate on gender, which is all very PC.

But it got me thinking, when at the Williams event on Thursday the chat over lunch with Sam Michael turned to the multi-tasking now required of the F1 drivers. They can easily find themselves in testing doing an oil transfer, at the same time as adjusting the brake bias, hitting the KERS boost button and opening the adjustable rear wing (ARW). When one leading driver was radioed by his team while on the straight in Barcelona, asking him to perform another task on the steering wheel, he replied, “I’ve only got one pair of hands!”

As we all know, women are far better at multi tasking than men – so clearly this is a golden moment for women to make the leap into F1.

It does seem as through there are plenty of pitfalls for drivers combining the KERS and ARW when exiting a corner. Do it too soon and the car spins. With so many things to remember – some of which like the ARW have different rules for race and qualifying – there are bound to be some mix ups. Apparently the most common mistake is drivers failing to use the ARW to the maximum on a qualifying lap either by missing the button, or forgetting to use it or using it too late. There is lap time in these mistakes and it will put more pressure on the weaker drivers (and the poor multi taskers) in qualifying.

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254 Comments
  1. gond says:

    That is why im so disappointed with the new regulations this year. It is going to be more a competition on playstation, pressing buttons in the right sequence to make a “combo” move than real racing…

    1. James Allen says:

      By the way, if you want a perspective on what it’s like being married to someone who works in F1 read http://f1wag.blogspot.com

  2. Chris Cantrell says:

    James I am 100% for women being in all forms of motor racing and hope that it will not be long before one is given the opportunity in F1. However apocryphal old wives tales about multi tasking are disappointing from you.

    Always read your posts with interest though and enjoy your viewpoint on F1. Thanks for your continuing quality information.

    1. Seconded. There is no fact this. Multi tasking is equally difficult for both sexes

    2. Juan says:

      I have to say I agree with Chris!

    3. wayne says:

      I was assuming that it was meant to be tongue in cheek? Surely he didn’t mean it?

    4. Liam says:

      I’m pretty sure there is truth in this. I have no case studies to point you to but I’m certain I’ve seen a documentary or two that have stated this as fact. Men apparently can focus on one task alone better than women and women can focus on many tasks at once better than men. There has also been research conducted that confirms this in a working environment… Well, according to my manager anyway!

    5. unoc vII says:

      Just aonther look at the situation, wouldn’t you say it is better for F1 if no female driver has the skills to compete in F1?

      Think about it. Men are classified as better are sports. Just becasue of how we are built. Male athletes can lift more weights, can run faster and are stronger.

      Can Formula 1 lose the credibility of being the highest form of motorsport and it being an actual sport (motorsport isn’t in many a mind) if female drivers can compete. I think of cricket and it’s male, footy and its female again. Rugby female, running both track and marathon show men being faster. etc… all showing that men are the better athletes.

      If formula 1 shows women outclassing men in equal situations then I’d personally say, seeing it from a business point of view, formula 1 would struggle to show itself as a down tot eh knuckles, people haved died and get injured real actual sport.

      If I saw a women win the Coleman medal or whatever in AFL I think the AFL would lose ALOT of respect and people would think of it differently as it would be hard to comprehend women (who are we know as biological fact are worse) aren’t as good at sport beating men (who we know as biological fact are better).

      I thinking F1 would struggle if a women was to actualy be able to complete. Luckily for F1 though in my beliefs, women can’t compete in F1 and it doesn’t look like they will anytime soon.

      1. murray says:

        What’s usually characterised as superior multi-tasking is usually found to be serial-tasking, and where females can often be stronger is in being aware of what each task requires, both in subconscious “tracking” of progress, and in focussing attention with immediacy. That’s generalised for ordinary people, not elite athletes. Mental acuity is very dependant on physical condition, though, and the concentrated physical stresses of F1 are likely to erode the capacity of a woman faster than a man. I think it was Dr. Falkner, involved with Tyrell, who logged pulse rate for F1 drivers and found that they sustained 150+ for the duration of a race, even pre-ground effects? There are females working as fighter pilots and in other high mental/physical stress jobs, but I don’t think that even fighter pilots are as continually physically stressed as F1 drivers for that duration. It’s also notable that women haven’t made any inroads into GP bikes, not even in the lightweight classes where slighter stature is advantageous.

      2. Patrick Sherman says:

        Unoc vII…I beg to differ. What about Danica Patrick who won at Twin Ring Motegi and is currently running a twin program in IRL and NASCAR. What about Milka Duna who has raced competively in ALMS and IRL. You probably have never heard of Shirley Muldowney who won several NHRA top fuel dragster chamionships. Two years ago Bernie Ecclestone was actively lobbying on behalf of Danica. So don’t be too quick to judge when you are not really that apprised of your facts.

      3. Sebee says:

        Milka? Are you serious? Perhaps you need to read her wiki page to update yourself?

      4. Patrick Sherman says:

        Sebee… don’t do wiki but I have seen her race in Toronto and at Mosport in ALMS and she holds her own. This thread in general trashes women’s ability to drive competitively and it is just not the case. I find that most men who choose to denigrate women who compete in traditional male endeavours do so because of their own shortcomings.

      5. Aussie Fan says:

        So if I read that correctly, you are saying that you couldn’t you respect a woman that in spite of lacking the “apparent” sporting attributes of the male, managed to overcome this & compete & win at the very top level. Does this not mean she is even MORE talented than the equivilant male.

        And your response would be to lose respect for the competition that this woman took part in??

        What a strange outlook, & to say “Women can’t compete in F1″ without even giving them a chance is pretty silly IMHO.

        Lance Armstrong shouldn’t have been able to comeback & compete in the Tour De France,& yet he did & in a spectacular fashion.

        Imagine if he had listened to someone like yourself when deciding whether or not to give it another go…..

      6. Paul Kirk says:

        Hay, Unoc, regarding your comment on “sports”, in many people’s mind motoracing and boxing are the ONLY sports and all the other things are merely GAMES!
        PK.

      7. James Allen says:

        Hemingway said Bull fighting and motor racing are the only true sports

      8. And mountain climbing…

    6. Michael says:

      On average women are better at multitasking and manual dexterity than men. On average, they are more resilient to extreme fatigue. On average they lack in strength and spatial awareness.
      However, top athletes, regardsless of the sport they compete in, are not average specimen of the sex they represent. They are truly extraordinary, and by definition therefor fall outside any scientific range of predictablilty.
      More so, a few months ago you informed us, quite brilliantly I might add, on the fitness and strength level required for Formula One. And applying 140 kg of brake force to the pedal consistently for the whole race is not something a woman can easily do. For even the fittest female world class weightlifer or sprinter barely reach strength levels easily achieved by mere national level competitors. So unless that changes, we wo’n’t be seeing much (if any) females in Formula One.

    7. David McVey says:

      I don’t agree with the multi tasking thing. Everyone is different, I know women that are hopeless at multi tasking and men that are great at it and vice versa. These so called studies are fundamentally floored because they take a narrow view if a very wide subject.

      Also, I feel women would struggle in F1. There could be the odd exception to the rule but generally speaking it would be hard to find a woman that had the killer instinct for F1. Their natural instict to be caring and nurturing is at odds with the basic requirements for F1. In my experience women crave security, comfort and stability as do many men. An F1 driver is not like that, they live on their nerves, if they’re not on a knife edge they’re bored. They don’t think in terms of “ooh that was a nasty crash”, they think “wahoo, that was a good shunt”. I have yet to meet a woman that thinks going backwards into some armco at 160mph is funny.

      You have to be able to block every other consideration out of your mind in order to race successfully in F1. The moment thoughts of the wife and kids start creeping into your head your career is finished. Look at Hakkinen, went from totally formidable to a nervous wreck because he didn’t want to die in a racing car.

      I doubt very much that there are many women around that are capable of shutting out the danger, pushing the car beyond its capabilities and risking a spring in the head/severed arm or worse just to find that extra tenth.

      BTW, my wife completely agrees with me.

      1. Paul Kirk says:

        Well, David, you make some interesting points, but many of them are wrong, (in my experience), however, irespective of all that if you look at the history of motorsport at the upper level you can see that for some reason females cannot achieve the ultimate lap times and race results that males can. (Except for the odd lucky set of circumstances). So I too don’t expect to see a female competing at the front of a F1 race anytime soon! But for the novelty factor, it might be workable to have an all female F1 class, say in last year’s cars and lasting 30 minutes, it would certainly apeal to different sections of the public and sponsors!
        PK.

      2. David McVey says:

        Inevitably, I disagree. Why do you think it is that women historically have not been able to achieve the “ultimate lap time” when it comes to the crunch? It’s because it isn’t in them to throw caution to the wind and push that little bit harder. Hard enough to unsettle, possibly risk accident causing instability just to find that little bit more pace.

        On the results issue, men are more suited to F1 because they are more willing to be all elbows so to speak. It’s a similar situation in banking. More men are capable of trampling on anyone and anything to get the desired result and likewise, the victims (usually men) find it easy to accept as par for the course. In short, men will bully their way to success whereas a woman would want to be appreciated, supported and nurtured. Can you imagine turn one at Spa, “Oh after you please”, “Oh no, after you”.

        I don’t see the benefit of your female F1 concept either. For starters it sounds a bit of a patronising platitude and more importantly which of the under-card would you be willing to sacrifice in order to accommodate it? GP2 perhaps?

        When will people realise that there are fundamental differences between men and women and accept them. I totally agree that in most circumstances men and women can perform equally well but there are certain areas in which each gender is pre disposed to do better.

        Also, why is sexism acceptable as long as you call it feminism?

  3. AlexD says:

    F1 aside, I do not think that multitasking (calling friends, eating a sandwich, doing make up) – all while driving a car is a good thing to do. I really feel much more comfortable on the road when I see males driving, unable to multitask.

    1. Aussie Fan says:

      That’s because you are a chavunist buddy, well done!

    2. Sebee says:

      My wife can put on makeup, drink coffee, talk on phone hansdfree and still deliver a proper highway lane change. I’m sure women can handle a little wing and some boost. Anyway, they will cut through themale BS and do away with half the useless toys on that stearing wheel. You know at least half the channels are for the iPod and audio system.

  4. Ginger says:

    Brilliant!

    To be fair as it seems that the drivers are having to preserve the tyres rather than driving flat out it would seem like the perfect time.

    Would be good to see a women driving. I bet Bernie would love the extra column inches…

    1. Aussie Fan says:

      Bernie, women, extra inches? hahahaha comedy GOLD in the making!

  5. Harvey Yates says:

    Well, there’s a first time for everything, James. Can I put you right?

    Thre is no evidence that women are better at multitasking than men. You can search universities and the internet and there is nothing.

    All research tends to suggest that men are just as capable of multitasking as women. Or, to put it another way, women are just as good as men.

    I was at Le Mans in Novemeber 2003 to report on the TVRs at the inaugral Le Mans Endurance Series. There was an all woman team: Amanda Stretton, Liz Halliday – who commentates so well on the 24-Hours – and the startlingly fast Fanny Duchateau. I discovered the main difference between female and male drivers.

    Towards the end of the race Fanny was circulating under instructions for a specific lap time and hitting it more or less on the button every lap. Then the car in front, a Morgan, slowed rather dramatically. Fanny was told to increase her speed. Which she did immediately. The Morgan, its position under threat, came in for a splash and dash, leaving the pits comfortably in front of the TVR.

    Despite circulating for four or five laps at near the limit of the car, Fanny immediately slowed once she got the message to revert to her previous lap times.

    Name one male driver who would have done that. One of the men in the other TVR wouldn’t even come in for his scheduled pit stop.

    Amanda was adament that whilst F1 cars depended so much on physical ability, women would never be able to compete equally with men. However, endurance events were another matter entirely.

    But no more multitasking myth spreading please.

  6. N says:

    It doesn’t seem to me that competing in F1 is about the gender. Ability to drive as much on the limit as possible seems to be more important. A driver’s body needs to be able to cope with the forces applying on them during the drive. Probably there are many more factors to count with.
    I can’t say that i knew that women are better at multi tasking than men, but don’t deny it either (in general). There haven’t been many women driving in F1 and it think there is a reason for that too. Driving in F1 car needs more than only the ability to multi task. Seems that it’s more about the mind and the body working together while racing. Current F1 drivers are very fit and as I’ve read, they seem to have pretty tough mental exercises also.
    I guess it comes down to the simple fact, that a person simply needs to be fast in the car to have a drive in a F1 team (unless it’s a pay driver)- is it a man or a woman.

    1. F1 Grid Slot says:

      If women can train to run marathons, compete in Ironman contests and become Astronauts then I see no reason at all why they can’t also reach the level of physical fitness needed to drive an F1 car. (Is it really THAT much more taxing than driving an Indy Car like Danica Patrick??)

      As for the mental strength – it has been my experience that there are women out there who are far stronger mentally than their male counterparts, so I also see no reason why that should be an issue.

      However, the parking in Parc Ferme might take a knock if my other half’s parking is anything to go by lol!!

      1. unoc vII says:

        You had me until you mentioned Patrick…. given she is about the best female in motorsport right now, that in itself is the reason why we don’t have female F1 drivers.
        And somehow, I don’t think pushing the a fwe buttons requires the multitask bit, it just requires you push them occasionally.

        For racing its stupid having bttons, but is it really that hard? No. When I’m driving I play with the volume, air vents, the fan speed, temperature etc… Admittadly, not at F1 speeds, but then I’m not an F1 driver.

        Are the buttons stupid YES
        Are the complainng about it because they can’t handle pushing them NO
        Are the complaining about it because they are stupid YES

        And anyway, I’m sure Patrick would still be alot slower than any of the complaining F1 driers even if the later didn’t touch the buttons

      2. David McVey says:

        Yep, you nailed it there!! Patrick is not even that good in those ancient yankee go karts that everyone claims she races.

        Patrick has had only modest success and usually by attrition. She’s a poster girl and brings money to the sport because she widens the audience appeal and as such her very ordinary performance is tolerated.

        If she was a man she would have been sacked years ago

      3. Paul Kirk says:

        Danica’s quite good, but keep your eye on Simona De Silvestro, she’s very good!
        PK.

      4. murray says:

        In every sport except ultra-long-distance swimming, which requires fatty tissue to burn in low ambient temperature, the fittest males are faster and stronger for longer than the fittest women, which is why they don’t compete directly against one another in almost all sports.

  7. Ben says:

    Unless you can point to a scientific study which says that women are better than men at multi-tasking, I think it’s just as foolish to make the assumption that they are as it would be to make the assumption that they’re not. Colloquial generalizations about gender are one of the big reasons for the disparities which remain between women and men. I think that makes them irresponsible.

    If a woman, or anyone for that matter, is fast enough to be in Formula 1 – or, in this day and age, possesses the right combination of speed and sponsorship money – and is so inclined, that person should be in Formula 1. That’s the only proper basis to judge a driver’s fitness.

    1. Bobby says:

      100% spot on.

      1. unoc vII says:

        Aren’t there also studies to show that men are better racing car drivers aswell, and shouldn’t that cancel the multitasking out?

    2. F1 Grid Slot says:

      Here’s one:

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100719083042.htm

      Though granted a sample of 100 people is hardly conclusive…

    3. Brian M says:

      Agree. I thought this article was somewhat sexist. Is this the mindset in the UK? Reminds me of Austin Powers..

    4. F1 2010 to kill time until March says:

      I agree. I doubt James that you would make such a statement without something to back it up with, so referens please :)

    5. Hare says:

      I think it’s fairly easy to tell, the tongue was pretty well planted in the cheek there old chap. It’s a stereotype, not a scientific study.

  8. Kevin Hawkins says:

    Oh dear James, heavy night on the booze last eve, only joking, but no I don’t think it’s gonna happen as women have never really got on in racing, whether this is due to them having a better sense of self preservation or lack of aggression ?

    Also what’s all this about multi tasking, is it what you have seen or been told !!

    1. F1 Grid Slot says:

      Or maybe it’s because motorsport is, in general, run by men and whether they admit it or not, they will be prejudiced against letting women into their boys club.

      1. gaz909 says:

        I think it’s blatantly not about ability or talent but about the culture of F1. How many engineers or pit crew are there that are female? How many team bosses?

        However the flag bearers on the grid before the race are female and who’s that clapping the winner as he climbs the stairs to the podium? Ahhh more pit girls.

        F1 is massively sexist and the culture is macho. The argument is not about ability.

      2. David McVey says:

        How many women do you know that are interested in spanners and oily wrags?

        How many women do you know that want to stay up all night cleaning an engine or rebuilding a gearbox? Men do that at home without being paid, just for fun. I don’t know any women that do that.

        So, generally speaking most women aren’t interested in this line of work which makes the pool of female candidates small. Within that pool you have to find the really brilliant people that can cut it at the top so obviously they are hard to find and as such there aren’t many them.

        You do see the odd one in the garages though.

        Also, if you believe that F1 gives a damn what you’ve got in your pants as long as you bring more performance to the car/team you are sadly mistaken!!

      3. James Allen says:

        There are more and more female engineers in F1 actually. I think
        there is likely to be an increase through programmer like F1 in schools.

    2. Paul Kirk says:

      Well, Kevin, Two things, over on this side of the world we call it “balls”, eg “you haven’t got the balls to do it” or “Jeez, that driver must have big balls!” And of course females don’t have any, so that could be a reason for females not reaching the top in motorsport.
      And re multitasking, while growing up and doing my mechanical training I was always tought to “do one thing at a time, and do it properly, then go to the next task”, perhaps some feamales weren’t tought that that’s the best way to ensure each task is done properly!
      PK.

  9. Tim B says:

    Two very interesting points!

    More women drivers in pro motorsport would be great. I’ve seen some very quick female drivers at the club level here in Australia.

    I hadn’t really thought about the ARW in terms of adding to the chance of making a mistake that costs laptime, but that could be more interesting than the direct effect on overtaking attempts.

    It doesn’t seem to get talked about much these days, but one of the common mistakes drivers of all levels used to make was missing a gear shift. Look back at race reports from the 80s and earlier, and see how many overtakes came as a result of the guy in front (including world champions) missing a change. Technology stops that from happening now, but maybe the ARW could play a similar role.

    It will also be interesting to see whether the drivers commonly pegged as dealing well with complex situations (e.g. Schumacher, Alonso) have an advantage.

  10. sammy says:

    I remember Schumacher onboard video’s while at Ferrari doing great multitasking.

    Off topic:
    I think we are heading the wrong way with all these buttons and electronical things.
    As we all love the racing, wouldn’t it be great if we saw the cars back from the senna-prost aera? Maybe with a little tweak here and there but not too much?
    On the other hand – it’s true that F1 stands for innovation and technology…
    The adjustable rear wing and the KERS are just the ‘medication’ against the blown diffuser. Just ban the diffuser and save all the extra money. In the end when both systems are working at their limits it is just a nill-operation – no gain no pain.

  11. Larry Perkins says:

    A year or two ago an Aussie Touring car driver drove the Honda F1 for twenty odd laps. This is a full-time driver. He could barely hold his head up at the end. Nigel Mansell and Alan Jones also struggled in GP legends with Gforce and strength issues. I seriously doubt the female physiology could withstand modern day F1. Current F1 drivers have necks wider than their heads.

    1. Chip Wilhide says:

      Larry,

      Female fighter pilots in the USA tend to be capable of handling higher ‘g’ forces than males in testing. I would guess it would be no different in F1.

      1. Those aren’t lateral forces, the loads in an airplane can be considerable but they tend to be aligned to the vertical axis of the pilot. The primary concern for pilots in high G loads is the loss of blood to the brain. There are a number of tricks to combat this, flight suits with compressible bladders that pump blood up from the legs and some tricks with the leg muscles to achieve the same thing.

        The forces experienced by F1 drivers are typically a little lower, but they are experienced in 2 axis and much more violently.

    2. theRoswellite says:

      …the size of the neck musculature is developed for the most part, put a very athletic woman in similar circumstances and she would probably be able to cope.

    3. Nick F says:

      I just looked up the results for the 2010 London triathlon. I was certain I was going to find the names of several women who had beaten Jenson Button’s time. I was planning to inform you about them. Unfortunately he did really well in that race and came third for his age and there weren’t any women who had beaten him. …Damn! :-)

      Still though I’d love to see a woman make it into Forumla 1. It would be great. The first one would have to be exceptional though to silence the doubters and allow more to come in.

      1. JB was beaten at the Dorney Lake triathlon by a 15 year old girl, though: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-sport/article-23852508-f1-star-jenson-button-is-left-trailing-as-teen-sky-turns-on-the-speed.do

        I think we’ll naturally see more women compete at the higher levels of motorsport in the coming years, as the number of girls getting involved at grass roots level increases. Certainly, looking down the junior formulae it’s not hard to find women competing with men on an even footing and we have had women in series like Indycar, DTM and rallying on merit (I suspect Danica Patrick is no faster than Sarah Fisher and that her looks have won her more sponsorship and better machinery, but both are good enough to be in that field).

        Higher open wheel series do pose a problem because of the physical demands: men will always be at an advantage in any event that requires significant muscle growth or development and that will be difficult to overcome.

        I think James should probably make articles like this a little more overtly tongue in cheek in future, though!

      2. James Allen says:

        I think you’re right!

  12. For Sure says:

    “I only got a pair of hands” Lol its gotta be Alonso. I remember him saying “I don’t want to know”

    Oh sorry for off topic, looks like she is hot.

    1. F1Fan4Life says:

      I don’t know about women driving in F1 but we could definitely use some women posting if this is the quality of jokes we have in posts…

      1. For Sure says:

        *cough* What do you mean “use women posting”?

    2. Nesto says:

      ya, seriously I was thinking the same in both regards.

      As for women being better multi-taskers than men, isn’t that as accurate as me stating men are better drivers ? Even if true, could a women multitask better than a F1 driver while driving at the absolute limit ? LOL

      No women has made it to the F1 ranks, I don’t know if their “superiority” in doing more than one thing at a time would be enough to catapult them ahead of others.

      1. For Sure says:

        I am going to make a very politically wrong statement here. The truth is that men have huge advantage over women in f1.
        F1 takes strength, skills and balls, clearly.
        There is a reason why men don’t fight with women in a boxing ring.
        Women being able to multi-task?
        Well I am not sure about that. Plus they are too emotional for this kind of sport. If someone bullies them on the track, the chances are that they will cry instead of bully back.
        I think it makes a lot more sense for women to compete with men in golf then F1. I am not being sexist but that is the reality.

  13. Nick in Dubai says:

    “As we all know, women are far better at multi tasking than men – so clearly this is a golden moment for women to make the leap into F1.”

    Thats a bit of a sexist generalisation…

    It would well alongside such gems as

    “As we all know, men are far better at driving then men”

    In reality both statements are utter nonsense, and just as bad as each other. Its the individual and not the gender which determines talent.

    1. Hare says:

      Men are far better driver than men?

      You’re right, that’s utter nonsense.

  14. ozzmosis says:

    I’d like to see more women in F1, and not just drivers, but also pit crew, etc.

    Your assertion that “women are far better at multi tasking than men” seems to be more of an urban myth than an established fact, however.

    I suspect drivers complaining about not being able to multitask just need to optimise their workflow. For example it would make sense to have the KERS and adjustable rear wing buttons in close proximity to, if not next to, each other. Depending on the F1 rules it may be possible & practical to have the same button perform both functions, or one or the other depending on the car’s location on track, or proximity to other cars.

    Which reminds me, I think the 2011 F1 rules and rationale pertaining to KERS and the adjustable rear wing could be explained a little better to fans. For example:

    Can KERS be used anywhere around the circuit?

    Can the adjustable rear wing be be used for lapping cars, or just KERS?

    Why do the rules only allow use of the adjustable rear wing at pre-determined places around the circuit, during a race? Does the FIA decide on these places? Will they be shown to the viewers and commentators in an obvious way? Why only during the race?

    Can KERS and adjustable rear wings be used during wet races?

    If a driver’s car’s proximity software is unable to determine it is less than a second behind another car is it just “tough luck” for the driver? Or can the driver override the software when he is obviously less than a second behind?

    What happens if the adjustable rear wing fails and sticks open? Could this be dangerous? Could it be an advantage at some circuits, particularly Monza?

    Thanks.

    1. jonrob says:

      Can KERS be used anywhere around the circuit?
      Yes but only for a very short time. It may be fully charged before the race but not in any pit stops thereafter

      Can the adjustable rear wing be be used for lapping cars, or just KERS?
      Both, but the flap for lapping in only two parts of the track.

      Why do the rules only allow use of the adjustable rear wing at pre-determined places around the circuit, during a race?
      FIA mentality! Restricting any advantage.

      Does the FIA decide on these places?
      Yes
      Will they be shown to the viewers and commentators in an obvious way?
      I expect so they may put markers by the track but Martin and DC will make sure we all know where they are.

      Why only during the race?
      So that quali can be on the absolute limit.

      Can KERS and adjustable rear wings be used during wet races?
      Yes
      If a driver’s car’s proximity software is unable to determine it is less than a second behind another car is it just “tough luck” for the driver?
      Yes
      Or can the driver override the software when he is obviously less than a second behind?
      No
      It is locked out unless activated by control loops under or beside the track or (though unlikely) enabled by radio by the race controllers.

      What happens if the adjustable rear wing fails and sticks open?
      A speed related incident!
      Could this be dangerous?
      Very
      Could it be an advantage at some circuits, particularly Monza?
      Yes

      Suggest you read the sporting regs.

    2. Nick F says:

      Nah. You can’t have the rear wing and KERS button next to each other. The reason is that the KERS fires the 80 horse power pretty much all at once. You have to be in 3rd gear before you hit it to avoid spinning up your wheels. With the rear wing you want to have the minimum drag as soon as you don’t need the downforce any more. So they will be hitting them at different times. If you get the buttons mixed up then your going to be in a world of trouble.

      I’m not an expert, but that’s my understanding. :-)

      1. Martin says:

        Correct with the button placement, but the best way to maximise traction to make earliest use of KERS is to maximise downforce. This helps get the car into the lead car’s sliptstream ASAP. The modelling for all this would be fairly complex and would vary with tyre quality. Lowering the rear wing early is a benefit, but with drag uncreasing as a square of the velocity and the power required being a cubic fucntion, the wing will have most benefit at the start of the straight and KERS at the begining.

      2. Nick F says:

        Oh wow. OK. It’s more complicated than I thought then.

      3. Martin says:

        Hopefully you understood that I meant the rear wing will be most effective at the end of the straight.

        A complicating factor will be gearing. For a given drag level and power level, there is an optimum top gear ratio. The start finish straight is often on the longest straight, and with the KERS rules, the driver is able to use 50 per cent of the maximum charge on the lead-up to the start finish line and then get reset to 100 per cent for the actual intended qualifying lap.

        So in qualifying the driver is free to lower the rear wing and use KERS. Both are worth about 20 km/h. So if the car is normally able to do 300 km/h, the combination of KERS and the rear wing would make this 340 km/h. Now if the car is geared to 340 km/h, because of the fixed rev limit, it would only be doing 15900 rpm at 300 km/h in top gear. But at 15900 the engine will only be making something in the range of 90-93 per cent of its maximum power. If you have a scientific calculator available you’ll be able to work out that the cube root of .90 is 0.965 – what this means is that due to the reduced power the car is only able to do 289 km/h. Which only equates to 15300 rpm, where the power is less again. Calculus will tell the engineers what the maximum is, but in simple terms it would be easier just to use sixth gear for one situation and seventh for the other.

        Instead, in 2009 the KERS cars used it primarily for better acceleration rather than increased top speed. With the wing there isn’t really that choice as most of the time in the race it would have to be assumed that it isn’t available.

        Hopefully you appreciated the gratuitous engineering class, Nick. If nothing else it got me thinking about it.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      4. Andrew Carter says:

        The big wings and open wheels make F1 cars very draggy, which means that KERS only has a minimal effect as the cars aproach V max, which is why they were employed at the start of streights in 09 because drag levels are lower at slower speeds (seen to best effect in Kimi and Fisi’s fight for the lead in Belgium that year). The ARW works to reduce drag so it could mean that KERS has a bigger operating window but still wont have that big of an effect on its V max.

      5. Nick F says:

        Yes Martin I did appreciate it….thanks. :-)

        It’s all very interesting.

      6. Ron W says:

        I was with you up until you used cube root and I cannot understand where you have dragged that from? Is it some sort of generalised resistance (air&mechanical)notation? Andrew – completely agree with you on the VMax respect.

  15. wayne says:

    It’s all madness anyway – it’s not racing anymore it’s Playstation. F1 is heading into a realm where driver’s primary skill has little to do with throttle control, breaking, cornering ect. What are the thinking? It’s makes me want to weep with frustration seeing what they are doing to my sport.

    1. theRoswellite says:

      This is a complaint which finds voice whenever any new technology comes under the purview of the driver.

      And,if you honestly think that F1 driving is nothing more the video gaming you might consider the recent incidents involving Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa. Motor racing in general is a dangerous sport with very severe penalties for even small errors.

      1. wayne says:

        That very aspect of danger is a spectacular argument in the favour on NOT distracting the drivers further isn’t it?

  16. Dave says:

    Ridiculous article. If there’s a female driver fast enough then she’ll race. Until then any ideas to positively discriminate should be instantly forgotten. And as for the multi-tasking argument?! You’re an intelligent journalist James. Do you seriously believe a female can manage the cockpit tasks better than a male?!

    1. Hare says:

      The marketing potential for a woman in her first year would be awesome, especially if she looked the part.

      Don’t tell me, sex doesn’t sell right? In a sport dominated by the alternative gender?

    2. Nick F says:

      The most skilled person is not necessarily the one that gets into F1. You need millions to fund yourself through the formulas and into F1. I’m sure there are many talented kids out there who could have been excellent, but just couldn’t afford it. That no one gave them the money to proceed.

      I seem to remember that there was this kid called Lewis Hamilton a while back who entered the sport. He was the first black driver. He sucked though and proved black people couldn’t drive cars and only lasted in the sport a year. ;-)

  17. I would love to see a female driver on the grid, why not?

    Katherine Legge did ok at Indy, survived a huge crash at Road America (I think from memory, on iPhone so can’t google right now) but it was good on the series.

    What’s Katherine doing now? I really admired her.

    1. rfs says:

      She was in the DTM but lost her seat this year.

      1. that’s a shame, hope to see her again soon, she is a nice person

      2. kowalsky says:

        why. Was she caught talking on the phone? That’s the problem when you are so good at multitasking. You do several things at the time, but all to a lower level.

      3. She’s looking for a seat in Indycar. No idea why she’s not in DTM any more. However, her team-mate Markus Winklehock was also dropped from the team, making me think “team reorganisation” rather than “driver did wrong”.

  18. Ash says:

    Umm… I’m a bit in shock about this entry. “We all know women are better at multi-tasking than men”. Really?

  19. ozzmosis says:

    Also James, I don’t believe this is what you intended, but your headline “Why this is the right moment for women drivers in F1″ may cause some people think you mean that until now it was the wrong time for women drivers to be in F1. Or that if F1 steering wheels became less complicated in future, female drivers would no longer be welcome.

    I don’t think you need to invent tenuous reasons as to why women should be in F1. It’s pretty clear to me that if a driver has the talent, mental and physical ability, they should be in F1 regardless of their gender.

  20. CNSZU says:

    This is presumably a joke. Anyway, it’s a very weak argument that women would be better drivers than men just because some of the current drivers might forget to press a button during testing while learning the new system.

    If this is the only thing that women might be better at (which is not certain) than they don’t stand a chance because there are plenty of other aspects of driving, namely physical, mental strength and quick eye-and coordination, which are all traits that men excel at.

    In addition to your weak argument, your photo is sexist, implying that only beautiful women are worth selecting as drivers, to please the male-dominant, petrol-headed racing community.

  21. M says:

    This thing that women are better at multi-tasking….don’t see it myself in real life. Women in general seem helpless and always in need of assistance, not knowing how to decide or when to act.

    This feminist agenda is laughable, glad that many women seem to realize this too.

    1. Knuckles says:

      Oh dear.

  22. Katie Fenn says:

    Hi James, thank you for writing this article. I feel like I must say that I expected a more in-depth article when I read the headline, and I was slightly disappointed that your argument hangs on the anecdotal evidence that women are better multitaskers than men.

    I’m going to throw another argument into the discussion: younger generations of people are better at multitasking than the older generation.

    I won’t dispute that women appear to be better at coping with more than one task that requires their attention at once. I feel that there is probably some truth to the popular belief in order for it to perpetuate, but is often stated without being accompanied with a closer examination.

    The argument that the younger generation are better suited to multitasking is also often used with very little examination – which I have just become guilty of.

    I believe that younger people, like many women, have a predisposition to be better at multitasking in certain contexts, but that the reality of performing in more than one task at once is more complex than singling out one demographic alone. One such article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11035055) seems to show that it is strategy that is key to managing multiple tasks, and that an innate ability to do any two given things at once is a myth. Perhaps the root of women being superior multitaskers lies in a predisposition to plan around such problems.

    I’d like to see a more detailed debate about what women can bring to motorsport – something I hope the comment thread will provide – and question whether what they offer is significant compared to other factors. Much has been made of younger drivers such as Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton coming from the “videogame generation”, who have gone on the record to say that in the past they have preferred using the franchised F1 games to using the simulator to learn about new circuits. Does this offer a distinct advantage over older drivers? Is this a more significant factor than, say, race strategy, cockpit layout, gender or predictable car handling?

    My personal hope is that more women are successful in F1, as drivers, as mechanics, as team principles or as journalists as it takes trailblazers to open up new avenues for women, as it does for other demographics. I think trailblazers do more for under-represented demographics than positive discrimination. I don’t think that F1 doesn’t appeal to women because of the lack of female drivers, far from it. The trick is to have more women on the grid and in the paddock as well as the well populated photo threads on web forums (tongue firmly in cheek, but I for one love these).

    Last of all, thank you James for all of your articles. I’ve enjoyed reading your website since its beginnings for its valuable insight and its consistency for reporting on every detail in every season. I’m looking forward to reading the comment thread :-)

    1. Martin says:

      Hi Katie,

      My immediate reaction is how are we defining multi-tasking? The household cliche of managing several separate things, such multiple things on the stove, the small children, putting the washing on, are all distinct processes. One can be performed before or after then other, all just need to be done.

      In an F1 car it is largely about a complex process that we are talking about – brake, steer, throttle, push button a, b, etc. Computer games will bring a degree of dexterity to the hands that might not otherwise be developed before sitting in the car.

      At various times, different drivers have been singled out for having additional mental capacity to think about other aspects of the race, rather than just driving quickly. I would call this a level of multi-tasking, although cloesly related areas.

      Fitness has been mentioned, but provided the concentration levels are there through the race, everything else should be okay. The cars have power steering – unlike the IRL where there are women driving on ovals with big forces over long races.

      Physical size could be an advantage for women as light and narrow drivers are useful for packaging purposes, provided the team mate is also small.

      Fundamentally though, it comes down to speed. Go-karting is the most likely way to get to F1, and statistically the participation rate would need to increase. Then there is the physiological question of do men and women sense gravitational forces in exactly the same way? The two sexes have very different brain structures, and I remember one science program from a long time ago talking about the sense of gravity and it suggested that women had variations during their menstrual cycle. It is something that I’ve never looked for again and may have been disproven. But that sense of forces is critical to being about to take a car to limit and not exceed it in a corner. A study of sports such as gymnastics might tell us more about why there is limited overlap in the routines. The men tend to do more strength and control movements and the women more spatial balance. It is isn’t a black and white division between force sensing and position sensing, but it may be a clue to success on a racing track. From that you could extrapolate an argument that this isn’t as important for rally drivers. In terms of sensitivity to sensing forces, motorbikes are even more critical (Schumi has noted this), so a look at girls in bike racing could be enlightening. Somehow, I suspect dads (less often) mums) are even less likely to want to but a teenage daughter in a motorbike race.

      Cheers,

      Martin

  23. chris partridge says:

    Not sure it’s entirely right that women are better multi tankers than men, but certainly drivers this year will be separated by those who can perform multiple functions (Schumi, Alonso) over those who can’t.

  24. chris partridge says:

    Multi-taskers even!

  25. Mattw says:

    “As we all know, women are far better at multi tasking than men”
    Are they though? The RAF tests pilots multi tasking ability in their training – and has found no specific multi tasking advantage in either gender.

    If they did, our fighter pilots would all be women by now.

    Would be good to see some females make it into F1 however.

  26. Thomas says:

    I would like to recommend Shirley van der Lof. Her grandfather had the F1-skills back in the days. I believe she is doing F3 right now.

  27. David Hardman says:

    Hi James,

    Speaking as an academic psychologist, the suggestion that women are better multi-taskers than men is a piece of folklore. A trawl of the internet shows that the evidence being put forward for this claim comes largely from people with something to sell, rather than from academic researchers. There is one piece of academic research, by Keith Laws at the University of Hertfordshire, which claims to find some support for the idea that women are better multi-taskers, but this has so far not appeared in a peer-reviewed academic journal. It may of course be that few people have yet conducted research into this area, but I suspect it is more likely that research has been conducted and the results have not been interesting (i.e. no sex differences), and so the researchers have not bothered publishing.

    Despite this, I for one would love to see some female drivers thrown into the mix.

    I do wonder, though, just how many demands can be put upon a driver, in terms of buttons to press and so on, before it actually risks deteriorating from performance instead of improving it.

    1. Rob Pullar says:

      Why would academics not publish results that showed there was no difference between the sexes in multitasking? This is still an interesting and relevant finding, and while it may not grab the tabloid headlines, there is still always a pressure to publish as many papers as possible in academia. This is certainly the case in the physical sciences, where I work.

      1. David Hardman says:

        @Rob

        You’re right to ask that question, but unfortunately it happens a lot, and isn’t unique to psychology. It’s known as ‘the file drawer’ problem, on the basis that many unpublished studies sit in the researchers’ filing cabinets. It’s simply that journals are more interested in publishing studies that have a positive result (one that shows differences between groups) than ones that have negative results (no differences between groups). The fact that there is pressure to publish most likely exacerbates this, because it just means that larger numbers of papers get rejected from journals (there isn’t room to publish everything).

    2. theRoswellite says:

      @ David Hardman, well said.

      James,one needs to tread lightly over any subject relating to differences between the sexes, not because of wanting to avoid being politically incorrect, but simply to avoid being…………wrong!

  28. Andy says:

    Bit late for Ferrari to say that – all the best female drivers are giving up on Europe and heading to the States where they get a fair crack at it. Both Simona de Silvestro and Bia Figueiredo are now pretty much wedded to IndyCar when either could have made a splash in GP2 on merit.

  29. unoc vII says:

    3 things…

    Firstly, your argument that women are better multi-taskers and hence are better are at using all the buttons flies in the face of the current mob of drivers, out of which those who are against all the button work include long haired Fernando Alonso and long haired Vettel. While the shorter haired drivers are making less of a mark about having too many buttons. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, with the longer haired drivers (your Alonso’s, Vettel’s, Rosberg, perhaps a Kimi Raikkonen [don't tell him]) be more for this multitasking while the less metro drivers (thinking of Webber, Schumacher, Di Resta etc…) be more against?

    Secondly, Any women can get into F1 right now – all she needs is a bag of cash marked send to HRT. As can anyone…

    And finally, isn’t it rather sexist of you to say that men are worse muli-taskers? Soon you’ll be saying all the Japanese drivers are better at banzai moves…. :)

  30. Zara says:

    I think its a very simplistic view on the matter if you reason that women should be in f1 just because they can multi task better. I think you forget that these drivers arnt normal men, their brains operate on a completely different level to the average joe.

    1. James Allen says:

      Oh dear, we really are having a sense if humour failure here

      1. rihie675 says:

        it’d be fantastic to have a slightly more balanced grid, i for one would be delighted if any female manages to be both strong and talented enough to make it in f1, which is why we watch these track gladiators in the first place.

        in fact there’d be some spectacular track action, as they may very well be better at multi-tasking but you forgot to mention that women are well-known to have less spacial awareness so we could expect many more ‘vettel’ moments!

      2. Tim. says:

        Fell out of my chair laughing

  31. Yo! F1 says:

    Seriously James, that is such a simplistic view of thinking about things. You can say the average woman down the road is better at multi-tasking han average man at doing very trivial things. But as for sportsmen who have a developed capacity to multi-task this will not apply. Can anybody mention a sport that involves multi-tasking that women excel men???..Also, she’s got to have the skill of an F1 driver otherwise whats the point in woman F1 driver for the sake of it

  32. Mike894 says:

    “As we all know, women are far better at multi tasking than men”, where has this been established as something “we all know”? Until everyone agrees to this statement, I don’t think it’s an accurate bit of journalism, since I disagree.

    I’d like to suggest that Mr. Allen arrange a test in a simulator, with 10 randomly-selected females and males, and see who’s more able.

    I’ll bet most women can’t even tell the difference between torque and horsepower, much less adjust the torque, flap, fuel mixture, and brake balance while braking, shifting, steering, and withstanding 3 1/2 G’s.

    1. mvi says:

      Re your last paragraph, I would bet most men can’t tell the difference either…

      1. Mike894 says:

        Maybe, but try explaining it and you’ll probably have better success with men. In my experience, 2 out of 3 girls can’t even understand how to figure the mileage they’re getting, explained or not. On the other hand, there are plenty of things I’m incompetent at that women find easy.

      2. unoc vII says:

        2 things….
        1) ‘I don’t think it’s an accurate bit of journalism, since I disagree.’ – You can call it not accurate journalism and that you disagree, but you can disagree with something accurate. It means that the disagreer is wrong.

        2) You’re talking about two different things.
        a) Interest in cars
        b) Racing ability

        Interest in cars if obviously vary different. Most guys consider what is under the bonnet, even if it is only as far as getting a meaty V6 over a ‘girly’ 4 cylinder. More guys are interested in performance of cars and designs etc… Just as women are more interested in fashion and how that changes blah blah get me a puke bucket. YOu will get some on each side interested in both or the other, but rarely you will find a man interested in going through catalogues and window shopping out of enjoyment just as rarley a women will turn down a cute car that gets her around for something with 13 more bhp but slightly less torque and will happily explain the pros and cons of including laps of the nurburgring.

        What James is talking about is driving ability, and so we are immediately talking about the women already interested in driving.
        Just as talking about Male models you immediately exclude most guys.

        I believe that women aren’t as good at driving simply due to how our minds are structured. It would be interesting to get a large group of young kids starting karts, and at the end of each year measure there ability through qualifying laps and races. Repeat each year. I have a feeling that while young the most intersted boys and girls would be similiar followed by other boys and then less interested girls. But by 20 I would be putting all the guys firmly ahead of the girls. or men ahead of the women by that stage.

        I know I’ve had tests ever since birth for a study every few years for non driving related, so these things have been done. Only problem is getting a group large enough at the beginning for their still to be a large enough sample size at the end.

        Just one of a myriad of tests I’d like to do, other include
        - Driving ability vs IQ (drivers, especially F1 drivers tend to me classified as some of the smartest athletes in the world), and it would be interesting to see especially amoungst brothers etc… Just seeing why Michael Schumacher was one of the best F1 drivers while Ralph was not so. yes MS one in situations where it was hard to lose, but he got there through his ability. What were the differences under the bonnet of these two and others.
        - Mental states of drivers through their learning. They seem rather similiar in their focused state, but as children how did the become this way. Was it just culminating a group of similiar people as F1 drivers or did these people learn more or in a differnet way
        - and a few others that it’s getting a bit too late to go into

  33. Paul says:

    It’s something I had been thinking – which drivers are particularly good and which are particularly poor at “multi-tasking”.

    Alonso and Kubica were both able to work the F-duct quite well last year, and Petrov famously was not, but are there any others?

  34. Danny says:

    Yes, but at this moment a more significant question is, should F1 race in countries where leaders kills peaceful protesters? Bahrain:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv1zn50KFZc

    1. Rob Pullar says:

      Not at all like China then?

      1. Danny says:

        I think it is important in the international opinion that F1 not only becomes a “greener” sport. It should also be a dictator-free sport. So China, for example, is included.

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Do you mean that F1 shouldn’t race in the UK??

      http://bit.ly/eGDF5

      1. Danny says:

        UK is not an autocracy, as far as I know.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        “countries where leaders kills peaceful protesters?”

        If you follow the link, it takes you to the article in the Wikipedia about the incidents happened in Bogside, Derry, N. Ireland, in 30 Jan 1972, when soldiers of the First Batallion of the Parachute Regiment shot unarmed and peaceful demonstrators. As a result of the attack, 13 protesters were killed – seven of them were teenagers.

        Investigations carried out by the Brit Gov (the “Saville Inquiry”) concluded that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were both “unjustified and unjustifiable.”

        Far from my intention to say that the UK is an autocracy, of course. I was just trying to point out how difficult – and even unfair – is to make questions as yours:changing the year and country, it could result in something like “should F1 had refused to race in the UK (on 1972)?”

  35. Dave C says:

    To be honest I really don’t think women are better at multitasking than men at all. But still it’d be interesting to see some women drivers in the mix even though it’d be hard for them to make the grade.

  36. DB says:

    Is it written somewhere that the rear wing mechanism and KERS must have separate buttons or could the teams do smart things like putting both on the same button and using software to, say, set the perfect delay between deploying them on the back straight or chose which to activate depending on track position or whatever would be a good idea?
    Or does the standard ECU prevent it anyway and so it doesn’t have to be written anywhere?

  37. Neil Kenward says:

    As Billy Connolly pointed out, if women are so good at multi-tasking, how come they can’t make love and have a headache at the same time?

    1. kowalsky says:

      brilliant.

      1. Stu says:

        Apparently love making aids a headache…. That’s a comeback I like to keep up my sleeve!

  38. Stu says:

    It would be good for F1 to have a female driver, imagine the PR if nothing else. Indycars has had one for a few years, I forget her name.

    As long as whoever joins F1 is as competitive as her then there isn’t a problem, if she is uncompetitive as Giovanna Amati who drove for Brabham in 1992 however….

    1. kowalsky says:

      danika patrick is her name. And she must not be very good at multitasking, because having the best car-team, she only won once.
      Women are better than men at talking james, not at driving.
      For some reason the sport wants to atract women, and think that getting a female driver it’s going to make it for them.
      Bring back fat tyres, 900bhp engines with an great sound. That’s what f1 needs, not another second class driver, just because she is a female.

      1. Hare says:

        Nice :)

        Women are significantly better adept at picking up emotions from people as well. Some can be very good at organisation. Some are incredibly smart.. in fact, some women can be damned awesome, and put men to shame.

        Hey life’s better for men that women are in it, and one could argue vice versa..

        However, there’s a serious point here, in that, there’s is reportedly a lot of sexism in motorsport, and historically F1.

        Danica said she found sexism when she was racing in the UK, and she didn’t like the politics and environment of UK racing. She found it difficult.

        Which is fair comment

      2. Valens says:

        Actually Patrick’s team (Andretti-Green, becoming Andretti Autosport) isn’t the best team, and hasn’t been for a number of years now. They are the 3rd ranked team behind Penske and Ganassi.
        Patrick’s win came in 2008. In that same timeframe her team-mates Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan have only two wins between them (1 each for RHR and Kanaan) in the years 2008-2010.
        Just try getting your facts straight before doing someone down.

    2. Rob Pullar says:

      “Indycars has had one for a few years, I forget her name.”

      Doesn’t this kind of sum up the problem?

      1. Stu says:

        I don’t remember her name as I don’t watch/follow Indycars enough.

        I do however remember Lyn St James who drove a limited programme of Indycar races from 1992 onwards.

  39. Daniel Gomes says:

    I’ll have to disagree here James. Not about women coming into F1, because that would be awesome at any and all times, but about your justification.

    Women are better at multi-tasking than men? So what? Although driving an F1 car requires multi-tasking, the main task of all is to actually drive it around corners and thourgh straights.

    It is far more important to be quick around the track first and then learn all the other nit-picking points about driving the car.

    A woman can push many buttons at once for different objectives each, but can she be fast?

    For me, women should be in F1 if and when they’re quick. If they’re pretty, that’s a plus for the lads (with all due respect). That’s all there is to it, IMO.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think you’re all taking this a bit too seriously! It was only a but if fun, looking at a topical situation ie how much drivers have to do now..

      1. kowalsky says:

        i don’t think so james. We all know your views on the subject. It’s not the first time you talk about it.
        And as i said before. This is a mens sport. And we like the speed, the sound and the beautiful gridgirls. At valencia they put gridboys, and tha was it for me. Never go to watch that gp.
        If you can find a girl with ayrton senna’s skills, bring her on. But forgive me if i am sceptic.

      2. mvi says:

        Correction: Bring on a girl or boy with Ayrton Senna’s skills.

      3. Rob Pullar says:

        Worms, can of, opened!

      4. Andy c says:

        Did mrs a write this article after you left the computer unlocked James :-)

      5. DC says:

        I owe you an apology James. I fell for it hook line and sinker. Thought you were being serious…..face palm!

  40. Alan Dove says:

    Not sure what to make of this? :)

    To me it’s quite simple. You’ll see a woman in F1 when there is a women good enough for F1. There has been a greater push by the FIA to award females in motorsport, but I find it all somewhat discomforting, discriminatory and very patronising.

    Why in a sport where men and women can compete together on equal terms do we have to constantly find ways to discriminate between the two?

    For me you’ll find someone when you see them competing at the highest levels of karting without anyone really caring that they are a girl. Her name is Beitske Visser.

    Though the FIA still felt they needed to point out the fact she was a girl with a special ‘CIK-FIA Women and Motor Sport Commission Award’. Happily she sees herself as a racing driving on the track – “When I compete, I feel myself as a racing driver, not as a girl.” HOW refreshing!

    That’s a top tip there James, thank me in 10 years time :)

  41. igb says:

    Of course, the “women are better at multi-tasking” thing is a rather glib, vaguely sexist assumption to go along with “black men have a natural sense of rhythm”. It has no basis in any sort of controlled experiment, and is often a prelude to some snarky comment about people talking while driving. The usual implication is that women can multi-task because the individual tasks aren’t as difficult or important as those done by men. To take an obvious comparison, although there’s no suggestion women don’t make excellent airline and fast jet pilots (the multi-tasking jobs par excellence) there’s no suggestion they’re any better at it than men.

    That said, there are still clear reasons why women have a significant disadvantage in F1. For as long as power braking is banned there is going to be a premium on lower-body strength, and for as long as there is downforce there is going to be a premium on neck and upper body strength. It’s not that women don’t, or can’t, develop this: it’s that it’s harder, so for any given level of interest and other talents (reaction time, eyesight, hand/eye co-ordination) the threshold to be crossed for a woman to have the strength is higher than for men. The cardio-vascular issue is less clearcut: F1 racing is comparable marathon duration, and there’s some evidence that women are more competitive with men the longer the distances in consideration, with near-parity in ultra-marathon running.

    But if you take a bunch of FFord drivers, in which women are doing pretty well, and ask them to step up to F1, ability-for-ability the women will find it physically harder to develop the strength, and therefore the pool of potential is reduced in size: if you take 10 male FFord drivers and 10 female FFord drivers, there will be fewer women able to drive an F1 car effectively than men, even given some months of preparation. There are possible solutions: permit power-assisted brakes would be one, and a reduction in downforce to produce lower cornering and braking loads would be another. But if the job at hand is stopping a car at 4g with unassisted brakes, out of any given talent pool, there will be more men that can do it than women.

    Similarly, you could throw professional football open to women tomorrow morning, and not one of the women in the England women’s football team would be on the bench in the Blue Square Conference: there are too many men whose football is just good enough, when combined with the advantages of speed and size, to make it almost impossible for women to break into the sport. The Bobby Riggs/Billie Jean King tennis encounter is meaningless, as Riggs was a washed-up retired player 26 years older than King; more interesting is the match between Connors and Navratilova close to the peak of their powers, where Connors, having to defend the doubles court, and only permitted one serve per point, nonetheless won in straight sets.

    The only way to get women competing in motorsport at the top level is to look to formulae which don’t place significant strength demands on the competitors,so that the talent pools are equal in size. Whatever Indy is called this week has good-ish female drivers, in part because of the fairly agricultural aerodynamics which mean there is less downforce. Rallying likewise, because it’s not a strength formula.

  42. Knuckles says:

    James, I’m all for a capable female driver in F1, but the multitasking argument is bogus. It’s one of these research results that are highly inconclusive to begin with, and are then deliberately or not misunderstood by the media and spread, losing whatever truth they originally found with each degree of separation from the original study. Regularly it’s in particular the question of nature vs. nurture that is suspicious, given that there’s no practicable way to control for these variables. Predictably the “proofs” these studies find change with the political mood of the times.

    To repeat the quote frequently alleged to have originated with Ernest Rutherford, ‘The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the “social sciences” is: some do, some don’t.’

    I know that recently the papers reported a study to have found “proof” of an inherent advantage for women in that area, but as far as I know no formal research paper has so far been published for peer review.

    The Wikipedia article gives a good summary as a starting point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_multitasking

  43. Jo Torrent says:

    Actually motorsport is a sport for women because although it requires physical fitness, it doesn’t require a top class athlete. I don’t think that any of the F1 drivers would establish any mind blowing times in any sporting discipline so a well trained woman will cope easily with F1 physically.
    I’ve never read something stipulating that men have better reflexes than women so it’s not a problem either.

    The problem is that girls are less interested by motorsport and the few interested are faced with a psychological barrier of a testosterone world where it’s hard for them to find a place. As there are very few girls in those lower categories, it’s hard to find and nurture talent among women.

    The work must start way before F1 because once a woman comes with enough talent many sponsors will embrace the newcomer and encourage teams to hire her.

    1. Mike894 says:

      So tired of females using the “man’s world” for excuses. If women are just as capable physically, why do there have to be separate male and female categories in so many sports?

      There is no “barrier of a testosterone world”, and females can generally “find a place” much more easily in this world than males. How many female derelicts do you see? It’s tougher for us to get a life and survive, and we generally die much younger as a result.

      As for F1 not requiring a top-class athlete, and “woman will copy easily with F1 physically”, it’s been made clear that the top female drivers are welcome to test, so why haven’t they? Maybe because they would only embarrass themselves and injure the agenda of those females who also want to be males.

    2. Richard G says:

      “…it doesn’t require a top class athlete…” is a pretty sweeping statement Jo. I seem to recall in the TV series of the 70s the F1 drivers always gave a pretty good account of themselves and their sport against the ‘normal’ athletes. And given that fitness levels and athleticism (sic?) have gone up in all sports since, I can’t agree with your statement.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        What I mean by top athlete is an athlete capable of competing in olympics with extra-ordinary physical assets. Those who drive F1 are extremely well trained but aren’t physically superior to a normal human being. Put them in the best physical discipline against a woman athlete and you’ll see how average they are because the aim in F1 is to drive without being tired in order to maintain high concentration level for the whole race and that’s achievable by both men and women equally.

        They publicize themselves as great athletes in order to make it look harder than it really is but they aren’t.

  44. Owen says:

    Nico (Britney) for WDC then.

    1. kowalsky says:

      spot on. Bridney is the closest f1 it’s going to get, to a competitive f1 female driver.

  45. Red5 says:

    In general I support KERs and the new ARW.

    However, I would prefer the next World Champion to be the best driver, not the best multi-tasker.

    Fighter pilots are great multi-taskers.

    Senna, Mansell, Prost, etc, were great racing drivers.

  46. jonrob says:

    As I have said on here before, the reason we don’t see any Women in F1 is physical and that most women while capable do not want to train to the level of strength, endurance and fitness required, and above all to develop neck muscles like Sylvester Stallone which is a necessary by product the lateral g forces of today’s F1. (Yes I know women race on banked tracks in the USA, but there the lateral g is converted to vertical by the banking) Ask any of the men if it’s a doddle, they end up completely knackered after some races.
    Also the enclosed, often secretive,team atmosphere; their lives being controlled by Team managers, race engineers, trainers, managers, sponsors, owners. The constant travel, abandoning their families for much of the year seems to affect women a bit more than men. (women are more sensitive than men and often more perceptive and likely to pick up on any interruption in the harmony within the team, whereas men shrug and carry on without a thought)
    Is it irresponsible to race if you have young children? (Father and oldest child to answer)

  47. DC says:

    I have a feeling a number of men may respond the same way, but this women being better at multitasking is a myth.

    Ask fighter pilots. There are now plenty of women fighter pilots, and plenty of women astronauts for that matter and in all the tests at that level the gender is irrelavant. It’s not gender specific. It’s about a type of wiring in the brain that matters, not to mention a natural ability to perform under high pressure and G-force loading… and it’s pretty evenly split. If we can finally remove the sexist argument then I see no reason why woman can’t drive at the same level as men…once the right women get through the field just like the right men do. The switches have nothing to do with it. Only a small percentage of either gender can do it well.

    It’s just a matter of who has the right stuff male or female…

  48. Ben G says:

    Would love to see more women in motorsport.

  49. Bill Day says:

    I can think of an even better reason to have women drivers: women are 51% of the population.

    It would be great for motorsport to be like the equestrian sports, with men and women competing equally. And there’s no reason for it not to be like that — except for the culture of motorsport.

  50. AndyK says:

    While we all know that women are bar better at multitasking than men.. you seem to be forgetting one small thing..
    Women are much worse at driving than men!! Haha

  51. ACr says:

    The multi-tasking thing is not true, as has now been said. It was always a pathetic male “excuse”.

    What is or was apparently true is that women can deal with g-forces better, as discovered by USAF. Unless that’s been debunked too. Not sure if that helps in F1. Might make women more alert in a fast corner, or in a crash…

  52. Steph says:

    Strange article James. If we’re going to stick with gender stereotypes, aren’t women also supposed to be terrible drivers?

  53. Bruce says:

    If women are good at multitasking, then why can’t they have a headache and sex at the same time?

  54. drake says:

    You’re absolutely right, James. Women are better at multi-tasking and this is a growing prerequisite for an F1 driver.

    Furthermore, there is no parallel parking in F1.

  55. @ Jo Torrent, Martin Brundle is always banging on about how F1 drivers are like olympic athletes and how F1 drivers compete in triathlons. I think you might be surprised at quite how high the bar is for this lot.

  56. Fred says:

    Hi All, interesting article.

    We have had a very straight talking, and humourous discussion about this issue of women and sexism in F1 on our forum.

    Check it our here:

    http://www.f1predictions.net/forum/index.php?board=f1&action=display&thread=28

    Regards

    Fred

  57. Rob 7 says:

    Women are always telling us that they’re ‘better at multi-tasking’, but there’s never been any evidence that this is true. One recent report that I saw, concluded that whilst some women could perform more separate tasks at one time than some men,in general they didn’t perform them to the same standard. You only have so much concentration, and when it’s split more than one way, the quality of work inevitably suffers, which doesn’t sound as if womens’ claimed multi-tasking ability would help very much where a current F1 steering wheel was concerned.

  58. jim says:

    “As we all know, women are far better at multi tasking than men – so clearly this is a golden moment for women to make the leap into F1.”

    I wasn’t aware of the fact that women are better multitaskers than men.
    I do know that men are far better drivers than women though, as shown here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39qdhbkTko4

    1. kowalsky says:

      nice video. From a time when you could say the truth with humor, not having to say what the mayority of people wanted to hear.

  59. Alistair Fraser says:

    James, do you think that the increased workload for drivers will play into the hands of certain drivers in particular? Alonso seems to have spare mental capacity for race management when driving so I suspect he will cope well. Sadly I suspect that this would also have played to the strengths of Kubica. Will be interesting to see if anyone struggles though

  60. Danny says:

    This issue of drivers remembering to use KERS and ARW especially in Qualifying, should not be a problem as thats what their race engineer is their for to remind them if need be. But surley all drivers especially the top drivers by qualifying after going through 3 practice sesions will have gotten when to use KERS and ARW down to a fine art.

  61. Chris says:

    If the FDA can find a female driver genuinely talented enough to make it into F1 then brilliant. It’d add another ineteresting dynamic to the sport.

    However, what I think is more likely to happen, is that they or someone else, if they are really serious about this, would most likely promote a driver who probably isn’t really up to the task but it would be a valuable marketing ploy and also very PC and modern to have a female F1 driver.

    If a female candidate comes along who genuinely is capable and deserving of making it onto the grid, then I say bring it on as I’d rather see that than a pay driver any day.

  62. Barnard says:

    Two words: Andy Gray

  63. Ash says:

    It’s a longstanding assertion that humour doesn’t work so well online, I suppose.

  64. Ben says:

    What on earth are you talking about. Formula 1 is one of the most, if not the most, physically demanding sport on the planet.

    20 years ago it might have been a little different, but since certainly since Schumacher came along the top drivers have had to be as physically fit as the top level athletes in any other sport.And now, even the bottom drivers are expected to match that level of fitness.

    As for your statement: “I don’t think that any of the F1 drivers would establish any mind blowing times in any sporting discipline” that does not mean that they are not fit. Top level athletes in other sports have conditioned their body for that sport since they were a child. You could be the fittest, most physically able human being that has ever existed in the history of the universe, but that doesn’t mean you can run the 100 metres faster than Usain Bolt, or even under 10 seconds. His body, and the body of other 100 metres sprinters, has been developed for running the 100 metres.

    It is the same for Formula 1 drivers. Formula 1 drivers have better instinct because their brains have been developed for racing over a period of 20 years. Their bodies have become conditioned for travelling around corner at speed. If you were to put Usain Bolt in a Formula 1 car, and subject him to the forces that a Formula 1 driver experienced (without him having to do any of the driving) he lack just as much at dealing with those physical demands as a Formula 1 driver would ‘lack’ at being comparable to him at the 100 metres.

    To suggest that Formula 1 drivers are not top class athletes – which you said word for word ‘although it requires physical fitness, it doesn’t require a top class athlete.’ – is one of the most ignorant things I have read on a Formula 1 forum.

    For the record though, I see no reason why women can not compete in Formula 1 though, as the physical demands – although extreme – are different to traditional sports. Also, as women tend to be lighter this would be another advantage in Formula 1 where every gram counts.

    However, socially, the sport is extremely backwards and chauvinistic. The only highly visible jobs Formula 1 seems to give women are as a post to support driver’s number on the grid, as wallpaper to line the drivers’ walk up to the podium, or to stand there smiling at the camera and holding a dictaphone while the press interviews him. I find this totally disgusting a decade in to the 21st century yet whenever it is criticised those bringing it up are derided in mass with comments like “but it’s tradition” “This is PC gone mad” or homophobic insults which have no place in a public forum.

    Until Formula 1 changes its attitude towards women I cannot see any entering the sport simply because most of those at the top have a latent misogynistic mindset. I see this barrier as a much bigger barrier impeding women entering the sport than the physical demands or driving capability.

    1. Ben says:

      I posted this comment in response to another comment on the board, not as a reply to James’s article, but it is not showing up as a reply, rather as a general response to the article. I hope this is just a bug, in the forum and it will show up as a response. It was meant as a response to comment 18.

      1. Ben says:

        I must be losing my mind. Or the numbers keep changing. It was meant to be a response to the comment by Jo Torrent (currently 38, not 18) about F1 drivers not having to be top level athletes.

    2. Mike894 says:

      As much as I like to see attractive females, it disgusts me to see them standing around the grid looking like they’re for hire. On the other hand, they probably lined up to volunteer for that, so it’s their fault as much as the sport’s.

  65. Sebastiaan Hekman says:

    Interesting point James and can’t wait to see the first woman to arrive in F1, just to spice it up, silence a few machos in the paddock when she is outracing them. We have seen that females becoming F16 fighter pilots, so driving a F1 car should be no real problem for them. And F16 here is not a very low race category before making it to F1, it’s the other way around I think.

    About the multi-tasking point. Without having any scientific evidence I hold also the belief that women are better dealing with more tasks simultaneously, look at an average work place, office and it shows. Another thing James is that women do not complain that much when faced with adversity, so not so much wining as I have heard coming from a certain male driver Alonso and Button. I would love to hear a woman swear, giving the middle finger to Schumacher, that would put some heat in the dear gentlemen’s private parts. And when taken over by a woman most male drivers do not need adjustable wings, kers or whatever help nature has not given them. They will just use ‘curse’ instead of ‘kers’ and perform a do or die to show their superiority….. great racing comes our way I might think.

    On a more serious note James, it has been said before on this site, is there any way we can see on screen what drivers are doing in their cockpit that affects their performance? Pushing the Kers button, activating the rear wing adjuster, heart beat (remember when Senna had that on him), etcetera.

    Enjoy your weekend James.

    1. Alan Dove says:

      There has been women in F1 before.

  66. Gregz0r says:

    The only thing preventing a woman from being competitive in F1, is keeping the pace up, once fatigue sets in.

    1. kowalsky says:

      and forgeting the car keys at home.

  67. James says:

    I think we’re long overdue a female driver in modern F1. There are some decent female racers in Indycar, and I am very surprised that one of the “lower” teams doesn’t take a chance on one, if only for the media and sponsorship interest. Just please resist the temptation to put them in a pink car.

    1. James says:

      BUT I will add that they need to pick a good one. If they struggle, it will just lead to people saying that women can’t cut it in F1, when I don’t think that’s the case.

  68. Bec says:

    KERS and the ARW are less taxing than the AFW and the F-duct.

    The AFW could be used more than the ARW and KERS had drivers taking their hands off the steering wheel while negotiating corners.

    I think some drivers are simply getting their excuses in now … My reply would be “if it’s too difficult for you, then drop down a category and let a more accomplished driver have your seat.”

  69. Conrad M. Sathirweth says:

    It seems people took the ‘women are better at multi tasking’ line a bit seriously, I just read it as a bit of a joke regarding the amount of stuff drivers have to do in the cockpit (pardon the pun).
    What’s going on with that Danica Patrick who people always mention when the topic of women in F1 arises?

    1. Mike894 says:

      She was offered a test by at least one team, but declined it.

  70. GP says:

    For what it’s worth, I was a race car instructor for years and trained a few women over the years. Although women were outnumbered by men by a large margin, I observed a definite pattern.

    At the begining of training women were just as good as men. They understood the theory without a problem and could put it into practice just as well as men. But for a reason I never quite understood, as the speed went up the men gradually left the women behind. The women could be technically as proficient as any man but speed-wise they reached a plateau much earlier than the better men. The technique was there but not the speed.

    Interestingly, I see the same thing with Danica Patrick. She is a very competent racing driver but lacks the speed of the better guys.

    I just don’t know what it is but hopefully programmes like Ferrari’s will shed some light on this.

    1. I think it’s a deeply in-built psychological self-preservation thing. “Who would look after the kids if I die” is, I think, in the natural female self conscious. My sister hates flying and has quoted that very reason.

    2. Harvey Yates says:

      GP,

      I was in charge of my police force’s driver training unit and found that overall women were, if anything, better than men in the initial stages. They would stick to what they were told and, when putting it into practice, ended up better in all 4 main apsects, safety, smoothness, systemised and speed.

      I always assumed, without any evidence to support it, that this was cultural. Men felt attacked if they were told that their driving techniques were rubbish. We got the same response as men from aggressive females.

      Once above standard response courses there was no difference between the sexes that any of my instructors could tell.

      Advanced motorcycle courses were a different matter. Women were normally left trailing and the leaders were always male. This could be used as evidence to show how much more sensible and intelligent women are and to back this up all you have to do is talk to a graduate from the advanced motorcycle course. But do it slowly and prefereably with a picture book to help.

      My opinion, although not backed by any research of course, is that in normal circs any difference between women and men as drivers is down to nurture. It is only when every last 0.1% matters that differences in physiology start to matter and take their toll.

      If F1 isn’t testing drivers to their limit then it isn’t the pinnacle of the sport. If it is then the devil takes the hindemost.

    3. Mike894 says:

      A “Y” chromosome does tend to give one an extra “edge”, i.e. I can open jars and soda bottles that women larger and younger than me cannot open, and they get very frustrated over that, since going by physique they should be stronger.

  71. Rob 7 says:

    Ben’s point about women tending to be lighter, wouldn’t help them much in F1. With a strictly enforced minimum weight limit, the only possible advantage would come from a fractionally lower centre of gravity, and slightly more leeway with ballast placement. I’m not certain, but I don’t think that Indycar has a minimum weight limit, which gives a small woman like Danica Patrick a significant advantage over the mostly heavier men she races against, it would be interesting to see her racing on a level playing field.

  72. Bealach na Ba says:

    I am all for women racing in F1, as long as they meet the required standard in the lower formulas.

    Whilst physique is undoubtedly important in F1, other aspects are perhaps more important. Racecraft is something that a person either has or does not have, and can only be honed to perfection. I certainly do not have it…

    Some people may point out Jenson Button as an example of a superb athlete. Indeed he is, and far better than I (or perhaps anyone reading this) could hope to be. Yet he is nowhere near as good as, say, Chrissie Wellington (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrissie_Wellington). Read about her and be amazed.

    Another important factor is easy to forget: the ability to meet and greet, to socialise, to get sponsorship and deal with the media. This is important, even with good management to support the driver. Kimi always had problems with the media part.

    The problem is cultural: women are not being attracted towards cars or racing in the first place, and the few progressing from karting means there are fewer further up the tree.

    This cultural problem is all-pervasive. Fifteen years ago I took a (rather attractive) gf to a race meet. She was appalled by the behaviour towards her from some of the men present. I took my wife to the Festival of Speed this year and the atmosphere was, thankfully, totally different.

    These cultural aspects are all-pervasive. Let us take a related issue: there are no gay footballers in the Premiership (and only ever has been one). This is obviously down to a cultural bias which either precludes them joining the sport, or stops them coming out if they are gay. Briatore’s sick comments about Piquet indicates that attitude is engrained in F1 as well as football, although the anger they caused shows cause for hope.

    We should all welcome women (and gay…) drivers if they can do well. Along with tall, short, male, confused, black, white, Asian, etc. I want F1 to have the best drivers racing each other in a fair environment, regardless of background or sex. And if they happen to be an attractive brunette lady, then all the better… :-)

    1. Mike894 says:

      Personally I’m looking forward to how the Martians will do in F1 once we’ve got space travel.

      1. Bealach na Ba says:

        The Venusians will beat them. After all, they’re female and *hot*.

        Oh, and last time I looked we had space travel…

  73. Josh says:

    Satire and parody are wasted on the stupid so says some guy.

    James, it’s hard to do humour in text because people don’t get it. I thought it was a hoot, but English is my first language and I’ve an earthy Aussie wit. We’re used to the British humour ;)

  74. Nathan says:

    “It does seem as through there are plenty of pitfalls for drivers combining the KERS and ARW when exiting a corner. Do it too soon and the car spins. ”

    - Despite the fact that this never happened to anyone in 2009? People were saying the same things then, they forgot that there was saying you could not use it below a certain point.. hence why they never used it from the exact start, there had to be a gap between the car getting traction and using KERS.

    Oh and the ARW will only be able to be used at a certain point on the track down the straight, so they will hardly spin will they?

    1. There was no ARW in 2009, and apart from the race, it can be used at any time in 2011.

      1. Nathan says:

        My apologies if you did not understand, I was talking about KERS.

      2. KERS did not have to be combined with ARW in 2009 and that appears to be what your question was about. The device on its own won’t make anyone spin… …but the kerfuffle from trying to hit several buttons at once might, especially on the more user-unfriendly steering wheel layouts.

  75. F1Fan4Life says:

    James, this is a little off topic but, whatever happened to the women that used to be by the podiums during the trophy presentations and champagne showers? When I was younger that was literally the highlight of watching a race…when did this stop happening?

  76. Bill Johnson says:

    ‘As we all know, women are better at multi-tasking than men’

    Yes, well, we don’t all know. Care to back that up with a mention of a scientific study somewhere?

  77. John says:

    “As we all know, women are far better at multi tasking than men”.

    Actually James, multi-tasking is the art of doing multiple tasks poorly. The human mind can focus on one task. When multiple tasks are inserted, the results of each task gets worse.

    Case in point – texting (or sexting if you are a certain NFL Quarterback) while driving results in a greater chance of an accident. As does talking on a cell phone.

  78. Ian says:

    KERS button – check
    AWR button – check
    Brake bias – check
    Fuel mixture – check
    Nails – check
    Visor – check
    Front wing – check
    Tyre pressures – check

    Squirrel!

    KERS button – check
    AWR button – check
    Brake bias – check
    Fuel mixture – check
    Nails – check
    Visor – check
    Front wing – check
    Tyre pressures – check

    1. jonrob says:

      Oil temp
      Water temp
      KERS coolant temp
      Diff adjust
      Mirrors
      Pelican crossing.
      Shoulder strap needs tightening.
      Safety car light on? what target lap time?
      The whole list, including Ian’s is nothing but 2 seconds worth in a race, but it is almost done on automatic without having to think.

      On of the things they used to do at Brands after your first run in an FFord was to give you a form to fill in and enter the oil pressure and temp and the coolant temp. A lot of people said “Eh, what gauges?”

  79. Elliot says:

    Huge F1 fan since 1993.

    I could not care less what gender the drivers are. All are welcome if they can cut it.

    If she’s quick enough to race Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton and the rest, great, give her a seat and let’s go racing. If she’s not, jog on, just like any other driver!

  80. kowalsky says:

    looking at the reaction to this article, i wouldn’t like to be in a woman’s position entering f1. She would be eaten alive, the first time she underperforms.

  81. Bevan says:

    Don’t know how serious the tone of this story is but that woman multi tasking better than men thing is just absolute rubbish,given to us around the same time as the society killing feminist agenda which gave us women in jeans,contraceptive pills backed with single parent benefits etc.
    The F1 world has taken some serious hits to its popularity in recent years as we all know,this concept would be the death knell IMO.Haven’t seen Danica Patrick cleaning the boys up to date.
    Having said that,if there’s a female out there that really does have the speed to beat anyone then that is all good,but don’t ever let a driver in based on gender

  82. Chris-W says:

    I just asked my wife if this article offended her but she said she was too busy looking for her car keys to think about it.

  83. Steve Arnott says:

    I see no reason at all why a woman could not be competitive in F1. The strength can be achieved through training, just like male drivers, and I can think of no reason why a woman cannot perform all the other tasks required of drivers these day.

    The multitasking myth is getting a bit tiresome though.

  84. JF says:

    If someone can drive, the rest doesn’t matter.

  85. Vic says:

    Hi James

    The comments and replies to this article are actually quite hilarious, i’m sitting here reading all these comments laughing, people are taking this far too seriously!

    p.s. if any woman can get into or is capable of getting into F1 than good luck to her! The rest of us couch potatoes can just carry on Dreaming about it! lol

  86. Will says:

    How about Simona de Silvestro? she had some good results in indycar last year on the road courses in what one of the lowest funded teams and subsequently slowest cars, which was too underpowered to be competitive on the ovals, but its the raods courses where driver talent really shows through.

    Being Swiss maybe Sauber might take an interest? Only other female driver of note in indycar is obviously Danica Patrick but the being the opposite to Simona shes only normally any good on the ovals and thats largely thanks to normally having one of the fastest cars, so i doubt she would cut it in F1. Being american though she has much greater marketing potential, and Bernie has allready admitted he would love to see her on the F1 grid.

  87. Alistair Blevins says:

    The topic of women in motorsport is an interesting one.

    Whilst there have been few female drivers that have really made a significant impact I could probably name fewer who have been instrumental on the engineering and business side.

    Aside from the media and PR teams are there any high ranking females in motorsport in general (and equally the car-industry in general)?

    Ashamedly I cannot think of a single person.

  88. Blackbeard says:

    Its hard to think of a more commerical industry than F1.

    If you have the talent, and can get the backing, you will get the chance.

    There is clearly a market for a 1st female F1 driver. Lets not patronise either gender by making sweeping statements about gender ability.

    Even if they were backed up by scientific studies, were not talking about the general population. By definition anyone who drives in F1 is elite, male or female. The sole criteria is that they should be quick*

    *or loaded

  89. raffamuffin says:

    On topic, poor James, what have you started? Haha!

    Well it would be nice to see more (?!) women in F1. But really it comes down to the parents to support their kids and girls to be interested in karting at a young age.

    If those individuals had the talent to get through the ranks, I would hope that those managing teams in F2 and feeder series would not discriminate against those women trying to further their careers.

    1. leon75 says:

      Exactly my sentiments. It is agreed to have a carrer in F1 you need to start very early. We have all read the stories of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton Dad’s driving them all over the country karting, taking on difficult financial hardships to give their sons the dream of a career in motorsport.

      We see the father/daughter relationship in tennis quite often but they mostly come from poor backgrounds and the aim is to help the family get money from that sport. Motorsport is different because of the cost. You need a rich background or really committed parents to achieve that dream and how many families would push a daughter, and how many young women would really be that interested at 11 or 12? I think that will be the reason we won’t see a women in F1 for a while yet.

  90. Steve JR says:

    James you’re too early off the mark – it’s not April 1st yet

  91. Tim. says:

    This thread is the most entertaining in a bit…

  92. MercBrainbox/Brainiac says:

    Ha! Women are better multitaskers than men. That would probably mean less accidents and less excursions up-to-the-sky (yes Mark Webber) when they should have their eye on pesky backmarkers! Luckily the women should bring them back down to earth from the sky (excuse the rubbish pun).
    James, I wonder how the F1 fraternity would react if a woman wins the World Championship? Unfortunately, F1 is a sport perceived to be pretty misogynistic which is a real shame.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m not sure. I don’t think F1 is mysogynistic, but it would be a great thing for the sport for another woman to make it in. I’d love to see that. Ferrari say that they aren’t discriminating, but I will try to find out more about whether there is any truth to what was written in the 422.com story.

  93. Daniaile Jarry says:

    I find it quite ironic that ALL comments to this posting are done by men…
    I am a woman, a petrol head, used to race and rally. Ask anyone: I drive like a bat out of hell. Yet I always said: Had I been a man, I would have been an F1 driver.
    Now maybe the right time indeed.
    There are more and more women in racing.
    So why not groom a few. Unless you gentlemen prefer to keep it the ultimate bastion of masculinity.

    1. David McVey says:

      You can’t be an F1 driver just because you say you should be. You have to have the required talent and “driving like a bat out of hell” is no recommendation for motorsport. As Jean Alesi once said, being quick is achieved through the controlled application of speed.

      However, bring it on. Iid love to see if the girls could match the boys because it would certainly put an end to this tedious thread if nothing else!!

      1. Daniaile Jarry says:

        Tiheeee. Peals of laughter.
        The tedious thread sure fuels a lot of passion. The comment I prefer is at the very bottom of said tedious t, where somebody actually comes up with potential candidates who may have the necessary qualities, and not just a lot of wishful thinking and hot air!

  94. Nando says:

    F1 is the perfect sport teams already discriminate when picking drivers. Might ruffle a few feathers in some of the countries F1 visits.

  95. Mike says:

    There have been and continue to be some great pieces of F1 information on this site.

    There are and have been many really talented female drivers in areas like F1 (not in recent times)and Indy and other categories.

    I am really surprised that this topic generated so much traffic!

    Looks like i have added to it!!

    (Still the best F1 site)

  96. Racyboy says:

    I thought the multi-tasking line was tongue in cheek.

    “I’ve only got one pair of hands!”
    …has to be Webber.

  97. D. says:

    “As we all know, women are far better at multi tasking than men” …

    James you are reading the wrong books or talking to the wrong people. Women are **psychologically** able to handle multiple situations better than men, according to studies, not mentally or physically. The last two is what is required in F1, not so much the psychological part.

    Women have no place in F1 (as they shouldn’t have a place in NASCAR – Danika Patrick is a joke and only brought in to spice up what is otherwise a very boring sport) or any other sport that requires a man’s physical and mental ability.

    When a woman F1 driver hits a wall in Montreal at 150 mph or gets hit w/ Barrichello’s broken suspension rod, and gets seriously injured or dies, then people will think differently.

  98. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    The question is not whether a woman is able to drive an F1 car. Richard Hammond was able to drive one. The question is whether a woman could compete with the men.

    There are women that can run the 100m much faster than the average man, but it doesn’t mean that you would line them up against Usain Bolt.

    The likelihood is that the next woman in F1 will be a pay driver.

  99. Peter says:

    Oh dear. Some people really don’t get tongue in cheek humour do they.

  100. NorthernSands says:

    Currently, the only people we are likely to see in F1, in the short to medium term, are those that are progressing through the ranks of feeder series’. The only people that will make it are the ones with the determination, inclination and [potential] skill (or money).

    Regardless, we have to look at all levels of motor-sport, grass roots to the top, and ensure that no-one is discriminated against (based on gender, race, colour, wealth etc…). Only then will we see true representation of ability rise to the top and be in F1, be that a woman or a man.

    F1 itself may not discriminate, but if people / teams further down the ranks do, then all F1 will have available to choose from are men. They are the only people given a chance to progress. If that’s the case, don’t blame F1.

    As far as multi-tasking is concerned; I can’t do that as well as women. I can’t do it as well as other men, either!

  101. AlexD says:

    Stig is as woman:-)

  102. For Sure says:

    As I replied to someone, I really think it is unfair for women to compete with men in the sports.
    Like I said, there is a reason why we dont see women playing football with men or fighting with men in a boxing ring.
    F1 is a brutal sport, physical strength plays a role big time, the size of the balls and emotional control. All those attributes play against women. They have severe disadvantage in this particular sport.
    Why don’t they compete in golf with men?
    I am not being sexist, I surely do have a point.

    1. Women and men compete with each other on equal terms in equestrian sports and sailing, both of which can get pretty brutal and require emotional control. Cross-country competition in particular requires courage and lots of strength is helpful. It would seem to me that there is more in common between equestrianism, sailing and motor racing than football, golf and motor racing…

  103. kowalsky says:

    what would happen with a woman driver when they get to a arabic gp. Would they have to wear a burka, ot just a pirelli hat all the time to cover herself, and not offend men?.

    1. Good question. It’s too early to say either way because a lot of things are changing in the world…

  104. Matt says:

    I’m sick of hearing about womens ability to multi task. To me this “mulit tasking” seems to be more of a lack of ability to focus on one task and do it well.

    I dont think that there are any woman drivers worthy of stepping into a F1 car,there may be some decent women racers, but i think there will always be a better

    Women seem to want to compete with men at everything these days and everything in life has to be seen to be “fair” from the point of view of the minority.

    For example quotas for women in company boardrooms, quotas for ethnic minoritys/women in the police/firebrigade.

    What happened to getting the best man…. sorry, person for the job?

  105. veeru says:

    I don’t see that “this” is the right moment for women in F1. There is always a good chance for women but just that “illusion” that women are better at multi tasking than men doesn’t make any sense to relate it to women entry into F1.

    Plain dumb!!

  106. Tony says:

    More about Multi-tasking than women but do you know if anyone is working on thought control in F1? There are several groups working on this in the world of gaming and using it for say activating the rear wing might work

  107. earnst says:

    i really dont think women are far better at multi tasking than men or men are better than women but i think somehow men are doing better under pressure than women in general.
    you dont read much news about men who press gas pedal instead of break pedal dont you

    anyhow one thing is very clear that to be a f1 driver is much more than to be able to push several buttons while driving fast, anyone male or female need a huge natural talent to be a competitive f1 driver.

  108. David Hardman says:

    The modern F1 driver almost always is someone who entered karting at a young age, with the support of parents. I wonder how many girls are trying to get into karting, and how many parents support this? At the other end of the scale, whilst team managers sometimes say they would welcome able female drivers, perhaps the presentation of F1 gives a different sort of message — I’m thinking of the brolly dollies who stand in front of the cars on the grid, whilst the men do the racing. Pretty much the only other woman we see on F1 is that interviewer from Sky TV, who Martin Brundle always pushes in front of to speak to drivers!

    1. David Hardman says:

      Actually, I’m doing a disservice to Lee McKenzie, who did a good job covering for Jake Humphreys at one of the races last year. I also thought it was a shame that Louise Goodman wasn’t brought across from ITV and given a more prominent role. But generally I think women need more prominent roles throughout F1, not just in the drivers’ seats, if the sport is to be made more attractive to women.

  109. John O'Neill says:

    I believe that one of the fundamental reasons for why there are so few women in motorsport is down to this:

    Dad’s introducing their five year old son to karting is a pretty normal father-son activity, and like a lot of racing drivers, you develop your skills from an extremely young age.

    Do you think it would be seen as normal to do the same with your five year old daughter?

    I’m sure there are cases, but I bet if you look at the percentage distribution of boys vs. girls who take up karting at a young age, it will follow upward through the rest of motorsport.

    Other than that I can see very few reasons for why women cannot be highly successful in motorsport (indeed, I believe that you’d be able to tap into a huge amount of additional sponsorship and funding), it’s just that a higher proportion of men start earlier and have this head start of several years.

    Thanks,
    John.

    1. Richard says:

      I think you’re spot on here! The chances of females rising to the upper echelons of motorsport have to be limited by the numbers involved at grass roots levels. Given the opportunity I see no reason why female drivers cannot compete equally with their male counterparts.

    2. Research (admittedly from 1997) showed there was a bottleneck between ages 14 and 16; relatively speaking, two in five licence-holders at age 14 are female but it drops to 2% by 16. While there is no point where the genders have equal numbers of representatives in racing (likely due to the factors observed by John), if a large proportion of those interested are leaving the sport in their teenage years, then that would also help explain why there’s a problem getting women into the middle levels of the driving ladder.

  110. Michael Griffin says:

    The sheer amount of people who have taken this article seriously, and not as a good piece of humour, shows what a Daily Mail-led society we live in.

    Disappointing.

  111. JamesF1 says:

    Dear God. I know English isn’t everybody’s first language on here, and clearly not everyone shares the British sense of humour and irony.

    Lighten up FFS!

    And don’t forget that women have driven in F1 before. [mod]

  112. legend337 says:

    “As we all know, women are far better at multi tasking than men”
    Dear James,
    Can you please give some references of say peer reviewed research which supports this. Most women I know are unco-ordinated at everything. Except for some things in the bedroom…

  113. austin_f1 says:

    While I don’t know of specific scientific studies to support James Allen’s assertion here, it has certainly been my experience that women are better at multi-tasking than men. My wife runs rings around me in this area.

    Does this mean now is the time for a woman driver in F1? I don’t know that now is any better or worse time, in terms of ability to drive a car, than any other time. I don’t see any reason a woman can’t drive competitively at any level if she shows she’s quick.

    However, there has never been a better time in terms of marketing for a woman to enter any form of motorsport. Women in sports in general have never been more marketable.

  114. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Why doesn’t Diamond, the discriminating insurance company, set up an academy for women drivers?

    The could go halves with Sheila’s Wheels

    1. I suspect because part of their sales pitch is about safer-than-average drivers. They’d struggle to convince the public that motor racing is safer-than-average (at least in terms of number of incidents).

  115. JohnBt says:

    The DNA of men and women can’t be the same.

    In some ways we have similarities but not all. I’m sure it affects motor racing.

  116. Chris says:

    Nice one, James.

    Little tip to avoid the current flaming you’re getting… a semicolon, hyphen and a right parenthesis goes a lot longer in communicating sarcastic intent than our subtle Anglo-Saxon repartee!

    That said, the status of women in F1 currently is not just non-existent (drivers), but ludicrously one-dimensional (re: the few thousand Santander girls that often line the stairwells to the podiums).

    I fear for the next female F1 driver – Lewis Hamilton was subjected to some pretty vile racist abuse from some moronic groups of fans.

    The tacitly acceptable and widespread stereotyping of women, and all the banal, tawdry and threadbare jokes that follow, would likely make for a similarly unpleasant experience, as we have heard in other sports even at the commentator level.

    1. James Allen says:

      He certainly was and quite a few were caught in the cross-fire, I can tell you

  117. Andrew Carter says:

    This is all moot to be honest, I dont of many women on the single seater ladder and none that are showing race winning ability.

    I dont doubnt that if a woman comes along and demonstrates the level of ability needed to win races and championships then she probably would make it in F1, but so far there arent any, and that goes double for Danica Patrick.

  118. Phil Cee says:

    Before I rant, I wanted to say that I’m proud to follow an intensely demanding sport that provides a level(ish) playing field for both genders. It’s near-unique and should be celebrated. The multi-tasking thing is clearly something and nothing, James knows that all F1 drivers are made of different stuff to the rest of us and he’s being a touch wry with making the connections between two unrelated stories. Good on Ferrari for looking out for female talent – it’s no more an act of positive-discrimination than HRT asking for money, Red Bull preferring yoof or Williams looking for a Venuzuelan.

    I’m shocked that in amongst the hundreds of comments there is only one that points out that F1 uses power steering – something that the female F1 drivers of the past never enjoyed. There was a well-researched magazine article, that I cannot find to reference, about how Danica Patrick’s road course form was so bad compared to her decent oval performances because the weight of the steering became a greater factor on road courses. I don’t have any knowledge on the differences in the energy needed to apply the brakes in each series however, but the energy needed to work the steering wheel in F1 is less than American categories.

    As for female racers coping with speed and pressure… The 2005 Indianpolis 500 was only Danica’s fourth oval race ever and her fifth Indycar start. Despite an accident she came back to lead the 33 car field and only lost first place with six laps remaining. All this was played out between unforgiving walls at dizzying speeds requiring determination, precision and bravery of the highest order. Her two teammates that year were both former Indy winners and she trounced them. From 2008-2010 she has taken the same amount of wins and comparable points totals to her esteemed male teammates.

    Her sole victory was based on fuel strategy, that’s true, but so was Villeneuve’s Indy 500, more than one Ganassi championship and, er, lots of Grand Prix wins for Alain Prost! Patrick has had plenty of poles, so the oval speed is there. Restarts aren’t her strong-point, apart from that vital factor her oval game is pretty solid.

    The thing is that Danica’s junior career never pointed to anything special, it’s likely she will never be F1 material, but that is nothing to do with her gender.

    As for the people who question whether we will EVER have a female F1 driver – we’ve had plenty. Here is just one… http://www.f1rejects.com/interviews/wilson/index.html

    The video posted above of Bia Figueredo beating the boys is class! I’m enjoying watching the young ladies in Ginetta Juniors getting stuck in too.

    As for women driving round worrying about the kids they are yet to have – nonsense. No woman would get drunk, get on a plane or climb a mountain if that was true. Emotion is all down to the individual. I’ve yet to see a woman cry after stepping out of a racing car – I’ve seen plenty of men do it…

  119. AR says:

    Monisha Kaltenborn, Managing Director at Sauber is one rather significant female player in F1….

  120. James’ article makes me think this is the right moment for a professional audio-typist, or someone with professional-level audio-typing skills, to try to get through the ranks and reach F1.

    These days there are about as many buttons on the steering wheels as there are on the main part of a keyboard in an area that is, if anything, larger. Audio-typists often use pedals to control playback, which would correspond to braking and acceleration. The radio and engine noise would be not entirely dissimilar to the sound files and require similarly complex responses.

    Good audio-typists are accustomed to doing all this without looking at the keyboard more than necessary, which would help in a race car. Finally, every type of professional-level typing requires skill in spotting detailed differences in visual stimuli.

    While waiting for that professional-level typist (or maybe a really fit journalist) to break through into F1, if I were a team owner I’d be asking both my drivers to participate in a basic typing course (and then an audio-typing one) in order to aid their ability to adapt to the increasingly complicated environment that is a F1 car.

  121. David McVey says:

    The most important thing is the quality of the driving. As long as that is maintained they can stick Lamas in the cars for all I care to be honest. When I watch Hamilton or Vettel give it the beans in qualifying I absolutely know 100% that the car has nothing else to give. There’s nothing left on the track. As long as that remained I’d be happy regardless of gender.

    I would definately care if the publicity/sponsorship gained by having a Lama driving in F1 became more important than driver quality thus proliferating less talented seat occupants in the same way as pay drivers do. That would be inane!!

  122. Avoiding any political correctness I’m just going to suggest a couple of names racing in the junior categories and doing pretty well that may be worth a look at: Sarah Moore and Alice Powell. Although both are young (Alice is 17 I think and Sarah is 16 or 17) they’re both proving they have the speed and the skill. Alice says on her website “her aim is to be first successful British woman to compete for The F1 Title” and Sarah was interviewed in the Telegraph last year and said she wants to be in F1 so the desire is there too. Alice won the BWRDC Elite Gold Star and The Lord Wakefield Trophy, Sarah won the Ginetta Juniors championship in 2009 and has been karting since she was 4. So the talent is out there, they just need the break.

    1. Daniaile Jarry says:

      Now, that’s what I call forward thinking. Thank you “Josh’s biggest fan” for bringing these two concrete examples to the F1 community’s attention!

  123. Panna K says:

    Whether it is PC or not, whether women would make brilliant F1 drivers or not, whether women are equal to or better than men in any sport is irrelevant. Women in men’s sports (and vice versa) ruin the sport. I am a woman and I believe integrating women into male sports teams is nothing but publicity stunts. Men do not want them there because of the drama they bring. I don’t want them there because they are only there to prove they can play with the boys. That proves nothing. Men and women’s teams should be kept separate. Danica is prime evidence of that. She acts like a tramp in her publicity ads and then wants respect on the track. Not likely to happen. I hate watching football because of the female “reporters” who sound like idiots down on the field. They are there as eye-candy. Women playing on male dominated teams are not representing progress for women. They represent the woman who feels inferior and has to prove she isn’t by competing against men. If people really wanted to see women playing the traditional male sport, then women’s NBA would be popular, there would be all female football teams, baseball teams, hockey teams, etc. that are just as popular to watch as the male teams. Truth is, they aren’t.

  124. Bill Thornton says:

    This point in History is a good starting point for “select” women to enter F1 and other racing sports where its a “high g”, hang it on the edge environment…. however

    I have an Air Force background and knowledge of women versus men fighter pilots in fighters like the F-11, F-15 and F-16. Bottom line is YES a few select women can do it competitively just as good… However, out of 100 men pilot candidates about 25 men make it to F-15/16s… and out of 100 Women pilot candidates about 3 to 5 qualify and make it to F-15/16s… the rest go for transport, bomber, etc. Not that everyone WANTS TO BE A FIGHTER PILOT…THEY DON’T; some actaully want C-130s, KC-135s or whatever. It’s about the “Right Stuff”… inately having that thrilling “LOVE” of speed, controlled aggresivemess … and Men simply have a larger proportion of “the Right Stuff” than women do. Some women have “the Right Stuff” though as indicated above, though proportionally less out of an equal population than men…

    Auto racing by virtue of “the competition against the clock” will single out the women good enough to compete…

    Unfortuanately, the NAVY had several women pilots killed about 20 years ago, because a Governmental source “Quota mandate” forced the NAVY to place women into F-14s and some did NOT have the “physiological right stuff” Yes, they were trained and could pass tests, but when it came to hanging it out in a real life high G situation and a Carier landing, there were deadly consequences… After the investigations, it was determined that having the “Right Stuff” really does count for Fighter Pilots and Government pushed quota systems can be very bad… Today, the physiological Right Stuff” factors are looked at for women Fighter Pilots. For racing cars, bikes…etc the shear competition and the clock will be the quota system.

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