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Simona de Silvestro joins Suzie Wolff in ranks of active women drivers in F1
Posted By:   |  28 Apr 2014   |  1:55 pm GMT  |  155 comments

Formula 1 is still waiting for the first woman F1 driver to break into the ranks on a consistent and competitive basis.

Over the weekend, Simona de Silvestro, Sauber’s development driver, got her chance to do some mileage with 180 laps behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car at a two-day test around Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit in Italy.

Driving the 2012 C31, which is permitted under F1 testing restrictions, the Swiss was limited to one special tyre compound from Pirelli with no lap times being sent out by the team, although the former IndyCar driver was impressed with the machinery beneath her.

The rules say that mileage completed in a non-current F1 car does not count towards earning a super licence, the licence all drivers need in order to compete in F1. This was purely an exercise in getting her used to the feel of an F1 car and to get some mileage. She will have a further opportunity to test in June.

“What impressed me most was the downforce of the car and the braking,” said Silvestro, speaking on Saturday. “When I did my first lap the brakes were cold, but even then the deceleration was beyond what I had experienced before.

“The g-forces are significantly higher compared to what I was used to in IndyCar. Overall, I’m happy with my first day in a Formula 1 car.”

After completing 112 laps on Saturday, the twenty-five year old went on to rack up 180 laps by the close on Sunday and said she felt more confident as the test progressed.

“Everything feels more familiar to me compared to yesterday, when things were new to me,” she added. “We made some changes to the set-up, which gave me the opportunity to get a feeling for those changes and learn how the car reacts to them.

“I can say that I already feel confident in the car, which is very positive.”

De Silvestro’s next test in the Sauber C31 will take place from 25th June to 27th June in Valencia.

The other female driver active in F1 at the moment, Suzie Wolff, does have a licence to take part in official sessions and will get her chance to rack up some more mileage for Williams at two Grands Prix weekends on Friday mornings in Silverstone and Hockenheim.

It can only be positive for the sport to have two women active on the driving front. There have been female drivers in F1 in the past; Maria de Filippis in the 1950s, Lella Lombardi in the 1970s while Giovanna Amati attempted to qualify for some races in the 1990s with Brabham.

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I was really impressed with her in Indycar – considering she was in a midfield team. Much as I like Tony Kaanan I think she would have been a better shout to fill Dario’s seat this year. But being a Swiss woman in Indycar probably is probably the complete reverse of the idea of a woman automatically bringing new commercial partners to F1.

Would not surprise me if she gets a race seat next year with Sauber. Ferrari are very keen on her apparently. Sutil can’t possibly last another season and if Sirotkin doesn’t impress this year and financial sanctions increase against Russia – she’s in.


The issue is plain and simple, it’s to do with numbers. They need to get more girls gokarting and racing at the lower levels to then filter in to F1 for instance. Even Le Mans which has circa 180 drivers per year only gets 1 or 2 women drivers.

Anyone remember this? Where are these drivers now? 2004!


Watch her onboard – youtube – she is no slouch


Simona de Silvestro has pedigree that justifies at least F1 testing.

Whilst I am sure Suzie Wolff is a lovely lady she certainly does not justify the same effort. She is able to “buy” a lot of exposure through her connections.

It does de Silvestro no good to be bracketed with Wolff.

Similarly it will do women no good to be promoted beyond their abilities and to become back markers – only reinforce the opinion of the doubters.

Roll on the day when a genuinely talented women makes the grade.

Mike from Colombia

Why not just start Women’s F1 and leave it at that.

Then we can forget about all of this PC nonsense and get back to seeing the best guys in the world race….and the pay drivers.


Why do women have to be F1? Why can they not have their own formula? Female tennis players usually do not compete against male tennis players, the same with football, boxing etc. I think sponsors would all-female formula attractive. I know it is highly unrealistic but it is not an altogether bad idea. I think it would be bad for women and the motorsport if a woman was ‘forced’ into F1 for promotional reasons rather than being there because she was good enough. The argument that if crap male drivers can get in then women should is probably offensive to women and the women wanting to race in F1. It would be interesting to see a woman race in F1 though.


So the new criteria for getting a F1 test has now become:

1. Make sure you are born a female.

2. Make sure you stay in shape.

3. Make sure you look pretty for the photographers.

4. Pose in some hot bikini for some magazines.

5. Get ready to test drive an F1 Car!

6. Dont worry if you have no talent or ability, as long as you’re female and look hot, you’re going to test an F1 car way ahead of people who are more deserving than you.

At times like these, I really do miss Max Mosley.


Premier class of motorsports has always been male dominated. I don’t see this as a biased thing since female representation in junior level racing ( be it karts or even saloon car racing ) is negligible. There are certain things that women are good at, and if they pursue it with passion, they do well. Motorsports is something that not many women are keen about., and that pretty much is the reason for lack of participation.

17 yr old Ana Carrasco in Moto3 has done pretty ok so far. If she is really good, she’ll rise through the ranks and maybe someday get a Motogp ride.

Having said that, corporates and media needs to stop making a big deal out of women doing well in motorsports. Case ? When Elena Myers won a race in AMA supersports, Suzuki Motor Corp painted their website pink ! So a male rider/driver with reasonable skills has odds stacked against him if he is competing for a job with a female aspirant with similar skills.

David in Sydney

It’s a shame that women even in testing roles is a big deal – there’s actually no real reason women aren’t in F1 apart from the lack of clear car career path (for all drivers, not just women), the single mindedness and sacrifice required to get to F1 and sexism generally in the lower formulae.

Not to be too serious for a second, it’s a wonder any woman wastes her time in motorsport considering the career prospects of most drivers (i.e. nil; only the very few get paid drivers, even fewer make it Internationally and fewer still make it to F1 or Indycar)

Must be largely a boys thing to waste time with cars..?


The only way in which women drivers can be positive for the sport will be if they are able to compete on equal terms with men. Unfortunately, the female drivers who have competed in F1 to date have been way out of their depth and unless the equivalent of a Michelle Mouton can be discovered then they will continue to be seen as nothing more than a PR gimmick.


Women cannot compete in F1, period. Just like a man cannot be the greatest at doing splits, a woman cannot be the greatest f1 driver. You cannot mess with nature.


On board camera footage from her test.


As much as a learning curve is needed in F1, the sport needs an “inspiring” curve. There are very few female students in some areas of Engineering and it’s certainly not for want of talent, but rather for historical/cultural reasons. The same, or nearly, goes for motorsport. What we need is the girls to get progressively more involved in F1, until a female winner – the likes of Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso – gets a seat.


James/Meadows/ Moderator?,

Where did my post about someone calling Maldonado a “psychopath” go?

I don’t like Maldonado as a driver, but is that the type of language that you want to allow to be used to describe people on your site.

Mildly defamatory at least but also lowers the tone of the site.


It will come. It’s only a matter if time. I’m sure there are plenty of women with real talent and never used it. I’m sure plenty of girls get into karting at a young age, we’re probably only just getting onto the verge of some pushing through with our latest gen.

David in Sydney

I keep suggesting to my daughter to try karting.

No way.

And that’s after boring her silly with my F1 addiction.

Her younger brother on the other hand can name any car brand you care to mention, spots a Lambo or a Ferrari on the street within 500m and drools at alloy wheels on cars at traffic lights.

Yup, must be a boy thing because my daughter is much more active and athletic than my son but cars? Boring.


I wouldn’t presume to offer you advice on parenting, but shouldn’t you maybe have suggested to your daughter that she try karting before you bored her silly with your F1 addiction? 😉


There’s no doubt that including the other half of the population on this planet in F1 is a very good idea from a marketing perspective. However, in order to attract more female spectators F1 has to adjust its marketing and image. Machisimo and Pit babes will disappear if it is financially prudent to do so, and not before. Female drivers will attract attention, raise the profile of the sport and, eventually, attract budding female drivers into the feeder fomulae. Only then will we start to see real competition between male and female drivers for F1 seats. How do you make F1 even more profitable? Widen the market by including females. How? Initially, include female drivers (regardless of ability), in F1 cars in testing roles. Raise the profile among young females and they will start to filter through the feeder formulae. Eventually you will get an Adriana Senna, or a Michelle Schumacher coming through. I look forward to it.


The sport is too dangerous to enforce a quota imho. If the ladies are fast enough, can compete then they deserve a seat. Having a female driver, just for the sake of it, makes little or no sense.


What about a female only Saturday race each team fields one car and then in a few years you might find a female racer that can run with the big boys on merit.


Even better, why don’t we get the ladies to qualify for the men?

Female participation and mixed up start grid: What could go wrong? 🙂


I think Simona in a Mercedes this year has a good chance at coming second in the WDC 🙂


I’m not sure. It’s not that easy. Webber was not able to come second in a RB, why would she succeed in a Merc?


Merc is a fair bit faster than the rest of the field this year compared to Redbull in previous years. Even is Simona came third this year it would still be good publicity for females in F1.

The next female in F1 should be loaded with dough to buy into a top team and ensure a decent WDC result. This would then pave the way for future females in the lower categories and not requiring them to do photo shoots to get a drive.


Thanks Lewis Hamilton. Nico loves you too : )


You can’t beat a good bromance 😉


Yes, it was love at first impact.

Insiders say he’s thinking about proposing soon 🙂


Like Pastor and the barrier?


Hi James

Are there any female drivers in GP2/3, since this seems to be the place F1 teams are getting most of their talent?


Bart Stroobants

There’s Beitske Visser in the WSR 3.5. Former Red Bull young driver, but the last couple of racing seasons weren’t kind to her.

This season she is struggling to keep up with the field, but she’s not that far of.

David in Sydney

An affirmative action strategy of Indylights, GP2 and GP3 sponsoring 10% (i.e. FREE DRIVES) for qualified women drivers would help but I fear the boys will scream unfair (like it’s fair now..?)

David in Sydney

I mean 10% of the grid bot 10% of the budget


She’s not a looker, so she’ll have to get by on her driving skills/sponsor’s fat check. Her driving in the .1rl was less than impressive, so her sponsor must have a fat wallet indeed. Or, perhaps Sauber can finagle some Swiss government money for running a Swiss woman in a Swiss team.

When one looks at the resumes of the previous AOWR drivers that made their way into f1, her even being considered doesn’t make sense if being judged in the same manner.

Just sayin…


Given the fact that formula 1 is the most testosterone fuelled sport in the history of any sport run by, controlled by, and driven by men and their supernatural ego’s and a thirst for power, profit, and position that is all consuming. how could it be at all possible for a women not only to secure a drive but to keep it no matter how good or talented they are history will have us know you have to possess so much more than a sharp turn of speed remember its easy to dance with the devil but it will always be to his tune and that I think is where most women would struggle how much of themselves are they willing to sell or even give away men are different creatures we are fickle, corruptable,and easily seduced by glitz ,glamour and the possibility having some symbolic tattoo’s women are made of sterner stuff they want recognition they want to be taken seriously and the opportunity to compete on a level plain field men and what we achieve is the ultimate challenge to most women and men are terrified that they actually even for a moment may pose a legitimate threat and us men will cut the head of any beast that threatens our superiority or position even in the cold light of day its nothing more than an illusion so while f1’s head is in the sand its arse is in the air been warmed by the mediteranean midday sun


Actually there’s this thing called individuality. There are some men who aren’t that competitive, don’t even like sports, don’t want to own, seduce, destroy, control, fight, succeed – there’s plenty of men with pretty low testosterone.

Conversely there are women with high testosterone (just dipping into my endocrine background here) and you know testosterone isn’t the sole determinant of ‘competitiveness’ right?

And we’re also getting this thing called equality. Which means as much as we don’t have to see men as the dumb apes of the sexes we don’t class all women as smart, respectable and risk-averse. There are women who love glitz, glamour, speed, risk and have all the failings and positive attributes (some) men have.

Neither sex has the monopoly on being stubborn, selfish, driven and determined.


I have no doubt whatsoever whether its now or at some point in the near or distant future women will possess the necessary skills to compete with a male f1 driver on a level plain field. The point I was trying to make quite simply is no self respecting man who is adored and revered the world over whilst receiving a small fortune would put himself in a position where a women could actually beat him in a race. Male pride is at times an uncontrollable savage animal that cannot be kept at bay even when competing against other men but there are wider implications to be considered. I will just focus on the one that I feel is the most obvious the majority of the most successful teams are legitimate road car manufacturers they use f1 as a vehicle to explore, develop, and push the boundries of safety, design, and technology to improve every single aspect of their respective road cars that are in the main designed, built, marketed, and advertised and aimed at the male market. I wholly accept women will be involved in this process in a limited capacity and there are a large number of women that drive nice expensive cars but lets be honest when was the last time a Ferrari was designed and built with a view to a women buying it. To have a successful female f1 driver the whole dynamics of f1 would have to change equally so would car manufacture or is my head in the sand without the glorious meditteranean sun on my bottom


“no self respecting man who is adored and revered the world over whilst receiving a small fortune would put himself in a position where a women could actually beat him in a race”

You might be right, but what else could they do?

If a woman entered F1 who was capable of beating the beats on equal terms then they would have exactly two options:

A – Suck it up and smile or

B – Quit.

You’re absolutely right when you say that it would change the dynamics of F1, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing 🙂


I didn’t know that Aura, but now that you mention it it makes sense.

Now – as another 6’2″ male – if you can explain to me why they use four foot midgets as their global customer for passenger planes I’m all ears 🙂


It’s an interesting point – but you’ll find that actually all road car manufacturers from Renault to Mercedes target female drivers as their core sales audience. Market research suggests that premium cars are almost always either chosen by women or women in a family unit influence the decision. This is why almost all production cars utilise the 5’7″ woman as their ‘global driver’ from seat design to pedal design. I know because I work with the chief interior layout designer for Mercedes.

I’ll admit Ferrari probably doesn’t follow this model – although as a 6’2″ male I can tell you some Ferrari’s are a tough squeeze!


You know we have this thing called a full stop right? 😉

I’m not sure if Simona or Suzie have what it takes to make in F1, but one day you can guarantee that there will be the day when a woman is found who is talented enough to get into F1 purely on merit and can out race the boys and on that day F1 will have to pull it’s head out from under the sand.

Or maybe it will just get it’s Mediterranean tanned arse kicked, but either way it will have to deal with it 😉


Comments are usually much easier to read if you use punctuation every now and then.


Those pointing out her lack of success in Indycar need to realize that she was driving the Indy equivalent of an HRT/Marussia/Caterham for most of her races.

I don’t know if she “deserves” a race drive, but I’m in favor of giving her the chance to earn it.

David in Sydney

Most drivers do not win races. Even in F1. If she can qualify and finish a race consistently without taking out competitors on a regular basis then she is a race car driver.


Let’s say averagely, a woman weighs 10/15 kilos lighter than a man (stats care of wiki) and losing 5kg of weight equates to roughly 0.2 seconds off a lap (stat care of a guardian article featuring BUT I quickly found), what with all the talk around weight issues recently, would that make the incentive to hire female drivers greater?

Interested to see if people think this is a valid thought, or completely irrelevant.

(I apologise for the shoddy data sourcing, writing this on the commute home)


It’s totally valid – especially with the taller and naturally heavier male drivers basically having to starve themselves into their seats.

Mark Webber mentioned that he was getting weak and dizzy at some races due to lack of nutrition. We’ve got drivers potentially giving up fluids in hot races to stay within weight.

Given that female bodies can handle g-forces as well as men (see NASA’s astronaut tests for that) and disproprotionate upper body strength is no longer a requirement for racing single seaters and it’s easy to see you could have a fully hydrated, properly fed female competing against men living off ketones and the last vestiges of body fat.

When asked what his perfect driver would be Adrian Newey once said ‘A 4 foot 10 woman with small hands’ that way he could package the car however he liked and not have to compromise.


It’s valid.

kenneth chapman

it really doesn’t matter what gender the driver is. just have the best driver based on merit, merit, and more merit. anything else is more ‘fakery’.


And of the male drivers in F1 which ones are there purely on merit alone? Even the most talented often get drives in better equipment because they bring sponsors based on nationality/media exposure. If we looked back at the past 5 years we’d not see a Lewis or Alonso being crowned champion but they still get paid far more than everyone else because they are big names for advertisers and sell well in their respective language speaking countries.


“fakery” – where you go to buy your freshly faked bread 🙂

Agreed, but some teams won’t always be able to get the best drivers so purely out of curiosity if push came to shove would you prefer a team to select a driver based solely on their gender or solely on the size of their wallet?

kenneth chapman

@ random79…i like it. fakery/ it all adds up.

in response to your query. gender or the cash? well it would depend on what my money would buy in the first instance. given that it was light on, then if, as an alternative, a female driver was available and she had access to vast amounts of dough plus she was half promising then that would be an option and the same would apply to a male prospect.

one would seek to get the best compromise however if one was faced with two gender options and both came with the same sized bags of mixed flour/water/yeast then,if the female was easy on the eyes the that is where i would go. obviously maldonado wasn’t chosen for his stunning good looks but the big brown bags under the counter certainly did the job.


Yes indeed they did 🙂


I just looked her up and found out she finished second in the first race of IndyCars last Oct driving a Chevy/ Dallara – making her only the 3rd female to stand on a podium,so shes obviously got a taste of success recently which helps boost the confidence to F1. Shes been around in Indy cars for about 5 years but no significant results before last year. Just hope she tests well because as many know there are a few very successful young drivers from GP 2/3 that missed out on F1drives last year & if she doesnt progress to a race seat then it may seem like another F1 marketing gimmick putting headlines before race times. Hopefully she progresses nicely in June


She has better credentials than Susie Wolf( who has her hubby to thank for her Williams drives).[mod]
Good luck to Simona she has at least raced in Indy car
unlike Susie who has had poor results in her outing in German touring championships…
Though Sauber is turning into a comedy team I hear next they are looking into merging a Swiss cheese with a Putin lookalike whos had a recent boob job & can juggle 4 swiss army knives while singing hits from the Sound of Music:-D


Impressive, but can Vladacheese drive while she’s juggling 4 Swiss army knives and singing hits from the Sound of Music?


I’d pay to see that 😀


I am all for bringing women into sport at all capacities. Women being mostly “pit babes” is a practice we need to slowly (or maybe quickly) walk away from. If they can be fighter pilots I don’t see why they cannot be F1 pilots, or anything else in an F1 team. Allen, please keep the buzz alive. Thanks!


Simona is merely an OK driver. She will likely not perform too well in races if she ever starts one. People will say, ” I told you so…”. Poor performances might set the women’s cause back.


I think Katherine Legge should be given a chance too.


she was with minardi


I’d rather see my favorite F1 driver of all time Juan Pablo Montoya get a chance to test a F1 car and hopefully come back to F1, rather than seeing some chick run around at the back of a field a few seconds of the ultimate pace. Let’s be honest, women do not belong behind the wheel of a F1 car, and while the liberal woman activists may find that hard to deal with, reality is reality.

David in Sydney

I have been watching Indycar this season. It’s not all bad. Montoya is showing that a fat 36 year old years out of single seaters is going to struggle.

Any chance of Montoya returning to F1 is a ridiculous dream… besides, he wasted his talent by being a berk.


If Montoya is supposedly fat, what about the likes of Mansell when he was racing? He couldnt even fit into the Mclaren! Anyway, Montoya despite his supposedly high weight, can still drive circles over most of the F1 drivers today in equal machinery. Him leaving F1 was the worse thing that happened to F1, followed quite closely, with Button lucking into the world title in 2009.


if any woman is good enough to be in F1, she belongs there


Scratch that – I’d say that if anyone is good enough to be in F1 they belong there 🙂


Pretty Devoted Venezuelans Save Anyone?


Indeed – so how does Pastor retain his F1 job?

Of, of course – those big juicy pay cheques from PDVSA helps…………….




Happy to see woman get more chances to test F1 cars, although being a woman – I myself am skeptical on whether a woman can really be a world champion in F1, when racing against men. And I come from a chain of thought where I believe if you are not good enough to win the world championship, you should not be trying to get a F1 drive. There are lots of sports where a woman can excel but F1 is not one of them. That said, I admire Simona for her efforts, and at least she is not going the route of people like Danica Patrick in the States, who seems to spend more time taking off her clothes for racy photo shoots rather than doing anything substantial behind the wheel of a racing car.


Since you are a woman who is skeptical, let me take this opportunity to ask you a question:

If you had the talent to drive an F1 car competitively, would you want anyone to tell you you couldn’t just because you are a woman?


There was a time when women were skeptical about whether they should be allowed to vote.

It’s called progress – get on board 🙂


Voting and racing F1 cars is totally different. Even female pilots have to qualify, take training like everyone else, and are treated no different to their male counterparts. I do not want someone to get into F1, just because they are a woman. I want to see the best drivers in the world get into F1, and if a woman can do that on merit, great. But thats not whats happening with the likes of people like the late De Villota, or with de Silvestro and Suzie Wolff who have gotten F1 tests based on some cheap publicity desire for the sponsors rather than any of them actually being fast enough to be in F1 on merit !


It seems that maybe I got the wrong impression from your first comment so apologies for that, but it’s good to hear that you do support the idea of female drivers having the opportunity to be there on merit 🙂


Why can’t a woman be good enough at F1? I’m interested in exactly why not just because you think it’s weird but a genuine reason? Is it not more likely that there hasn’t been the money or environment to promote female drivers from a young age? It’s not like F1 is a full contact impact sport like boxing that demands confrontation – if women are now filling test pilot roles in fighter jets the lack of women in F1 is surely just a statistical/sociological Anamoly at this point?


I think it, like everything else, should be a natural progression based on merit and not because it looks good on TV, or satisfies someone’s desire to promote fake-equality between the sexes. Let a woman go through the same path that any man would have to go through to make it to F1, meaning winning races and championships consistently at the junior levels, out-performing their cars and team-mates consistently, and being identified as someone who is bloody quick, and not just identifying her as a woman who looks good. Then, and only then, would she deserve a F1 test and possibly a drive. I dont think a woman can go through that standard consistently, however thats just my opinion. Maybe a woman will come along who will blow everyone away with her speed at the junior levels and make it to F1 on merit and win races one day – if that happens I would be the first to applaud, but I dont want to see a woman in F1 just because the sponsors or some executive in the FIA, or Bernie thinks hey lets get a woman in one of our cars, even though she will be 5 seconds of the pace.


Well most of these women know they have no chance of making it to the F1 grid on merit, unless they either shed their clothes for the cameras and get some publicity or buy their way into the ride by having some sponsors push their case. Where was Danica Patrick before she posed for SI and Maxim? Or before she did those GoDaddy commercials? The answer is nowhere. These women will continue to go the Danica route because its the only way they can get into a race car.


Why is it that chicks think they can do everything a man can do? I find this left-wing nonsense about empowering women to be hypocritical. Women cannot handle the g-forces in F1, they do not have the guts nor the ability to go wheel to wheel at over 300kmh, nor do they have the intelligence to set up a F1 car, or excel in the wet. You need balls to go up against the best in the world, and women are better off sticking to cooking or excelling at the executive level in a professional office rather than wasting space by thinking they can compete with guys in F1.


But the interesting point you made in your first post was to say that women will never be able to compete with men in F1 and that there are lots of sports women excel in but F1 isn’t one.

I’m wondering why about that specifically? You’ve raised objections here to special treatment but that wasn’t the question. What is it that is fundamentally unsuitable about the entire female sex that renders them, in your mind, incapable of excelling in F1?

That’s a more interesting question to me. Yes I understand all the ‘well she’d have to get in on merit’ arguments – they’re valid, but that wasn’t your initial suggestion.

As you mention in another answer – women qualify as test pilots – I’m sure there were lots of people who said that wasn’t feasible some years ago.

David in Sydney

There is no reason why not. It’s not that hard to drive a car fast, given fitness (I’ve done it) but it’s another thing to have the talent to win races (I haven’t done it).

A woman who’s little more than a mid fielder is not a failure; most F1 drivers never get a podium in their careers – I don’t know why people think a woman driver has to be a winner to be competent enough to race in F1 whereas it’s OK for someone like Max Chilton to drive competently (but slowly) in F1/



I do think it’s odd that we insist that the first woman to get into F1 consistently should have to be the next Schumacher or Hamilton or Vettel right off the bat.

Shouldn’t we be applying the same basic standard? If there is a female driver who can sort of match Chilton and brings the same sponsorship as his family set up – why should the obstacle be higher to that individual?


Agreed. Danica Patrick has to do those racy pictures and commercials because that is the only way she can keep her sponsorships and her drive. Based on her driving ability alone, she would only be driving a pick up truck if it wasnt for that publicity machine that keeps her in the spotlight.

kenneth chapman

@kevin williams. are you saying that if someone said to you ‘get naked’ and i’ll give you an F1 drive that you wouldn’t do it?

c’mon, a bit of reality please.

kenneth chapman

@ craig sherman……what a load of rubbish. if you choose to market your attributes in order to get a drive then so be it. it’s called being ‘opportunistic’. carpe diem as they said in ancient greece. so long as you can ‘cut the mustard’ who cares. life is too short to worry about being condemned for a possible moral shortcoming in the eyes of the thought police!!!


You know, thats the biggest problem we have in the racing community these days. No morals. If you sell your body to get into an F1 car, you have some serious issues with your state of mind.


Her career isn’t exactly stellar is it? Looking at Wikipedia she’s had zero wins and zero poles in Indycar and only a single fastest lap. She came 3rd in 2009 in the “atlantic championship” with 4 wins, which I guess was the highlight of her career. I am all for equal rights, but this is far from it- promoting a woman because she is a woman rather than because she has talent. Sadly the pool of female drivers is limited – there just aren’t that many female racing drivers and there aren’t any good ones – even the most famous one (Danica Patrick) is poor. That said, they can’t be any worse than Maldonado, so why not?


How well she stacks up against her teammates is the big question and maybe the only true measure. I am for having the best drivers in F1, irrespective of gender or financial backing. Perhaps there needs to be a more standardised and stringent ‘test’ to qualify for a superlicense – i.e. put them in a 2 year old car at one of the testing days(the same car for everyone) and require them to set consistent, competitive laptimes over ten laps – and a requirement to drive in one of several approved feeder series for at least two years. Then we would all know that the drivers in F1 are at least half capable.


She spent her first years in Indycar driving for HVM, a tiny 1 car team, the Minardi of IC, that were saddled with the Lotus engine in 2012, an engine so down on power they were black flagged on the ovals for safety reasons.

Last year she was with KV racing, replacing Barichello, a team that has good resources but are notoriously up and down with their performance, even with former champion Tony Kanaan, who she stacked up well against.

Radley Hirsch

Well put, Andrew. Ms. Simona was actually very quick and precise in her driving, AND we didn’t see any bone-head moves. She struggled in what I would call race craft. Many times she would be in 3rd place near the end of the race, a yellow would come out and she’d be swamped on the restart finishing 6th or so.

For the record, Danica’s win was because Helio Castroneves let her pass as he thought she was a lap down.


Depends though. I don’t follow any US racing so I don’t really know.

But if you look at the pole/win/podium stats for most F1 drivers, you’d find there are a lot of talented drivers without anything to their name. A lot of it is down to the team/car. Even in a spec series, the team still makes a big difference with setting the car up and the strategies ‘n’ whatnot.

You couldn’t look at Bianchi’s results after this year and say, “Pffft… still no poles, no wins, no podiums, no points even. Useless, shouldn’t be in F1.” A summary of results on Wikipedia or whatever doesn’t really cover the whole story.


I agree to some extent, but if in ten years time Bianchi has no wins, podiums or points, you’d start to wonder…

It would be interesting to see how she stacks up against her teammates. Anyone know?


To be fair, she and Bianchi are nearly the same age and Jules has had financial backing from Ferrari, been in european formulas with teams at the top of the respective grids.

If he does have poor stats in 10 years, yes we could start to wonder, but then why would he get 10 years benefit of the doubt that we wouldn’t give to a female driver?

If she were 35 instead of 25 I can imagine it would be fair to comment.

Yes it’s unhelpful to put a seriously slow female driver in just as a publicity stunt, but it’s a bit strange that we are putting obstacles up to Simona’s career that we wouldn’t apply to a male of equivalent experience.

If she can’t keep up with Max Chilton then yeah, I’d say, fair enough. But let’s see what she achieves in current car tests first and then make a judgement.

As with most barriers, the first few women in F1 are likely (just by statistical probablity) going to be also-rans rather than straight out champions. But then if you get enough women involved over the years basic mathematics says we’ll eventually get a female champion.


Even then, it depends. If he has 10 years with Marussia, and despite smashing his team mate every single year and getting as much out of the car as possible, but for whatever reason just never gets his chance to move up… well looking at those numbers still doesn’t tell us much. Obviously that’s not a particularly likely situation. But look at say, Hulkenberg. He’s been in F1 about the same time Simona’s been in Indy, and as far as I can recall, he has one pole position, no wins, no podiums. Doesn’t look like he’s all that great going by those numbers.

But yeah, like I said, I don’t follow Indy or any American racing really. So maybe she is actually just rather average. I’m just saying looking at numbers like that doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. I recall reading she landed a 2nd place last year, but for all I know that was a race where all the front runners wiped out or something.


Her results in Indycar are quite impressive considering she was with mid and back of the field teams. She was never blessed with top of the line equipment. She was on her way to winning the Atlantic Championship when she was taken out in the last race of the season dropping her down to fourth.


The C31 – best car that Sauber have ever put together.


Remember Kubica in 2008 winning a race in the BMW Sauber? That was a pretty decent car also, even if it wasn’t purely a Sauber, and more German than Swiss…


It’s a pity that a certain South American driver uses the C31 as “target practice!”

Actually Pastor has form with Saubers: Monaco qualifying 2012 and Silverstone later that year?

PS What is with Mr M and Mexican drivers???????


Silvestro definitely seems to have more going for her on racing matters going by her racing career to-date than Wolff who I’m sure is secretly thankful that Toto has the position he has at Williams.

Hopefully Silvestro can get the Superlicense this year and get a race seat either next season or the year after.


This is getting ridiculous. I am all equality, but it seems that the criteria for getting a F1 test these days is to make sure you are female, have a decent appearance and can look good in a bikini. There has never been a woman driver capable of consistently winning in grand prix racing and there never will. Look at Danica Patrick for example. Her claim to fame is taking of her clothes for magazines and wearing bikinis. She has one Indy win out of several years of racing yet she is popular with the sponsors not because of any racing skills or success but only because she’s a woman who happens to look decent. I wish F1 does not encourage people like Wolff and De Silvestro and instead gives F1 tests and reserve duties to young and promising GP2 drivers who deserve to be in F1 way ahead of these ladies, who are getting a huge advantage because they are female.


Hoorah finally a man who tells like it is. we have all been skirting round the issue of a women making the most of certain attributes she may possess for fear of been wholly politically incorrect. but in a world where been beautiful and sexy does bring much reward and opportunity anna kournikova is a prime example stunningly beautiful although I have never seen her in a bikini but she had the tennis ability of a yucca plant and went on to make a fortune. I don’t think formula 1 is that shallow or desperate well I hope not. but as we know f1 is a law unto itself and if they think its buy merit or some other reason its prudent to have female drivers then they will


[mod], I agree with you, it seems if you are female, pretty and have a decent publicity machine behind you, you can jump the que and get to race indy cars, nascars, and test f1 cars despite not having the speed or ability to qualify for the drive on merit.


Good luck Simona, wish you well! Great to see the ladies in a driving capacity in F1. If she’s quick enough, she’s good enough………..

PS Can’t wait to see tonight’s (UK/GMT 8.30 PM) BBC Panorama documentary on Mr E and his, ahem, interesting UK tax scheme where allegedly – allegedly – he has avoided paying tax of UK £1.2 billion – yes folks, £1.2 BILLION – as he paid those nice folks at HMRC a bargain bucket UK £10 million. This story has been all over the UK media at the minute, including the BBC F1 website. I suspect the Germans are rather interested in this investigation as well……

I’ll reserve judgement until I watch tonight, but netherless, if it is true – and Mr E denies all charges (what, really?) – it does put Mr E in, what’s the phrase, an untenable position with his German court case.

I will say, all the years I’ve been going to Silvertone, there has been rumours and hearsay about Mr E’s inventive tax accounts for years……….the truth will come out soon enough I suspect.


That does sound like an interesting watch. Such a pity we won’t be able to get to see it outside of the UK. The BBC are not known for their sharing but F1 fans are so I will keep an eye out for it on you tube


RE Kramgp: It was fairly damning on Mr E……..Only Eddie Irvine – interviewed in his Caribbean island! – gave some home truths on Mr E, and then only mildly. The programme concluded with the assessment that Mr E is a pathological liar!

Having said that, some of the blame must be incumbent on HMRC (the UK’s so called tax collectors)……… well as small European nations who allow money laundering and embezzlement to pass through their nations………and no it wasn’t Monaco where Mr and Mrs E squirreled away their money, but Liechtenstein…….

Anyway, yes, the programme probably will be on YouTube, DailyMotion or Vimeo soon… if you can!


I will thanks for the tip


Does anyone know who we write to at HMRC so that we can all pay 1% of our tax liabilities?


RE Andy: I guess it helps if you are a short bloke with a pudding basin haircut, unable to answer directly to a question, and have a couple of daughters wanting to spend, spend, spend…….


I’d suggest Dear Corrupt Opportunistic Bureaucrat…


You don’t need to write anyone but you do need to transfer your earnings offshore or into others names, not hard, but not worthwhile for most of us.


Hi James,

Just a quick question..If we do see a female F1 driver, would we still have the so called ‘pit babes’ and what not? I mean, would she have a woman standing in front of her car during the race? If a woman was to win a F1 race, would she still have the corridor of girls applauding her as she walked to the podium.

It does seem as though many of those practices are maybe a bit too old for modern times and have some sexist connotations to them; would they be appropriate should more women get into the sport?

Mike from Colombia

Nothing wrong with those traditions. Out come the killjoys.


I hope so. I would not call myself a feminist, but I don’t like them.

Sex is typically used in marketing as a last resort when your product isn’t good enough. It reeks of insecurity. To me, the grid girls are saying “well the show may not be that great but look at these babes!”. Imagine Apple using scantily clad girls (or guys) to push the latest smartphone. What would your impression of the quality of the product be?

I guess I feel it is degrading to myself as a viewer and I am almost insulted by it. I am not that easily manipulated, and if I wanted to view women the entire internet is chock full of them. Fix the gigantic run-off areas (that only generates controversy) on the new boring circuits instead of relying on eye candy to spice things up. Also, my gf thinks it looks ridiculous, and that’s not helping. Rant off!


You should have a chat with one of the Grid Girls and see how they feel about it…you won’t like their answers…probably


I think at Valencia they had grid boys!

Anyone, its so objectifying and degrading to see toned, slim men in skimpy shorts………….


Have you finally found something worse than DC’s skintight trousers? 😉


Nah, nothing can beat DC and his white jeans for “sartorial elegance!”

Check out photos of F1 in the mid to late 70s – all the drivers thought open necked concorde collared shirts and tight flares were “reasonable”…….


Most of the women I know who watch F1 do think it’s a bit sexist but they’re fairly used to it in many walks of life. I think having a female racing driver (even competing mid to lower field end) would get more women watching than adding grid boys. Although that would be more appropriate it is probably more feminist to let drivers in regardless of sex than to worry overtly about grid girls. It will likely change one day anyway just because society is developing – but the lack of female drivers does seem a bit like there’s a rich boys club (whether that’s true or not is up for debate but we are dealing with appearance here).


In the UFC, despite the fact that they have established women’s bantamweight and are planning women’s straw-weight, there are still ‘cage girls’ — because, you know, without a scantily clad bikini model holding up a numbered board, we would have no idea what round the fight was in.

I guess the same goes for F1 – without those value-added ‘pit babes’, we’d have no idea who was sitting in what grid spot.

Quite frankly, considering it’s 2014, it’s all a bit pathetic. The use of pretty women to hold up cardboard signs is inappropriate regardless of whether or not there are female competitors.


I know – F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport – those signs should be made of carbon fibre!


Good question.

Let’s get a competitive woman in the sport first and then that can be addressed!



Not sure that’s a valid argument.

That might suggest women shouldn’t have had the vote before we had a female MP capable of vying for the top job.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the “window dressing”, but it is unquestionably and absolutely sexist.



Who are you suggesting is bitter?

Nobody is suggesting that they should or shouldn’t be there based on their race or skin colour, so how could it be racist?

I think that the glamour adds to the show (even if the synchronised clapping is utterly and embarrassingly false), but then I know I’m a dinosaur.


Why your bitterness? These girls and hostesses do their jobs to make a living. Why exclude them from F1? Wouldn’t that be racist?


Dear Elie

The comment was made in respect of James’ remark that a female competitive driver would be required before addressing the issue, which is clearly not the case.

In respect of whether it is sexist, I doubt I could get away with employing 96 able-bodied, cosmetically-advantaged men to the exclusion of all others.

I myself would quite like the opportunity to stand at the front of the grid, but as a balding grey 50-something, I’m guessing I won’t be as easy on the eye.

However if you don’t think it has sexual overtones, then I think you may be a little naive…. and suggest you check out the US F1 grid girls.


Micky D your comment is totally irrrelevant because using your analagy the suggestion is that the hostesses,grid girls dont have or dont want the choice of being there before female driver is represented which is simply not true.

If you ask anyone of them they would be over the moon to be doing the work they do and promote themselves regardless of who is represented and further they would be rallying just hard as any driver to be given the opportunity.

F1 grid girls and hostesses in every country all appear to be tastefully dressed & presented. I dont think it has the sexual overtones of the past and its fair to say that girls add the gentle & colourful contrast to a male dominated field. Im sure that may change if we have several woman drivers in the sport. But for right now lets not get carried away as this latest subject is still about vying for a super license let alone dominating the field!


What if they had good looking men AND women holding the umbrella and clapping at the end of the GP?


I would like to see one or both of these women get a real F-1 ride, and sooner rather than later. I don’t care if it’s a publicity stunt or not. If F-1 can promote “green” (whether or not it makes sense) it can promote female drivers too. In recent years we’ve seen how women in good (and sometimes top) equipment measure up against the best Indycar and NASCAR has to offer. It’s time for F-1 to also give women an opportunity to prove (or not) their worth. Many would love to see a woman running mid-pack. But female a back-marker who increased F-1 race attendance by 30% would make Bernie and many others happy even if she’s only there by virtue of attracting big sponsorship bucks rather than driving talent.

Who thinks a female will participate in a race in the next two years?


They should and will get there – if they are quick enough.

If not, they don’t deserve to be anywhere near a F1 car.

Putting an uncompetitive woman on the grid just because she is female would be hugely damaging to the whole idea of giving female drivers equal opportunities.

Competition for a F1 seat is rightly fierce and no driver, male or female, should be favoured unduly.

Ideally this should also apply to slower drivers with moneyed backers but in the present free for all and without a budget cap that’s unfortunately impossible to enforce.


I think we could see a female pay driver. It is widely accepted that Pastor Maldenardo is only in F1 because of his backing and I see no reason why this could not apply to a female driver. Sure it would attract negative comments from some quarters just like Pastor does but the net result would be the same, and in the long run it could attract other female drivers who would then be able to make it on pure performance grounds.


Maybe that could happen, but it would have to be a large sum, even more than what Maldonando brings as there is already a surplus of male racing drivers with deep family pockets trying to get into F1


With all the recent talk about how the teams desire smaller, lighter-weight drivers, this alone makes it logical that women will be given a chance.


It would refreshing / great to see women in F1, the trouble is I dont believe there are any with real racing pedigree (by that I mean how many can you think of which won championchips GP2, F3, Indycar etc…). It is sad to just put women in for marketing sake – similar in fact to pay drivers who are not there on merit – meaning drivers with more talent in the lower categories are missing out

Suzzie wolf will be given 2 Friday practice sessions in 2014 (UK / Germany) and congratulations to her – I hope the team let her put in a quick lap. However my feeling is she is unlikely to put in a time which gets close to massa / bottas. I loosely followed her in DTM and she was mostly at the back… I suspect her appointment is for marketing ie just another form of pay driver


Not really…a development driver that works with the simulalator cannot accurately correlate it with the actual car, unless that person has acutally driven the car…she has to drive the car in order to do her job in the simulator.


What do u mean not really? of course that is the job of a development driver, but why do u think she got that job in the first place there are plenty drivers out there much much faster, so basically there is only one reason to employ her (marketing) which I think is sad/wrong


I think if Simona is even comparable to Guiterrez or Sutils lap times she’ll get a drive. I know Adrian Newey would love to have a shorter lighter driver who could get the lap times and he wouldn’t care what sexual organs they had between their legs as long as their owner was slender 🙂

I don’t get all the sponsorship hatred for female drivers – look if a psychopath like Maldonado can get £30 million backing just for being born in a part of the world that wants to sell socialist controlled oil – why do we have to hate drivers who happen to be female getting interest? I mean Lewis is great but nobody is saying he got his sponsorship because he’s half black. Just look at their lap times and leave them to it. If Simona can drive fast enough she’ll get the drive. It’s both good publicity and good for the team and the sport. After that who cares? She probably won’t win a championship but that’s the same as 99% of male racing drivers – we didn’t ban them until there was a born champion…


Milka Duno got some of that Venezuela oil money to race in the US. She did a couple pathetic Indycar years where she’d pull off after a couple laps.


Pathetic, indeed.

Milka was the classic case of a good-looking girl getting the attention she doesn’t deserve. That was probably a good chapter, though, because now everyone has learned their lesson; there’s a case to point to. Just a waste of money which didn’t do anybody any good (except her).

Simona is a good driver. She’s getting places on talent, and I’ll continue to root for her.


I think this is just an argument against Venezuelan oil money backing drivers as anything else.


I can’t see a female driver starting a race in the next 10 years, let alone 2.

It’s not just the physical aspect, but more a case of finding a female driver with sufficient talent, not enough women compete in motorsport to provide a viable source.

It isn’t just about money either. Other sports that cost virtually nothing to participate in, such as darts and snooker, cannot produce female players that are any way near the same level as men, and they are not physical sports.

I can see a back of the grid team taking on a female driver if she comes with a big budget, but would a sponsor be willing to take the poor PR that is likely to follow. If a female driver did what Maldonado did in China, imagine the extra media attention it would have attracted.


Couldn’t disagree more. These are all PR stunts, F1 does not NEED women just like it does not NEED men – it just needs good drivers regardless of the their sex.

And short of putting Beyoncé in a car, no female driver is going to increase F1 attendance by 30%.

The minute we get a female driver in a car who is there just to attract sponsors rather than because of her ability to compete will be a sad day for women and a sad day (in a long list of ever sadder days) for F1.


Good points

Look at NHRA they have a lot of female drivers now and they are good drivers all though a much more limited skill set than any other form of racing I think it is informative that. The real break through for females was John Force’s inability to produce a son. Bringing his daughters into the sport did much more than any publicity stunt ever did. Having The Force girls excel in a top team did much more to make team owners comfortable with hiring females than Shirley Muldowny ever did with her in your face attitude. I want more of the best drivers and less of the pastor maldonados of the word irrespective of chromosome makeup


I also agree with Wayne. The moment they decide on a driver because of gender will be a sad day for F1, as it will become even more artificial.


If you merely do the odds – the odds of even a male driver making it to F1 is huge, let alone how much that is magnified when considering how many women drive compared to men. So if F1 can bring more women to car racing by promoting a woman, even if the decision takes into account more than just talent, it needs to start somewhere. And how many drivers on the grid these days are not there on talent anyway? They are there because of money, so why not a woman being there for that same reason?


Wayne, I agree with your comment, if taken alone, but I think you missed my point, which was, “IF F1 wants to bring more women to the sport” then they might as well promote a woman who can cut it, she doesn’t have to be a potential world champ, but if she can perform acceptably, she’d be no different to half the pay drivers on the grid.


Why, why does it ‘NEED’ to start somewhere? That’s just as sexist as saying women should not be in F1. What women would want to be the token women? That’s just as damaging as having no women at all.


Spot on Wayne

When any driver comes out of all feeder ranks karts , through lower levels smashing them with wins , poles, titanic battles against the world’s top quality in all ranks then they deserve a drive.

Until then sorry I will not support any easy intake


I’m with you Wayne. Drivers nees to be there on merit rather than gender considerations.

Simona looks like the real deal though. Let’s see if she makes it to the grid next year.


I agree Wayne except for your last paragraph. There’s been a few male drivers over the years that have met that criteria.


Agreed. On merit, no one can argue. But for any other reason, we’d just end up with a female Alex Yoong or Gaston Mazzecane – which would be a disservice to F1 and prospective female competitors. To get more gender equality in F1, you don’t need a Danica Patrick, you need a Rhonda Rousey — which means just waiting til there’s a girl good enough. It’ll be a while.


I agree with Wayne, there has never been a female in a race car that was there for more than the publicity, I don’t care who you name, no woman has ever shown any potential even when they have been put in good cars. Maybe someday a woman will come out of the lower formulas with a long list of wins and get a good ride but for the forseeable future I don’t see it happening. You can call me out all you want but that’s just the way it is.


I assume you meant a female in an F1 car, not racing in general. If not, you’re just plain wrong.


Next two years, I doubt it. Maybe a Friday practice towards the end of the season for one of the midfield/back marker teams. The drivers acknowledge that driving the cars is less physically demanding than in the recent past though, that should help level the playing field between men and women.

Danica Patrick would have been a great addition to F1, and I think she would have been competitive if not quite race winning material; that time looks to have passed though.


“…If not quite race winning material”. You do realize that Danica Patrick never won even a Formula Ford race? In fact, she had never won a car race of any type, in a seven year career, before her elevation to Indy Car. Danica Patrick has (had) no business in F1, and it would have been a serious mistake had F1 pushed for her further elevation.


She showed that in a fast car she could win races, that’s enough for me. I can’t hand on heart say that swapping her in for one of the journeyman drivers on the grid would have upset me, even if in terms of pure pace she was behind.

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