RACING

Drive for change: is Formula closer to the next rider? Obstacles to overcome and hope for the future

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W Series stars Jamie Chadwick, Abbie Eaton, Sarah Moore and Abbi Pulling discuss when Formula 1 could have its next female driver; Watch the W Series this weekend in France on Sky Sports F1, with qualifying on Friday at 6.10pm and the race on Saturday at 1.30pm

Last update: 22/07/22 06:37

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Britain’s top W-Series talent discuss the hurdles they face in their bid to break into Formula 1 and end the 46-year wait for the next female driver to start a Grand Prix.

Britain’s top W-Series talent discuss the hurdles they face in their bid to break into Formula 1 and end the 46-year wait for the next female driver to start a Grand Prix.

It’s been 46 years since a female driver raced in Formula 1 – and the obstacles are still incredibly difficult to overcome. But, as W-Series stars illuminate the growing talent pool alongside F1’s best, there is renewed hope that we are “much closer” to seeing the next woman on the grid.

Britain’s Jamie Chadwick, Abbie Eaton, Sarah Moore and Abbi Pulling are all racing models in the W series – and in a Sky Sports Exclusive revealed their reasons for optimism and realism in the face of women’s breakthrough.

The W Series – the all-women’s championship which debuted in 2019 to act as a stepping stone to F1 – has been a big success and takes place on the same weekends as F1, generating even more publicity and interest.

Potentially linked to the W Series, there has also recently been an influx of female karting, key to hopes of a future female F1 star.

It is this progress in grassroots football that gives many hope, although it will take time for these drivers to develop and have a chance to make their mark in single-seaters, let alone break a drought that lasts since the Italian Lella Lombardi. participated in the 1976 Italian GP.

Catch all the W Series action so far, as the drivers prepare to continue their charge at Le Castellet on Saturday, live on Sky Sports

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Catch all the W Series action so far, as the drivers prepare to continue their charge at Le Castellet on Saturday, live on Sky Sports

Catch all the W Series action so far, as the drivers prepare to continue their charge at Le Castellet on Saturday, live on Sky Sports

“I think we’re a lot closer to having a full-time female in F1 than we were, certainly when I started 20 years ago,” Eaton explained.

“Whether that happens in a year or two, I don’t think so. I think it’s probably more in a five to seven year time frame.

“I think the driver who will be able to do this is probably a karter at the moment. Someone who is young, has a lot of money behind her and hopefully someone is looking after the right track. so that she can make the leap through the different ranks.

“I am convinced that we will have a woman in F1, but probably not for a few years.

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton shows his support for the W Series on Instagram ahead of the British Grand Prix

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Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton shows his support for the W Series on Instagram ahead of the British Grand Prix

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton shows his support for the W Series on Instagram ahead of the British Grand Prix

Lombardi was the last woman to race in a Grand Prix, while it has been eight years since Susie Wolff took part in an F1 test session.

“In the next 10 years I would like to see a woman in Formula 1,” added Pulling. “If it’s not me, the next bright young woman to come along.

“There are quite a few coming up the ranks now, there are a lot more. I go back to the kart tracks, they always pass in front of you, they always get spotted.

“It’s a really positive change happening and I can’t wait to see when this woman comes into F1 because I think hopefully there will be one soon.”

Jamie Chadwick shares her career ambitions, while Caitlyn Jenner explains why she started Jenner Racing

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Jamie Chadwick shares her career ambitions, while Caitlyn Jenner explains why she started Jenner Racing

Jamie Chadwick shares her career ambitions, while Caitlyn Jenner explains why she started Jenner Racing

What are the obstacles for female hopefuls in F1?

As mentioned above, there is realism as well as optimism.

“I think we still have a bit of a way to go,” Moore said, with a lack of funding and opportunity some of the hurdles, while the W Series is still young in existence and has cars. much slower than F1. machinery.

Chadwick is probably Britain’s fastest female driver, having won against boys as a junior and won both W Series titles so far, but even she can’t come close to F1 yet. This winter, the 24-year-old Williams development driver missed out on an expected move to Formula 3, which is still two steps below.

“There are other hurdles,” said Chadwick, who is also leading the W Series title chase this year. “Obviously money is what boils down to, and that’s for everyone, male or female.”

A look back at the most dramatic moments of the 2022 W Series fourth race at Silverstone

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A look back at the most dramatic moments of the 2022 W Series fourth race at Silverstone

A look back at the most dramatic moments of the 2022 W Series fourth race at Silverstone

Chadwick also explained the physical issues female drivers face.

She said: “I know it’s a different championship, but the European Formula Regional Championship – on which the W series cars are based – is incredibly physical, and unfortunately in these championships it’s cars specifications so it’s the same for everyone.

“The steering wheel, for example, is the same thickness for everyone and everything has been designed around the average driver. So if you suddenly had a whole series of female drivers, the cars would all have to be redesigned.

“But because there’s only one female driver in a blue moon that’s coming, then it’s not happening.

“There are a few of you who have to get on with it, and that’s why we don’t talk about it, but that’s also what we can do, why isn’t there no women who make it through the sport?

“Because if you look at karting, there are a lot of young girls involved.”

Watch the W Series this weekend in France on Sky Sports F1, with qualifying on Friday at 6.10pm and the race on Saturday at 1.30pm.

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