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One Formula, Diverse Races!

November 27, 2011

Whoever said when Singaporeans drive their Ferraris on Singapore roads, one step on the accelerator and they end up in the sea! Whoever said India and F1! Whoever said F1 and women drivers! The first two, though seemingly impossible, did eventually happen. For those who believe the latter will never happen, there is some interesting history waiting to repeat!

Singa Roar:

After four successful races, Singapore is today the most dramatic of racing theatres on the F1 circuit, the only night race till date. The Lion City roars as the colorful cars zip around the brilliantly dazzling city streets. Apart from the road blocks, complaining cabbies, soaring hotel fares – for three days each year everything in the island nation, other than the race cars, comes to a stand-still.

In so many ways the F1 theatre epitomizes Singapore racing ahead of the pack in each and every field. A centre stage and dynamo for everything awe-inspiring. A venue so compelling that no event manager can afford to give it a miss.

Force India:

The inaugural Indian GP raised many an eyebrow. Despite all its heat and dust, it drew a record crowd and demonstrated the ability to commercially host and perhaps sustain up to 4 races a year, at multiple locations.

It all started with the coming of age of Indian race drivers, sponsors, racing team, fan following and software powering the racing technology. A venue was but a logical progression. For a change, cricket was banished from headline news and sport pages. There was even talk of more go-kart race tracks to nurture budding race drivers. Bollywood converged at the Buddh race circuit. Ferrari and Tendulkar were no longer synonymous. Every roadside driver in whatsoever jam and road condition, now had an aspiration – to make an F1 circuit out of Indian roads and a prancing horse of his or her four and even three wheeler!

Increasing Asian locale and the growing BRIC power drove the g-force in this direction. The seven sisters Japan; Korea; China; Malaysia; Singapore; Abu Dhabi; Bahrain found an eighth in India, leaving only Russia outside the BRIC quadrant. With the Black Sea resort Sochi signed up from 2014, this cementing would be complete, too.

History to repeat:

For the incredulous lot – five women racing drivers have indeed entered at least one GP, although only two of them ever qualified and started a race. Maria Teresa De Filippis (1958 Monaco GP) was the first woman to compete (Maserati and Behra Porsche). It was Lella Lombardi who competed in the most races. Seventeen entries and twelve starts (March, RAM & Williams). She was also the first woman to score points (1975, Spanish GP).

While Nascar has seen the girl power on rise, what chance for a future female F1 star? It’s been a while since Danica Patrick has been linked with a move to F1. Talented German Touring Car star Susie Stoddart has been talked about too. Says David Coulthard, “One of the reasons there are no female competitors is that boys are encouraged to get involved at an early age. More men get into it, because more boys get into it.”

Today everyone’s talking about Monisha Kaltenborn, F1’s most high profile and influential woman – CEO, Team Sauber. Kaltenborn has also been involved in bringing forward the attitude towards women in the sport. “I think people not teams but others especially media, they don’t ask a woman a question relating to performance.”

“The questions I get are normally very strategic about the company, the team, where F1 is going but never how the race was and what I feel about the drivers. But that’s changing now. It’s interesting to see how people take a while to get used to these kinds of questions to women.”

Realising the gender gap needed to be closed, the sport’s governing body, FIA, set up the Women and Motorsports Commission last year, where Kattenborn is taking a leading role.

“We are realizing that to a certain age there are a lot of young girls driving in car series and then suddenly, when it gets into the next category, it drops off. A lot of that is to do with the whole social set up they have.”

Chequered flag:

FIA big boss Bernie Ecclestone has even said a woman could be his successor! So what does the future hold? Lot more Asian flavor in the races, increasing BRIC power and not just women back into the car cockpits but driving the F1 itself!! Watch-out for the new roar!!!

From → Articles

2 Comments
  1. I like the historical background to female F1 drivers – learnt something new. It will be interesting to see in which driving seat diversity develops fastest – the one in the car or the one deciding who sits in the car.

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