Opinion: Why Ecclestone gets last laugh over Jorda's '12-second' spat


Whether you love her or loathe her, there is one thing you have to say about Carmen Jorda: she's been good for the Formula 1 box office this week.

Before a wheel has turned on a 2016 grand prix car, our first driver spat of the year has already grabbed the headlines – and it is between two people who are unlikely to be getting behind the wheel of F1 machinery at all this year.

Marco Sorensen's public outburst against Jorda – and that infamous claim she was 12 seconds off him in the Lotus simulator – has attracted the kind of coverage that would often be reserved for the most ugliest of world championship head-to-heads.

Jorda's responses – and the voices from both camps in both the media and on Twitter – have served up an F1 soap opera, and enlivened a week where there been little else to talk about with F1 still yet to emerge from its winter hibernation.

Sure, GP2 and WSR race winner Sorensen's frustrations at seeing his own F1 career stall while that of Jorda – whose junior single seater achievements have been lacking – is still ongoing are fully understandable. But equally her presence at the team has not been at the expense of others.

Jorda and her bosses are well aware of her limitations, and are not deluded enough to think that given a fair crack at it she would be racing wheel-to-wheel with Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

That Dean Stoneman was able to win first time out in a GP3 car that she was regularly three to four seconds off the pace in, tells us plenty about where things stand.

But she does want an opportunity to further her racing career; has been willing to spend time working in the Lotus simulator and quite likes her involvement in marketing, promotion and corporate entertainment over grand prix weekends.

Whether or not she will even end up with an actual run in an F1 car remains to be seen (and will boil down to if there is financial backing there to support it), but who are we to deny someone their dreams simply because we don't like it?

And it certainly beats an office job.

Is it fair that Jorda's path to a role with Lotus and subsequently Renault has been eased by family backing and good looks (and come despite lack of results) – while other more talented rivals have been shunned away? Probably not.

But sometimes life isn't fair, and you can spend your time being bitter about it, or you can just get on and make the most of the opportunities you have.

Ultimately, Jorda's role in this week's soap opera has actually helped highlight that there are a world of highly talented drivers out there who don't get an opportunity.

And whether she deliberately intended to or not, the controversy surrounding her involvement with Lotus and now Renault only serves to further keep the spotlight on women in motorsport.

For if the role of women is being talked about regularly (whether positively or negatively), that can only help inspire the next generation of females to get involved – either on track or in the pitlane – and add further power to Susie Wolff's Dare To Be Different campaign.

Does it matter than Jorda is not going to be battling for F1 podiums in the future? Not really. How many Olympic athletes got inspired to show they could do things better than Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards or the 'Cool Runnings' Jamaican Bobsleigh Team who never reached anywhere near the peaks of success in their own careers?

I'm always a great believer that all publicity is good publicity, and at a time when F1 has been poor at marketing itself over the winter, we should at least relish the fact that Jorda has helped generate enough of a stir for F1 to remain in the headlines and social media at this quiet time.

As Oscar Wilde once said: "There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

It's the same for F1 too. Much better for fans to be fired up and empowered to join the arguments about who is right and wrong in this debate, than simply go off and follow another sport.

Jorda may not ever make it on to the F1 grid (new superlicence rules will all but ensure that), but as long as she is around the paddock she will never not be talked about.

And in dividing opinion at all levels of the sport, that's generates interest and will get even more people talking about grand prix racing. That's not such a bad thing.

It's no wonder then the sport's ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone is doing all he can to help her. He must have loved the fun of the last few days.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Carmen Jorda
Teams Renault F1 Team
Article type Commentary