Why Bernie's women-only F1-style series just might work

Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion of a female-only Formula 1-style racing series has met with derision in most quarters. But Pablo Elizalde thinks we should take the idea seriously...

Why Bernie's women-only F1-style series just might work
Susie Wolff, Williams Development Driver
Susie Wolff, Williams FW37 Development Driver
Susie Wolff, Williams FW37 Development Driver
Susie Wolff, Williams FW37 Development Driver
Susie Wolff, Williams FW37 Development Driver
Susie Wolff, Williams Development Driver
Susie Wolff, Williams Development Driver signs autographs for the fans
Susie Wolff, Williams FW36 Development Driver runs slowly back to the pits on her installation lap
Susie Wolff, Williams FW36 Development Driver
Susie Wolff, Williams F1 Team third driver
(L to R): Valtteri Bottas, Williams with Felipe Massa, Williams and Susie Wolff, Williams Development Driver
(L to R): Susie Wolff, Williams Development Driver with Alex Lynn, Williams Development Driver

It has become almost a tradition to have a controversy every time Bernie Ecclestone speaks to the media about his ideas to make Formula 1 more appealing to the fans. 

The F1 supremo's long list of suggestions has ranged from artificial rain in the races, to medals for the winners, to shortcuts to help overtaking, to awarding points in qualifying. The examples run and run.

The latest controversy has erupted after the Malaysian Grand Prix, where Ecclestone suggested an F1-style championship only for female racers. 

"I thought it would be a good idea to give them a showcase," Ecclestone told The Telegraph. "For some reason, women are not coming through – and not because we don't want them.  

"Of course we do, because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors." 

A harsh reception to the concept

The suggestion, as usual in recent times, has not been well received.  

Susie Wolff, the only current female racer with an active role in a Formula 1, laughed off the idea, and she has not been the only professional driver to do so. 

"Why would I ever look for a race where I was only competing against women?" Wolff said. 

"I can hand on heart say it would not interest me at all to win such a race. I would rather not be in the race because what am I winning? A race where they've just looked for any girl to make a grid up." 

She's right, of course.  

Or is she? 

Not enough women in racing

Wolff's comments highlight the current problem with women in racing: there are not enough of them, and very few have the results to justify a position at the top level, let alone to be the best at it.  

Using other sports that require superior physical strength as an example may seem pointless in this case, since both men and women are equal once the visor goes down.  

Not many women, if any, could cut it with the best tennis, football or basketball players in the world. Most women would agree with that. 

And yet, there are plenty of female tennis, football and basketball players out there, not only having successful careers, but also acting as role models to young girls all over the world.  

Thanks to women-only competitions, there has to be more girls who think a career in sports is possible, and it's only logical to think that the more people competing, the stronger the competition will become.  

Why motorsport is different

Racing is different, yes, because there are cars involved, and physical strength is not going to make a big difference because a woman is perfectly capable of meeting the requirements to compete in Formula 1.  

But in the same way the sports reserved exclusively for women are helping set new benchmarks, and increase the number of professional female athletes, a female-only version of a racing series would boost the chances of more women taking racing seriously as a career choice.  

Wolff is a good role mode. She has shown decent pace every time she's been out sharing the track with the best drivers in the world, and has raced against them throughout her career – right from karting.

But a few practice outings a year is not enough to show that a woman can be successful in Formula 1 or in any other form of racing, really.   

An idea for an imperfect world

In an ideal world, there would be as many female as male racers, and they would be fighting it out on the track regardless of their gender.  

And there is no doubt that the female drivers angry at Ecclestone's suggestion could be capable of competing at the highest level. There is no denying that.  

But the world is not perfect, and the only way to have more successful female racers is to have more female racers. That applies to everything in life.  

How many boys start their racing careers with the clear goal of reaching F1, aware that if they don't make it, they can still have a successful career in other series? 

Having a female-only series would not be about discriminating women, but about increasing the size and the strength of a group that is in an overwhelming minority right now.  

Then there would be more, stronger female racers who would push each other to be the best among them, and perhaps end up becoming better than their male counterparts.  

There is no need for the series to be an alternative to F1, and Wolff or anyone who sees it as a lesser competition could pass on it and use the traditional route to try to reach the top instead.  

As a plan to get more women in racing, it might just work. 

Maybe, just maybe, Ecclestone is onto something this time. 

shares
comments
Williams duo admit Ferrari a lot quicker
Previous article

Williams duo admit Ferrari a lot quicker

Next article

Trulli would choose Vettel over Alonso

Trulli would choose Vettel over Alonso
Load comments
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Prime

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021