Formula 1 Sees Growing Number Of Women In Exec, Engineering Roles

Claire Williams
Claire Williams

The history of women in Formula 1 "is a short one," according to Kate Walker of the N.Y. TIMES.

For decades, it has been a "man’s sport." But out of the cockpit, "things are beginning to change."

Monisha Kaltenborn became the sport’s first female team principal when she ran the Sauber team. Although she stepped down last month, behind her is a "rising generation of female talent."

Claire Williams is the deputy team principal of the Williams team, Ruth Buscombe is a senior strategy engineer for the Sauber team, Bernadette Collins fills a similar role at Sahara Force India and Marga Torres Diez is a trackside power unit engineer, working on the championship-winning engines produced by Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains. In the team factories, "growing numbers of women occupy roles in aerodynamics, composites and vehicle dynamics."

Female drivers, however, "are still rare." Former World Rally Championship driver and Int'l Automobile Federations Women in Motorsport Commission President Michele Mouton said, "The base number of women is still so low. We need to promote more in all areas. Then we'll have more women involved in all areas of motorsport, including competition."

Danica Patrick of IndyCar racing and NASCAR has "shown how marketable a woman in the cockpit can be."

Patrick’s reputation "may exceed her racing results," but her presence in the sport has "increased global awareness" of NASCAR. F1 currently "lacks such role models in the cockpit," but "has its eyes on" Colombia’s Tatiana Calderon, 24, who is racing in GP3 and is a development driver for the Sauber F1 team, and Marta Garcia, 16, now in her first season of single-seat racing with MP Motorsport in the Spanish Formula 4 national championship.

F1 has its own Int'l STEM program, F1 in Schools, which is "actively attracting girls into exploring science and technology careers using the excitement and glamor" of F1.

Williams F1 Team Principal Claire Williams said, "We have to go out and make sure that we're actively promoting Formula 1 as a career destination for students more, that being primary, secondary or tertiary educations." Behind the scenes, "women have long had a role" in F1. Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone had an inner circle of "mostly female lawyers in charge of managing the hosting, broadcasting and promotion of each race." N.Y. TIMES

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