Why Are there No Female F1 Drivers? (Explained)

Why Are there No Female F1 Drivers

Formula 1 has been known to be a man’s sport for decades because of the little number of female drivers in the sport. Few women have participated and made success but the majority of women have tried to get into it but they did not qualify at all.

Motor racing is not gender-bound, males and females should be provided with equal opportunities to participate in Formula One. Therefore, why are there no female F1 drivers?

There are no female Formula 1 drivers due to difficulty in getting sponsorship, lack of interest or passion, parents’ blessings, etc.

Are Female Drivers Allowed in F1?

Of course, female drivers are allowed in Formula One. I can’t blame you for thinking female drivers are not allowed in Formula One due to the minute number of females in the sport at the moment.

Many females do not participate in Formula One for certain reasons discussed later in this article. But you can see a female driver as a test driver often. Female drivers prefer to participate in non – competitive testing sessions with professional Formula One teams.

One of the popular test drivers is Susie Wolff, the wife of Toto Wolff. In 2012, she was signed by Williams. She was the test and developmental driver for the team. She also holds the record as the first woman to participate in a Formula One participate at the British GP.

Many female drivers have actually participated in testing right from 2002. Jamie Chadwick was the last woman to be signed as a test driver in 2019. She was signed by Williams as well.

Are there Female F1 Drivers?

Female drivers in Formula One are not a frequent sight. You might be thinking there has been no female Formula one driver but there has been. From the start of the World Championship in 1950, five women have entered at least one race.

Though, only two female drivers have ever qualified to start a race. There have been five female drivers who have gotten into a Grand Prix before. They are:

  • Lella Lombardi
  • Desire Wilson
  • Maria Teresa de Filippis
  • Giovanna Amati
  • Divina Galicia

Of these five courageous women, only two, Lella Lombardi and Maria Teresa have started a race.

Lella Lombardi is arguably the most successful female driver ever. She got into a total of 17 races and started 12 of them. That is quite impressive considering it’s a female.

She is the only female driver to have scored points in Formula One race. Her best finish was at the 1975 Spanish GP when she finished 6th.

Maria Teresa got into five races and started in three of them. She got her best finish at the 1958 Belgian GP when she finished 10th.

Why Are There No Female F1 Drivers?

It is a misfit that there have been no female F1 drivers in the championship for more than 30 years, what could be the cause of this?

Formula One and motor racing in particular is a very unique sport. It is probably the ONLY sport in the world where both genders can compete equally.

No one cares about the gender of the person driving the car. What matters is the car getting around the circle in the shortest possible time. Despite this, no female has competed in the Grand Prix since the 1970s.

Of course, female drivers have been used for testing and development, but why has there been no female driver competing at the Grand Prix?

Two women mentioned earlier in this article, Desire Wilson and Divina Galicia tried to qualify for races in the 1970s and 1980s, but their bids turned out to be unsuccessful.

When you think about it and do the statistics, it is a shameful thing for Formula One that only TWO women have ever qualified and started a race out of the 770 drives to have started a race in F1.

What could be wrong? Why is this so?

Money/Lack of Sponsorship

Money is the reason there have been fewer women in Formula One in recent years.

Any aspiring Formula One driver needs to have sponsors. Sponsors that will provide a vehicle, the relevant training, and equipment to be successful at the sport.

Before a Formula One team will provide you access to any of its machines, a budget will be required from you.

You might need to pay as much as 500 million GBP for one stage of a season of British Formula 3. That is a crazy price!

Even participating in a season of FIA Formula 2 will cost more than 2 million dollars. So, you see, the money is really high, and not many people can afford to churn out that large amount.

Because it is really hard to raise this budget, many aspiring Formula One drivers (men and women) go elsewhere in their bid to be successful in sports.

There is another angle to why there are no female F1 drivers though… Right from time Formula One has been seen as a man’s sport. And that is not the case in reality because a few women have participated in the sport.

Another reason there are no female Formula One drivers is that women were not motivated to join any kind of motorsport until recent years.

There has been a dearth in participation of female role models and so it was never seen as an attractive sport for females to join.

W series has been introduced as a support race for Formula One and since then, there has been a focus on the development of female drivers in the sport. It is possible that there will be more female drivers in Formula One in the future.

Lack of Interest

A reason why there are no female drivers in Formula One is a lack of interest. To get into Formula One, you need to start early. And so, any driver that wants to make it in F1 needs passion and zeal for the sport right from a young age.

In September 2021, a report suggested that only 3% of females in the United States are passionate fans of Formula One. 14% of the respondents were male fans, and 61% of men said they weren’t fans. A whopping 84% of respondents said they were not fans at all.

What this shows is that more women in the United States have no interest at all in Formula One as compared to men.

What Can Be Done to Encourage Women to Join F1 Drivers?

The best way to solve the issue of raising a budget will be to be picked up by a team’s junior program. This means that females should be encouraged and advised right from childhood about the benefits of being an F1 driver.

With this, they can start learning the sport and they might end up being scouted by a team’s junior program. This will solve the problem of budget.

Another thing is to have female role models in motor racing as a whole. If there are female figures to look up to in the sport, more females will be encouraged to join Formula One.

Sponsors should show women that they are interested to sponsor women if any of them are ready to become F1 drivers. This will help encourage women to join the motorsport knowing fully well that sponsors will never be the problem as long as they are good.

There is no need to encourage your daughter to start training to become an F1 driver when she knows she will never become one as a result of a lack of sponsors.

Conclusion

There have been no female Formula 1 drivers for different reasons. Many female drivers have tried to go into the competitive sport but there has been no success for most of them. Presently, it is not easy for women to get into Formula One but in the nearest future, we can expect to see more female drivers in Formula One.