Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor racing, and after several efforts in the last few years, it is starting to become a more diverse and inclusive sport, although there's still a long way to go, both on the paddock and in the stands.

Can a woman be in Formula 1? Of course. A woman can be a Formula 1 driver and the next woman to compete in the sport as a driver will not be the first, as there have been female drivers in past decades of F1 racing.

Moreover, there are several female characters in the paddock today, working for teams on lots of different roles, from engineering to strategy boards.

Can a woman be a Formula 1 race driver?

Race winner Jamie Chadwick (GBR) Jenner Racing celebrates on the podium.
23.07.2022. W Series, Rd 4, Le Castellet, France, Race Day.

In terms of driving, the female racer that could be on her way to a Formula 1 seat is two-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick, who is currently on her way to a third title in the W Series, having won all five races of the 2022 calendar so far.

Chadwick has already been linked to Formula 1, as she's been a Development Driver for Williams since 2020. She's also been a Test Driver in Formula E, competed in Extreme E, and in the Formula Regional European Championship, where she finished ninth after scoring a podium and being quite consistent throughout the year.

In the past, two female racers started a Formula 1 Grand Prix: Italians Maria Teresa de Filippis (three starts in five entries) and Lella Lombardi (12 starts in 17 entries).

Lombardi scored points in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix for March. She scored 0.5 points for her sixth place as the race was stopped before 60% of the scheduled distance was completed.

De Filippis, on her side, had to face some bad situations in her brief F1 stint, between 1958 and 1959, especially with the then Race Director 'Toto' Roche.

“The only helmet a beautiful woman should wear is the one at the hairdressers,” Roche told de Filippis before the 1958 French Grand Prix before preventing her from entering the GP.

Some of that might still exist today, although back in the shadows, where not many can see. Anyway, there might also be a big physical challenge, but that's definitely something that can be worked on.

British Divina Galica (1976 and 1978), South African Desiré Wilson (1980) and Giovanna Amati (1992) entered Grands Prix but didn't manage to qualify for the main event.

Susie Wolff: F1 test driver for Williams

Susie Wolff: F1 test driver for Williams

Susie Wolff became the first woman to participate in an F1 weekend since Amati in the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix, as she drove in FP1 for Williams before the 2014 British Grand Prix. She also drove in the 2014 German Grand Prix, 2015 Spanish Grand Prix, and the 2015 British Grand Prix, all during practice sessions with Williams and with decent performances in terms of lap time.

Several other women have been involved in F1 recently, mainly as test drivers or development drivers or simply taking exhibition runs.

The names include Sarah Fisher (she was also an Indycar driver), Katherine Legge (Indycar), María de Villota (tested for Marussia), Simona de Silvestro (Indycar), Carmen Jordá, Tatiana Calderón (currently in Indycar and with a long career in European Formulas, including GP3 and the FIA F2 championship).

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7 F1 Fan comments on “Can a woman be a Formula 1 race driver?

  1. Richard Stephen Bufill

    Women have the attitude for strategy, and other "thinking skills", to make the best of the machinery they are given. But strength and endurance, compared to men, seem to be hard to emulate.

    • Nobodysperfect

      It would be nice though to see some women in F1. It's a pity Danica Patrick never got a go. She might have had the strength and skill to get in the mix.

      • Donalf

        Yes I agree, with what women have done to football what could they do with F1, anyway I'd rather watch women play football, they put more into than men.

  2. CanadianEh

    Truly female drivers are decades overdue in Formula 1. I'm not interested in seeing trans-gender 'females', or men that 'identify' as being a female as they are not true females.

    Equally competitive equally talented female drivers exist - though a search reveals a dirth of participants. This is truly regrettable. I for one would relish seeing a female WDC contender battling it out with the rest of the field.


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