Sunday, July 14, 2024


Is the Formula 1 super license a help or a hindrance for female racing drivers?

With the news that the FIA ​​has updated its Appendix L of the International Sporting Code to make superlicence requirements for drivers under 18 years of age more flexible, the superlicence points system has once more come under query. I agree that a framework must be established to manage who can drive and when. However, the present system is imperfect, and this latest update goes some approach to acknowledging that.

The current system was introduced in 2016 to forestall a repeat of the ‘Max Verstappen scenario’ – in other words, a 17-year-old with only one season of motor racing under his belt went straight into Formula 1. But that ‘solution’ didn’t see the entire picture.

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Max has been driving since he was three and has been karting competitively for 10 years or more. Under current rules, he would only gain 20 Super Licence points – for ending third within the FIA ​​Formula 3 European Championship – and would obviously be too young for F1.

All he needed to do was race one other 12 months in F3, finish in the highest three again, and he would have been there. What was the perfect preparation for F1 for him: one other 12 months in F3 or a 12 months in F1 with a small team?

The Superlicence points system was created to encourage drivers to enter the total junior racing ladder – to realize experience, prove themselves and forestall drivers with money from buying seats in F1. These ‘paid drivers’, while not necessarily the fastest on the earth, have all the time provided much-needed funding to maintain the smaller teams alive, so that they have been essential.

However, those days are gone as F1 teams at the moment are sufficiently funded and subsequently the main focus has shifted towards hiring the fastest drivers. I say “gone,” but there are still just a few anomalies while you consider the needs of rich team owners and/or sponsors that allow just a few barely less capable drivers to seek out their way.

The current rules were introduced in 2014 to prevent other drivers from emulating Verstappen by skipping GP2

The current rules were introduced in 2014 to forestall other drivers from emulating Verstappen by skipping GP2

Photo: Andy Hone / Motorsports images

A driver who has won a Super License qualifying championship but still not received his full allocation of Super License points is Briton Jamie Chadwick, who won three consecutive seasons of the now defunct W Series. However, for the reason that path to F1 was still almost inconceivable for her, she was forced to go across the Atlantic to proceed her profession within the States.

She’s now on the Road to Indy show, competing within the Indy NXT Championship, and dominated the ultimate round at Road America, converting pole position into victory, the primary woman in history to accomplish that. It definitely can’t be out of the realm of possibility that she’ll be racing in IndyAutomotive next 12 months.

After all, there aren’t any barriers to entry for her from a licensing standpoint; is supported by an incredible partner, DHL, and the knowledge that motorsports is attracting an increasing variety of female spectators is rapidly accelerating sponsorship and marketing activities.

What are the probabilities of a female driver moving into F1? With the present super license points system, that's a few years and hundreds of thousands of dollars

DHL isn’t the one company to become involved. Beauty brands elf and Charlotte Tilbury are launching major support for Katherine Legge on the Indy 500 and Lola Lovinfosse on the F1 Academy respectively, and other brands are sure to follow suit.

Chadwick is among the finest female drivers on the earth, but she's not the primary woman with real skill. We at Carlin had the pleasure of testing Danica Patrick in our British F3 automobile in 2001, as she made the brave decision to go away the comfort of her hometown within the USA and take a look at her luck within the UK to proceed her profession in the recent house that was British Formula Ford.

While her results were mixed – she got here second within the 2000 Formula Ford Festival – they were adequate to catch the attention of Bobby Rahal, then team principal of Jaguar Racing (now Red Bull Racing). Ultimately, Rahal couldn’t support her as she climbed the F1 ladder, but he could and did help her find her way back to the US, namely IndyAutomotive, and he or she went on to set latest records for a girl in skilled racing by winning an IndyAutomotive race at Motegi in 2008.

Twenty years passed between Patrick's first steps towards success within the United States and Chadwick's excellent performances in the identical country. This delay shouldn’t be as a consequence of lack of talent or insufficient physical fitness, as is often claimed.

Chadwick has established herself as an Indy NXT winner and is a viable candidate for an IndyCar spot in 2025

Chadwick has established herself as an Indy NXT winner and is a viable candidate for an IndyAutomotive spot in 2025

Photo: James Black

It’s more a consequence of the low number of ladies moving into racing in the primary place. This has been recognised by Susie Wolff, whose F1 Academy is flourishing, and the further excellent news is that the Girls on Track initiative within the UK can have long-term advantages by enabling more women to get into racing.

So what are the probabilities of a female driver making it to F1? With the present superlicence points system, it’s a matter of years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. But due to the F1 Academy and Girls on Track, the door is now a minimum of barely ajar.

In just a few years, the FIA ​​could give special permission to award an excellent license to a reliable woman who could a minimum of make her first few Formula 1 flights and thus turn into a task model for women who wish to race at the best level.

F1 Academy has managed to convince F1 teams to support female talent, but next steps are unclear

F1 Academy has succeeded in getting F1 teams to support talented female drivers, but next steps unclear

Photo: Simon Galloway / Motorsports images

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