Víctor Forner: How can we make change? #WIMM
For #WomenInMotorsportMonth, I’ve decided to ask a friend of mine about how we can make change for women in motorsport. He’s a data engineer in feeder series, and he’s worked with many young racers who could become the next generation of leading women in motorsport.
Dialogue is important - let’s use #WomenInMotorsportMonth to create some.
Do you think there are barriers to women doing well/progressing in junior series, for example in relation to sponsorships? Or is the talent simply not there yet?
As an engineer of a female young driver, it’s not the first time that someone has asked me that question.
The first thing I want to say is that I have seen, and sometimes feel, that there is a little bit of discrimination, not only by fans but also by people inside motorsport. Luckily, I have never felt that in Denmark, where we competed in the Danish F4 Championship in 2020 and 2021. It is a championship with a lot of women competing (a record of 6 in the last round this year) and there is always support for women in motorsport. I think that if one of these drivers shows some really strong results, it could be easier to find sponsors, but I’m not sure if those sponsors would be really high quality, or just using this success for their own benefit.
The problem, as always, is that not every driver (regardless of gender) has the right resources. It’s tiring to see how many very talented drivers cannot reach F1 or even F2/F3 due to low funding. I always remember drivers like Robert Wickens, Raffaele Marciello or Mirko Bortolotti, very talented drivers that never reached F1.
That problem is even more damning for women who are racing. For example, let’s take the 2014 Karting European Championship (KF Junior). There were two well-known female drivers, Sophia Floersch (who finished P16) and Marta Garcia (who finished P18), compared to 32 men. In that race, there were plenty of other drivers that would come to have immense success in feeder series: Dan Ticktum (P2), Logan Sargeant (P6), David Beckmann (P9), Christian Lundgaard (P11), Juan Manuel Correa (P27) and quite some more. I’ve missed one, the only one that reached F1: Mick Schumacher in P25. That race was an uncharacteristically poor one for him, and he finished P4 in the pre-finale. My point is that, if out of 34 drivers, only one reaches F1, and only one in seventeen is a woman, the chances of that driver being the one that reaches Formula 1 is very low.
Nowadays I don’t think that a lack of opportunity is as much of a problem, because there are quite a few good initiatives supporting women in motorsport, such as FIA WIM Rising Stars and W Series. Funding seems to be a bigger issue, as these opportunities have given drivers like Jamie Chadwick the opportunity to shine, but in a motorsport world that’s becoming more and more expensive, having the right funding to buy the right equipment is so difficult, and that hurts the chances of drivers like Chadwick or Sophia Floersch to succeed.
The double standards for women in motorsport are disappointing too. Women in racing fields are regularly criticised far more than their male counterparts, especially by male fans. For example, Sophia Floersch had a difficult year in F3 in 2020, and many asked why she was there, or suggested that she was only there because of her gender. These comments weren’t made towards the rest of the bottom half of the grid.
Let women drive, and let them learn and grow. If they have the funding and support they need, then I’m sure that one day, we’ll have women back in Formula 1.