Women, these great absentees from motorsport, guess why

In France, the proportion of women in motorsport represents 13% according to the French Federation (FFSA). Internationally, it’s even worse: none of them have started in F1 for over 30 years. Find the woman.

At the wheel of a single-seater or rally car, on the road or on the tracks, few young girls can find a place for themselves in the largely male automotive environment.

Lilou Wadoux, associated with the eight-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier

A solution ? Let them face the best from an early age. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will once again welcome an all-female crew this weekend, that of the Iron Women’s team, founded in 2019.

In addition, there will be two other women in mixed teams, including the young Lilou Wadoux, associated with the eight-time World Rally Champion, Sébastien Ogier.

Until there are more girls on the base…

If motorsport is theoretically not reserved for men, women will remain underrepresented, if not absent, in several disciplines. “As long as there are no more girls at the base, we cannot hope for more in the higher category”, sums up the German Jutta Kleinschmidt, the only woman to win the Dakar rally raid (in 2001).

In France, the proportion of women in motorsport is 13% according to the French Motorsport Federation (FFSA), but it falls to less than 11% (10.38%) among girls aged 7 to 17, the age at which the decision to professional career is made.

We saw young girls who were doing well, but who dropped out at some point

“Perhaps our number of licensees is not high enough,” acknowledges Nicolas Deschaux, president of the FFSA. He still notes “an increase in female practice: +15% among girls in ten years”.

At the global level, the situation is hardly better: according to the International Automobile Federation (FIA), motorsport only welcomes 5% of women. In order to improve their visibility and encourage them to participate, the FIA ​​created the “Women in Motor Sport” commission in 2009.

I learned today that Formula 1 is a mixed sport but we haven’t seen a woman drive a Grand Prix in 30 years and that’s a shame

“Jotuconnais?” (@jotuconnais) June 9, 2022

The reason? “We saw young girls who were doing well, but then dropped out because they generally mature much younger than boys (…) Then they realized they either didn’t see a future for them, or they had other interests elsewhere ”, explains Michèle Mouton, the ex-rally driver, who chaired the committee until the end of last year.

Today there is no woman on the starting grid in Formula 1

Today there is no woman at the start of Formula 1, nor in F2 and F3, the two front rooms of the elite supervised by the FIA. Nor the shadow of a World Rally Championship (WRC) elite driver.

In more than 70 editions of the Formula 1 World Championship, only two women have taken the start of a Grand Prix, the last time in 1976. “I am absolutely convinced that there is only one way to ‘have a woman who is the elite , both on the track and in a rally: it means she fights with the best,” said Michèle Mouton from the start.

Inclusive programs

To remedy this, several initiatives have recently been launched: the Commission’s FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars program for women in motorsport, to identify young talent, or the mixed training for Ferrari F1 drivers, the Ferrari Driver Academy . A single-seater young women’s championship – dubbed the W Series – was also inaugurated in 2019 and is contested on the sidelines of select F1 GPs.

If we’re going to separate the championships and put the women on one side and the men on the other, that’s already the end for women

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Focus on Maya Weug:
• At the age of 16, she became the first woman to join the Ferrari Driver Academy, a training course for drivers of the Ferrari Formula 1 team! ud83cudfce (2021)
• It will compete in an F4 Championship this year. #YESGIRLSCAN ud83dudcaa pic.twitter.com/5fRjlIYHDG

— Alice Milliat Foundation (@FAMilliat) April 29, 2021

The bonuses should allow competitors to fund the rest of their careers in mixed categories. But for Michèle Mouton, this last category “will never lead anyone to the top. If we separate the championships and put the women on one side and the men on the other, it already means the end for women, because it is only by fighting with the best we advance”.

The proof, according to the 1982 vice world rally champion? Briton Jamie Chadwick, crowned in 2019 and 2021, is still present in the category.