The subject of why women have not been successful in Formula 1 has again come to the fore following comments made last weekend by Spanish driver Carmen Jorda.
After testing a new Formula E electric-powered car in Mexico, Jorda told reporters “women should aim to race in Formula E instead of Formula 1 as it is less physically challenging”.
The former GP3 and Lotus Formula 1 development driver is a member of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and told reporters “the challenge we have in Formula 2 and Formula 1 is a physical one, and in Formula E we won’t have that”.
Not surprisingly social media went into overdrive with both men and women, including high profile drivers, questioning her comments as sending the wrong message.
Nissan Motorsport Supercar driver Simona de Silvestro was quick off the start line, claiming it was not the right message to young girls trying to follow their dreams.
“I have raced in Indy Car, FIA Formula E, Supercars and driven a Formula 1 car and all were challenging but I never felt physically disadvantaged” the Swiss driver and 2014 test driver for the Sauber Formula 1 team tweeted.
Former World Champion Jenson Button expressed similar views as de Silvestro stating “Oh Carmen, you are not helping proper female racing drivers with this comment”.
Since the inception of the driver’s world championship in 1950 only five women have entered at least one Grand Prix and only two of them qualified and raced, with Italian Lella Lombardi entered in 17 races and starting in 12 between 1974 and 1976.
Her best result was sixth at the 1975 Spanish GP and she remains the first and only woman to score a world championship point.
The pioneer for women in the championship was fellow Italian Maria Teresa de Filippis who entered five races in the 1958 and 1959 seasons but only started in three, driving a Maserati 250F and a Behra Porsche.
As an aside the race director at the 1958 French GP denied her involvement in the race, stating “the only helmet that a woman should use is the one at the hairdressers”.
Try getting away with that sort of discrimination in this day and age.
In 1976 British driver Divina Galica and Lombardi tried to qualify for the British GP, which was the only time that two women had entered the same race, but neither of them qualified.
In 1980, South African Desire Wilson tried to qualify for the British GP and failed, but that same year she became the only woman win to a Formula 1 race when she won a non-championship race at Brands Hatch.
The last woman who tried to compete in a Formula 1 championship race was Italian Giovanna Amati in 1992, but she failed to qualify for the three races she entered.
Launceston driver Adam Garwood made a solid start to his career in the tough Porsche Carrera Cup championship when he competed in the opening round in Adelaide last weekend.
The entire field of 26 drivers were driving identical 4.0 litre, flat-six-powered, new generation cars which produce 485 brake horsepower.
For Garwood it was a major transition to come from the V8-powered Holden Torana that he has been racing in the Touring Car Masters series.
The unsponsored family-run team, with engineering input from the experienced Steve Williams, was very happy with the results for a first up run against far more experienced competitors most of whom have substantial backing.
Garwood qualified mid-field in 13th position and finished 11th in race one and then 10th in race two.
In the final race, Garwood moved into eighth position but then on the last lap, got caught behind James Moffat which allowed two cars to pass him pushing him back to 10th place.
The next round of the eight-round championship will be a support event for the Australian GP in two weeks’ time at the fast-flowing Albert Park circuit.