Charles Leclerc wants women to race in F1 – but only on this condition

Only two women have ever started a Formula 1 race in the championship era.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc wants women to be judged by the same metric as men regarding places on the Formula 1 grid.

Only five female drivers have ever entered a championship Formula 1 grand prix, and only two of those have ever started a race.

Lella Lombardi is the only woman to score a championship point in the pinnacle of motorsport, finishing sixth at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

Susie Wolff took part in a practice session with Williams in Silverstone eight years ago, and she looked a real contender to make her way onto the grid.

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That chance looked as though it was going to arise in 2015 when Felipe Massa was forced to miss the Australian Grand Prix, but the British team decided to run only with Valtteri Bottas instead of putting Wolff in the car.

Now, Jamie Chadwick, who is on course to become a three-time W Series champion this year, is knocking on the doors of F1 and IndyCar for a full-time seat.

She tested an Indy Lights challenger with Andretti recently, and has previously indicated that this year will be her last in the all-women support series.

The W Series was designed to get women noticed by Formula 2 and 3 teams in the paddock, with a view to then getting them involved with F1.

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After they make it onto the official feeder series ladder, Leclerc believes it should be about their talents, rather than sending a message.

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“I follow the W series a bit, Jamie Chadwick is very good. It’s good to give women a chance in F2 and F3, and hopefully F1,” explained the Monegasque in the press conference ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.

“But if there is a female driver, it should be by merit, not with the help of a social message.”

Many people in motorsport, including European Le Mans Algarve driver, Sophia Floersch, have spoken out against the W Series since its inception in 2019, suggesting that it only serves to further segregate women and men.