Sebastian Vettel has advised Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali not to deter girls from aspiring to become racing drivers after the former Ferrari boss’ interesting remarks.
Only five women have ever entered a grand prix event in F1, with two of them starting a race – one of whom managed a points finish.
Maria Teresa de Filippis was the first woman to race in the championship era, starting three races in a Maserati chassis with the help of Scuderia Centro Sud, and she finished 10th at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1958.
Lella Lombardi made her debut in 1974, scoring half a point at the Spanish Grand Prix with March a year later – she entered 17 races.
Divina Galica, Desire Wilson and Giovanna Amati have since entered grand prix events, but sadly were unable to make it onto the starting grid.
Since 1992, the closest we have been to getting a female driver on the grid has been Susie Wolff, who partook in a practice session with Williams at the 2014 British Grand Prix.
She was tipped to race in Melbourne the following year after Valtteri Bottas was unable to compete, but the British side decided to run only with Felipe Massa that weekend.
Now, Jamie Chadwick races in the W Series having won it twice, while Tatiana Calderon has recently returned to Formula 2.
There are plenty more too; Abbie Eaton, Alice Powell, Abbi Pulling, Belen Garcia, Bianca Bustamente, among many others, have caught the eye over the past few years in the all-women series.
Former Formula 3 driver and European Le Mans racer, Sophia Floersch, has also established herself as a consistent and fast driver, so it feels like female participation in the pinnacle of motorsport might not be too far away.
Domenicali, however, is not convinced that this can happen any time soon.
“Realistically speaking, unless there is something like a meteorite, I don’t see a girl coming into F1 in the next five years,” he said, quoted by Sky Sports.
“That is very unlikely.”
The Italian added that the sport needs to create the “right parameters” for women to enter.
Upon hearing those comments, Vettel cautioned that they could be damaging for women who are keen to enter F1 in the coming years.
“It was a very unlucky choice of words because it’s statements like that, that I guess women are, probably all girls, are probably confronted with when they grow up and sharing their dreams…sitting at breakfast, saying that I want to become a racing driver,” he said.
“And the father might just have read exactly statements like that and say: ‘You do like other things, why not focus on other things?’ Maybe they do focus on other things and drop racing or the idea.
“It is important we don’t say these things because there are sparks everywhere.”
Vettel was recently described as a “figurehead” of F1, along with Sir Lewis Hamilton, by Aston Martin ambassador and W Series driver Jessica Hawkins.