More Than Equal aims to offer females a shot into F1 within 10 years
Female-forward organisation More Than Equal hopes to find the first female Formula 1 Drivers’ World Champion within 10 years.
Motorsport is constantly evolving and is one of the only types of sports where both males and females can compete against each other on equal terms. Today females have become more visible in the racing world but the challenges they continue to face keep preventing them from competing at the top tier of racing, especially in F1. And while motorsport as a whole continues to make progress forward with female representation, F1 which is considered to be the pinnacle of racing is one of the only major series that doesn't have a woman driver competing at the world championship level.
While the world advances, women prove that they can succeed in the same positions as men- they are astronauts, in the military, and global leaders, yet they can't get a seat in F1. And because of the current state that F1 is in with its lack of female drivers and prospects in the near future, providing extra support for women and young girls throughout their racing careers is essential for their success.
The More than Equal initiative aspires to change the absence of female drivers in F1 in 10 years through a specialized program designed to offer support and help break down existing barriers that are preventing young girls and women from competing at the highest level of motorsport.
Females have always been part of motorsport history since the early days and women currently occupy many high-profile roles across the various types of racing series. They are strategists, pit crew members, engineers, team owners, press officers, and more. From a driver's perspective, however, females continue to face limited opportunities and a significant amount of work is required before they can reach the same level playing field as their male competitors on track.
When you look at the current scope of motorsport, F1 is one of the only series that lacks female drivers competing in it for the championship or on any level during a race weekend. F1 has always led the way in the motorsport industry with technology and innovation. But the series has fallen behind with its lack of access offered to female drivers which has resulted in them not acquiring a permanent spot on the grid and thus not being able to participate in a complete season. Other racing series such as Nascar, IndyCar, WRC, and the WEC, all have female drivers competing in multiple races throughout 2022. And the last woman to participate in F1 was Giovanna Amati in 1992 who entered three Grands Prix that year but failed to qualify.
During the 2022 season major racing series Nascar, IndyCar and the WEC featured female drivers. Nascar's Xfinity series had Natalie Decker and there were three women in the Truck series- Jennifer Jo Cobb, Hailie Deegan and Jessica Friesen. Tatiana Calderon and Simona de Silvestro raced on the street and road courses in IndyCar. The WEC had the all-female Iron Dames team that competed during the regular season including the 24-hour Le Mans race. And this season in F1 female drivers were only represented in development driver roles- Jessica Hawkins with Aston Martin and Jaime Chadwick with Williams Racing.
Jamie Chadwick, celebrates on the podium.
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
The W series was created in response to the lack of opportunities for women in motorsport by offering females a championship to compete in based on merit and equal machinery. The W series also reached a milestone in its third season and attracted 1 million UK audience for the Silverstone race in 2022- this was also the first time that a non-F1 motorsport event attracted such viewership since 2014. And what the 1 million UK audience shows is that not only does an all-female driver series have the potential to draw in similar viewership numbers to those dominated by male drivers. But there is also a significant amount of interest to see women race and from a business point of view- a valuable market to tap into. Since the demand to see female drivers compete in racing exists and continues to grow for motorsport spectators, isn't it about time this is reflected at the top level of racing in F1?
More importantly from a deeper perspective, racing fans especially the female ones, need to feel represented on track and have role models that they can relate to in a personal way. If young girls and women can see a female driver competing in the most elite racing series in the world –F1 then they can have hope and the courage to follow their dreams on the racetrack.
Motorsport is an expensive sport that requires large amounts of money to compete in, from the early stages of karting to climbing the ranks to the top-tier racing series such as F1. One of the major issues female drivers encounter throughout their racing career has to do with the lack of funding available and finding long-term sponsors. Although this problem exists for male drivers it's a greater concern for female drivers who also have to face double standards and overcome old-school perceptions of what a racer should be.
Without proper financial backing and sponsors, female drivers are often denied access to quality equipment, programs, physical training, and the best cars, further putting them at a disadvantage to male drivers.
Super One British Kart Championship: Lewis Hamilton, 1st position, Cadet Class
Photo by: Motorsport Images
While the presence of females in motorsport keeps growing over the years, work is still needed to ensure that they have equal opportunities to that of their male competitors. Now more than ever is the time for young girls and women to receive the support and financial backing needed to overcome all the barriers preventing them from competing at the top level of motorsport alongside male drivers across all racing series.
More than Equal aims to make the goal of one day having a female driver not only compete in F1 but to become a World Champion a reality. The initiative which has been founded by former F1 driver David Coulthard and entrepreneur Karel Komarek wants to build a framework to identify barriers that prevent women's entry and continuation in motorsport, and then work towards bringing down these barriers all the way to a permanent F1 seat.
With initiatives such as Girls on Track, FIA WIM (Women in Motorsport commission) and various other organizations, the motorsport industry keeps pushing for more female drivers to compete in all racing series. And while Girls on track and FIA WIM provide young girls and women support in their racing careers, an organization such as More Than Equal is essential for aspiring female drivers who want to compete at the top level of racing because it focuses solely on F1 -the most problematic series for females to break into.
F1 recently announced the launch of the F1 Academy, an all-female driver competition series aimed at supporting young girls as they progress through the ranks of categories such as the W series, F3, F2, and eventually into F1. The program focuses on offering young female drivers more access to track time and opportunities that will help them develop the skills necessary to compete in various racing series leading into F1. And by providing young girls with specialized programs like those within the F1 Academy, the presence of initiatives such as More Than Equal is crucial in changing the current landscape that lacks female drivers in F1.
David Coulthard believes that if More than Equal can find young girls from all over the world that have the desire and hunger to be a race car driver then the initiative can put together a support system that will provide the resources needed to help them get into F1. Above all, more than Equal will strive to provide young girls with the same opportunities and support as young boys at the earliest stage in their racing career so they have plenty of time to achieve the goal of making into F1 within 10 years.
At the moment, the pathway into F1 feels like a daunting one filled with uncertainty for female drivers but the future looks promising because of initiatives like More than Equal. With the proper support and financial backing over the course of their racing careers, female drivers are becoming one step closer to breaking the barriers into F1.
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