Four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel calls Domenicali's comments, 'a very unlucky choice of words.'
- F1’s top executive was asked about the possibility of a woman making it to the Formula 1 grid anytime soon.
- His response was anything but flattering for women hoping to one day get a chance to race in Formula 1.
- Four-time F1 champ Sebastian Vettel says it’s disappointing that women racers aren’t respected more.
Women hoping for a chance to race in Formula 1, at least in the next five years, should not hold their breath or bother checking their cellphones to see if a team owner had called to offer a seat on the grid.
No chance of it happening, says Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
Speaking to Sky Sports this week in Belgium, the F1’s top executive was asked about the possibility of a woman making it to the Formula 1 grid anytime soon. After all, the F1-endorsed W Series is being promoted as a path for top women racers to move up the ladder toward Formula 1.
Stefano Domenicali thinks it might just take a meteorite to get a woman to the Formula 1 grid.
Lars Baron – Formula 1Getty Images
The W Series has even become an FIA-sanctioned championship with Super License points now being awarded to the top nine finishers in season points. Three top-two season finishes over the course of three seasons would even give a driver enough of those Super License points to qualify for a Formula 1 seat—that is, if a team was willing to give a woman a legitimate shot.
“Realistically speaking, unless there is something like a meteorite, I don’t see a girl coming into F1 in the next five years,” Domenicali said in a report published by Sky Sports. “That is very unlikely.”
Alrighty then. So much for getting excited about women like two-time (soon to be three-time) series champion Jamie Chadwick (pictured above) who are pouring their hearts into the W Series. Chadwick drives for US team owner Caitlyn Jenner.
Four-time F1 champ Sebastian Vettel says it’s disappointing that women racers aren’t respected more, and he hopes at least one will someday soon prove Domenicali wrong.
“Well, I know Stefano and I think it was, I haven’t read exactly, but it was a very unlucky choice of words,” Vettel said during media availability at Spa, ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. “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—I don’t know sitting at breakfast—saying that I want to become a racing driver.
“And then, you know, the father might have just read exactly that statement and makes it clear to her that, ‘but you do like other things, why not focus on other things’, and then maybe they do focus on other things and drop racing or the idea of it. It’s important that we don’t say these things, because you know, there’s sparks everywhere.
“I don’t see a reason why we can’t have a woman on the grid. I think the challenges we are facing, they can be faced by women. So, I do the opposite. I encourage every girl at the breakfast, lunch, or dinner table to speak up and prove Stefano, in this regard, wrong and all these people wrong. Let’s say that, you know, certain things can’t be done by you, because you are a girl or a woman, I think this sort of stereotype thinking is slowly disappearing, but has to disappear completely.”
The last woman to start a Formula 1 race was Lella Lombardi, who made 12 starts between 1975 and 1976.
Chadwick, 24, would appear to be the woman closest to the F1 grid today. She has served as a development driver in the Williams F1 program, but has not been given a chance to participate in a free practice one session in the series.
Mike Pryson Mike Pryson covered auto racing for the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot and MLive Media Group from 1991 until joining Autoweek in 2011.