Have there been any female F1 drivers?
Females drivers in Formula One is not a common sight. In fact you’d think that there hasn’t been any female driver in Formula One but there have been. Since the beginning of the World Championship in 1950 there have been five women who have entered at least one race. However only two female drivers have ever qualified and started a race.
The five female drivers who have entered a Grand Prix are:
- Maria Teresa de Filippis
- Lella Lombardi
- Divina Galicia
- Desire Wilson
- Giovanna Amati
Out of these five Maria Teresa and Lella Lombardi are the only one’s to have started a race. Teresa entered in five races and started in three. Her best finish came in 1958 Belgian GP when she finished 10th.
Lella Lombardi is by far the most successful female driver. Lombardi entered a total of 17 races and started 12. She remains to be the only female driver to have scored points in Formula One race. Her best finish came in the 1975 Spanish GP when she finished 6th.
Female racer’s involvement as Test Drivers
Although we don’t get to see females racing in Formula One but you can see a female driver as test driver once in a while. There have been a few female drivers who have been seen in non-competition testing sessions with Formula One teams.
Notably, Toto Wolff’s wife was signed by Williams in 2012. Susie Wolff acted as a developmental and test driver for the team. She was also the first woman to participate in a Formula One practice at the British GP.
While female drivers have been a part of testing since 2002 the last woman to be signed as a developmental driver was Jamie Chadwick in 2019. Chadwick was signed by Williams and she was the leading W series contender.
What is the W Series?
W Series is an all female racing championship. This competition was created because of the lack of female drivers on the highest motor sporting level. Their first season came in 2019.
The competition consists of mechanically identical cars, unlike Formula One. All the cars have the same Autotecnica Motori-tuned Alfa Romeo 1.8-litre turbocharged engines.
The first season contested six races and was won by Jamie Chadwick. The 2020 season was canceled completely because of Covid. As of 2021, Jamie Chadwick is leading the W series yet again with Alice Powell.
The W series has also received its fair share of criticism. It is debated that this has not put the female drivers upfront but creating a separate competition is segregating the female drivers.
Whatever the case may be, the W Series has managed to put female drivers on the map which wasn’t happening before.
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