Oh hey look, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is back to saying dumb things about women. Now he told Canadian radio station TSN Toronto 1050 that a female driver wouldn’t be taken seriously enough to make it in Formula One. That’s cute, because no one should take anything that comes out of Bernie’s mouth seriously, either.
Ecclestone, a froglike water creature that somehow learned to speak English and run an international motorsport business, had this to say to TSN when asked if we’d see a female in Formula One:
I doubt it, because if there was somebody that was capable, they wouldn’t be taken serious anyway, so they would never have a car that is capable of competing.
No credible reason was given to back up this comment, of course. Nothing was mentioned of the fact that it’s such a rarity to see women in motorsport that of course you’ll see more competitive men come through by sheer numbers alone. According to NBC Sports, the last woman to drive in F1 in a non-reserve/test role was Giovanna Amati in 1992.
When one of the few women who landed an F1 test role in recent years—Susie Wolff—leaves the sport to form an initiative to encourage women to get involved in motorsport, maybe, just maybe there’s an unnecessary perception that your sport’s a pricey boys’ club.
Ecclestone acknowledged Lotus development driver Carmen Jorda’s career to TSN, but did so in a way that just dug this hole deeper:
This female driver business – there was a girl that was driving in GP3 for a whole season, so it’s not something that hasn’t happened.
When pressed by the host as to whether we’d see a woman in “the main event,” Bernie responded, “No, I don’t think so.”
Admittedly, Jorda’s not the best example, as she’s not exactly there thanks to a solid driving record. That being said, every driver (male or female) in F1 seems to get there on some kind of “in,” be it talent, connections, money, more money, or some combination of those things. Furthermore, glossing over all of the other women rising up through the support series on talent at the moment is disingenuous at best.
But hey! Using one cheery, marketable face to back up the idea that an entire gender—which has been largely discouraged from participating in the sport throughout history—can’t be taken seriously is just one of many egregiously boneheaded remarks to come out of the Formula One CEO’s mouth.
Let’s take a look at some of Bernie’s recent greatest hits, shall we?
- Defending disgraced ex-FIFA head Sepp Blatter’s corrupt means of doing business
- Calling autocratic Russian cartoon/leader Vladimir Putin “the perfect person”
- Saying F1 grid passes are for “people of note” and “glamorous ladies” instead of, you know, fans?
- Proposing a separate Formula One for women
- Not caring about anyone who isn’t old or rich
- Suggesting Putin could rule Europe or America
- Agreeing with Putin’s oppressive policies on homosexuality
- Bribing (albeit legally) his way out of jail time for bribery and bragging about it on a Christmas card
- Pleading ignorance as to what human rights are
- Suggesting the use of sprinklers on tracks to spice up the action
- Complimenting Adolf Hitler’s ability to get things done
- Complimenting Saddam Hussein’s ability to control the country of Iraq
- Comparing women to “domestic appliances”
Sure, it would be equally dishonest of me not to recognize that there are occasional moments of lucidity from Ecclestone, such as when he admitted that F1 isn’t putting on the best show right now. But someone’s in charge of this series that’s supposedly slowly whirring into the toilet to the sound of an expensive hybrid V6 turbo, right? Right?
Personally, I believe it’s just the aging brain of a man forever stuck in the 1950s at work. That brain shouldn’t be heading up the pinnacle of motorsport and leading it into a new era. That brain should be talking to houseplants about how Tesco ran out of the good cheese this time.
F1 needs to innovate—badly. It can’t blindly follow the money without protecting the things that endear the sport to fans, such as classic tracks, fantastic driving and wild feats of engineering. It needs to put content in front of those fans in formats that fans want to watch, which means embracing online platforms. And for heaven’s sake, you’re not going to sell a sport in the 21st century to any new fans if they perceive it as elitist towards any single category of people, female, American or otherwise.
It’s time to stop taking Bernie Ecclestone seriously.
[H/T NBC Sports]
Photo credit: Getty Images
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