Stop Trying To Make The Women-Only F1 Series Happen

Carmen Jordá, one of the few women who’s come close to an F1 seat in recent years. Photo credit: Lotus F1
Carmen Jordá, one of the few women who’s come close to an F1 seat in recent years. Photo credit: Lotus F1

Here’s some more exhausting garbage about women in motorsport to ruin your day: organizers are still trying to make that ridiculous all-women Formula One series happen in 2019. They’ve scrapped the goofy “SHE Championship” name, but it’s still the same infuriating, patronizing idea that no one really needs.

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The series plans to run a short, six-race schedule in the summer, with five races in Europe and one in America, reports ESPN. The champion will be promised a Formula One test drive, as they’re presenting this idea as a way to get more women into Formula One. The proposal obtained by Jalopnik several months ago claimed that the costs of participation will be fully funded by the series.

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Yet as we’ve noted before, few will see this as a fair way to get more women into racing’s highest level. They’ll see it for what it is: an alternate, less competitive path for women just to get a test drive. Worse yet, its very concept implies that these yahoos believe that women can’t compete on the same level as men and under the same circumstances.

Ex-Formula One development driver Carmen Jordá—one of the few women who has spoken in favor of this bad idea—even admitted as such, telling ESPN:

I believe a women’s F1 championship would give us the chance to achieve our dreams and compete on an equal footing — as in other sports. One day it will happen and it is the right thing to do.

They think because we are driving a car we are on the same level as men which is completely not true because we will never be the same as them. I have had to fight through many things to get to the top of this sport, just because I am a woman, and that is not fair.

This is defeatist nonsense, as let’s be honest here: Jordá just isn’t very good. She hasn’t won a feeder series championship, and barely cracked the podium in Formula 3. When you’re up against 24 Hours of Le Mans winners and GP2 champions for a coveted F1 seat, no duh you will face an incredible uphill battle.

Motorsport is one of the few sports where men and women compete alongside each other, and results alone should be what matters. This series’ promised test drive won’t ultimately change much, as you’re not going to get very far beyond a token test (or Jordá’s development role, for that matter) if you haven’t demonstrated that you can beat the dudes who are also trying out for F1 seats. You can only prove that by racing them in the same series.

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Worse yet, they’re still promoting this idea with completely unrealistic expectations, as ESPN notes:

The London-based company behind the project are believed to carry the financial muscle required to get the landmark proposal off the ground — and its ambitious organisers expect the championship to be second only to Formula One as the biggest international motor racing series within three years of its launch.

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We’ve debunked this claim before, but one does not merely start up a championship and have it become second to F1 practically overnight, especially with a single-gender focus and a short summer schedule. Other women’s sports leagues only get a fraction of the attention (and thus, funding) compared to their all-male counterparts.

As for the schedule, IndyCar has been heavily criticized in recent years for having a too-long off-season, which makes it too easy to forget. That’s a series with over a century worth of history and one of the most famous races in the world on the schedule. How on earth does this women’s F1 series expect a summer-only calendar to work out?

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The much newer Formula E series might be be a closer analogy, and even it has struggled to find an audience despite having a longer, spread out schedule and loads of manufacturer support.

Then again, they’re already under-delivering on some of their earlier overblown promises. An exhibition race and testing planned for this year didn’t happen, and they’re now targeting 2019 for their first race. A series spokesperson told ESPN:

There will be no announcement for a number of months as we are undertaking a lot of research and completing our strategy. Starting something from scratch takes an enormous amount of time to get right.

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Here’s a thought on getting this right: how about permanently delaying the idea of a women-only series into oblivion and using this funding to sponsor women drivers in established series instead? Let women prove they can win against their competition in series like Formula 2, Formula 3, or Indy Lights. If you want women in the main F1 show, that’s the only way to do it fairly.

To their credit, ESPN notes that the series has been speaking with a number of women in racing, whose concerns forced them to pull back from calling it “SHE Championship.” But they need to listen further, as the numbers who believe this will cause more harm than anything are right. It’s hard enough for women in racing to feel welcome and accepted as it is—we don’t need to be told to stick to our “own” series, thanks.

Moderator, OppositeLock. Former Staff Writer, Jalopnik. 1984 "Porschelump" 944 race car, 1971 Volkswagen 411 race car, 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS.

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DISCUSSION

rex-imperator
Drakkon- Most Glorious and Upright Person of Genius

F1 is important for the global stage and the $$$($$$[$$$$$$$$])

but my heart still lies here.

Legge was great to watch in the awesome and inspiring Broke-a-Lot 3000.

Robertson drove in the privateer Ford years back but not enough backing to really move the needle.

Mann drove in Indy. Of course the car was pink, because you KNOW!

My point is, there are a lot of junior series that feed into a lot of premier series that are well below F1 in the barriers to entry. Fill the ranks. Fill ‘em with young women who have the drive for excellence and they will get noticed. I think in some cases, a woman in a junior series shows a little promise and they accelerate her up the ranks hoping that she’s going to be the one. That spark. The Hail Mary pass. This is going to come off meaner and more cynical than I intend it, but it gets to the point. In the corporate world, they call it ‘promoted to the point of incompetence.’ These drivers are not incompetent, but not prepared for the challenge ahead.

My actual point is, I want to see woman in racing. Behind the wheel and behind the wall. It’s tough to describe what Leena Gade means to me and I’ve never met her. Especially that video of her making the tire choice in 2011. Ulrich standing there with the look on his face that he had a certain opinion about what choice she should make but saying nothing. He could drive the decision making, but it was her call. She didn’t crack, she &^#%$$ rocked it. Hat tip to Dr Ulrich and a champagne shake for Gade.

But that old adage that you have to start from the bottom still holds. Fill up the junior series. Not onesies twosies. But they call them feeder series for a reason. Then let in, let them earn it. With enough in the ranks and enough focus that they are equally competing, they will enter and succeed in the upper series.