Around the globe, The Powers That Be in motorsport have been pushing to increase diversity within the racing world, which has resulted in female-forward teams like Paretta Autosport in IndyCar or the all-woman W Series that shadows Formula 1. The atmosphere among these initiatives, though, is different. Time and again, no matter the context, I’ve heard the same sentiment: Working with a predominately female crew creates a welcoming, collaborative atmosphere when compared to more traditional, male-dominated racing spheres.
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“I’ve never experienced anything like it before,” Simona de Silvestro, driver of Paretta Autosport’s IndyCar entry, said when I asked her about what it’s like working with a team of predominately women. “I think there is a lot of respect to each other, and you want everyone to do well. It is really supportive, and I think we have a lot of fun as well.”
“Everybody is working so hard because we want to prove our worth to be here,” team CEO Beth Paretta added. “Though, in fairness, I think [racing] also draws a certain personality type. [The crew] already have that personality type; they raised their hand to want to be here. So it is kind of nice to see them all now, shoulder to shoulder, working with the guys on Ed Carpenter Racing.”
For Paretta, seeing her relatively inexperienced female-forward crew working alongside longtime IndyCar mechanics with the larger Ed Carpenter Racing squad — the team helping Paretta field de Silvestro’s car — has helped her feel less jaded. The veterans showing the new women how to handle a race weekend helped her realize that “this is the future. Maybe [the longtime crew member] didn’t have anyone to help them when they first started. So with these women, this is their opportunity.”
Paretta Autosport is a female-forward crew working in what is still a largely male-dominated IndyCar field, so a sense of camaraderie can be expected. But that sense of unity still holds strong in the W Series, the Formula 3-based open-wheel series designed to field only female drivers — even when you could expect more competition or ill will.
Chloe Chambers, a teenage racing superstar from America, noted that she was surprised by just how friendly everyone in the W Series was when she first flew to Europe to test.
“In the W Series it’s almost like everyone is a little bit more talkative with each other. It’s not really as hostile as just normal racing ways that I’ve always done,” she said. “I think I do appreciate it. I, in general, don’t really talk to a lot of people. I’m not overly friendly. I’m not going to walk up and hug somebody and act like I’m your best friend. But I think I can be a lot more comfortable with these people. I think just everybody is kind of going through the same things. So you all understand each other a lot better and everybody’s willing to help.”
She credited that sentiment in part to the fact that the W Series grid is fairly small and, for many drivers, represents the next step in a racing career after karting or regional formula racing, where the field of drivers can be huge and change with every race — leaving now time to get friendly with the competitors.
The series’ reigning champion, Jamie Chadwick, agreed with the sentiment.
“You have different teams, but the W Series is still centrally run, so you develop a level of respect and friendliness because you know what everyone’s doing,” she said. “It’s nice for a family dynamic. It can be a respite from the normal racing atmosphere.”
That atmosphere can best be summed up in an anecdote from W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir. One of the sport’s drivers, Naomi Schiff, has become a strong motorsport presenter for Formula 1, and during a W Series panel ahead of the Miami Grand Prix, Schiff arrived in a fashionable outfit. Her fellow drivers cheered her on, offering her compliments and words of encouragement as she took the stage. For Bond Muir, it was a beautiful sight, and the community of support illustrated just what a unique atmosphere the female-forward racing series has created.
Even in the face of competition, the women of motorsport have found solace in on another, highlighting a new future for racing — one that prioritizes collaboration, communal education, and widespread support.