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Rethink racing

2 years ago

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Joana Fidalgo | Engineer


9 August 2022

As a woman, I have a better chance of going into space than getting onto an F1 grid. No, really: this is not the old writer’s trick of over-egging the pudding to make a point, but cold, hard statistical fact. 

To this day, some 73 women have been to space, but just five have participated in a World Championship Formula 1 Grand Prix. Numerically speaking, expressed as a percentage of those who have made it in each discipline, I am 21 times more likely to become an astronaut than a Formula 1 driver. And if I reduce the sample to only include female drivers who qualified for the actual race, this likelihood increases to 46. Forty. Six.

Every year, thousands of kids race all types of open-wheel single-seater cars in the hopes of one day watching the F1 lights flick off from inside a helmet, but only a select few ever make it. Formula 1 has long been considered the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ and the conditions of entry are strict. Yet despite being a showcase for some of engineering’s most fascinating and pioneering technologies, much of its allure comes from an outdated glamorised image of exclusivity and masculinity.

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