Here’s how Alpine plans to find F1’s next female driver
Alpine says it is investing ‘significant’ resources in developing a female F1 driver
Almost half a century has passed since the last female driver entered an F1 race: in 1976, Lella Lombardi took her Brabham-Ford to 12th place in the Austrian Grand Prix, a feat that has not been repeated since.
She also did not finish P6 at the Spanish Grand Prix the previous year, which marked the only time a woman scored championship points in F1. So far.
Advertising – Page continues below
Alpine wants to fix it. Last week it announced a plan to increase the number of women in its workforce from 12% to 30% over five years, along with a commitment to invest in the girls at the heart of motorsport – karting – so to chart a course the way to F1.
First, the company will use the likes of the Paris Brain Institute to study exactly what physical and cognitive abilities drivers need to compete at the highest level, then the results will be used to refine coaching. and the training that Alpine gives to all of its young prodigies.
“But even when you learn all this, you just have to get girls interested from a very young age in becoming race car drivers,” team principal Otmar Szafnauer told TG shortly before qualifying for the British Grand Prix. “And if they’re interested, and there are more of them from a young age, here you go find those gems. They’ll be quick.
Advertising – Page continues below
“I remember working with Nico Hulkenberg and he started at seven years old. And he thinks it was a year or two too late,” he continues. five years. Otherwise, the pathways in your brain just don’t form the same way. And then when you get older, you struggle.
Szafnauer is convinced that by acknowledging what is wrong, his team can correct the imbalance. “It’s not just words,” he says. “We’re going to put money behind it.”
The exact amount is not yet clear, but Alpine is looking for funding partners and has promised to invest “significant” resources in a program leading to regional Formula 4, then Formula 3, Formula 2 and finally to the Big One.
It is supervised by the company’s CEO, Laurent Rossi, who tells TG: “For me, there is no limiting factor that could explain why a woman would be less efficient than a man. It’s really a matter of leveling the playing field and pushing areas where the girls are probably stronger than the boys.
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. Watch for your regular roundup of news, reviews, and deals in your inbox.
Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, straight to your inbox.
“The reason we are trying to get out of karting is because it is important to really start the job from the beginning.
If Alpine succeeds in training a female driver from karting all the way to F1, it could still take the best part of a decade before the project begins to bear fruit. Did Rossi imagine how big it would be if a female driver donned the team suit at a Grand Prix in the future?
“It will be a great achievement,” he said. “It would make me proud obviously for the symbolism of it, but you have to realize that Formula 1 is not just about racing. Formula 1 is the visible part, we try to apply it to everything jobs at Alpine.
“Because right now it’s considered a male industry. And that halves the potential talent pool. Which I find stupid. Why would I stop myself from hiring super smart and capable people just because of their gender? It seems completely wrong.
“We need super bright and talented people to develop the cars of tomorrow. Racing is another story. It’s stronger as a symbol, but it would follow the same logic. I would have found my next George Russell, my next Charles Leclerc, except that it will be an Elizabeth no matter what! And it’s fantastic.