Bringing Beauty to the Track

There have been a few female racing drivers to grace the Formula 1 World, five to be precise. These five have been involved in a total of twenty-nine races, but only fifteen starts and 0.5 points between them all. 0.5 of those points belong to one driver, Lella Lombardi, the Italian who is recognised as the most successful female Formula 1 driver. Lombardi was entered into seventeen grand prix with two teams, Brabham and March. Her only points came in the tragic Spanish Grand Prix of 1975, where the race was stopped at half distance following a horrific crash which saw four people killed, thus as Lombardi finished 6th, she was awarded 0.5 points. Her last race was the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix where Lombardi finished 12th, albeit last of the finishers.

amatiAmati at the South African GP in 1992

The most recent was Giovanna Amati, who drove for Brabham in the first three races of the 1992 season. Amati never qualified, finishing 30th all three times, was generally much slower than teammate Eric Van de Poele, in Brazil, he was quicker than her by five seconds and was still 29th. Brabham decided to get rid of Amati when the money simply wasn’t coming in, and replace her with a certain Damon Hill.

But the year is now 2009, and the last female driver was entered a full seventeen years ago. The closest anyone has got is when Katherine Legge tested a Minardi in 2005 and before that, Sarah Fisher testing a McLaren around Indianapolis in 2002.

However, with the almost certainty of USF1 being confirmed for the 2010 season, they want American drivers, and who better than the American driver everyone knows, Danica Patrick. It’s been rumoured in the media Patrick is someone the new outfit are really looking at. But the IRL driver has appeared more in a swimsuit in Sports Illustrated than she has won a race. And that is most likely why the girl is most likely to be signed by USF1, the unbelievable amount of publicity that she will get. Amati was surrounded by journalists at her first grand prix, imagine having every single Formula 1 source, and then all the newspapers pushing around you as you try to get to your pit garage. However, Patrick’s weakness in the IRL is street courses, or circuits that have left and right turns. Which just so happen to be every single Formula 1 track, which could be a major downfall.

Patrick is possibly going to be the next female Formula 1 driver, whilst most likely being a failure and ending up on F1 Rejects. But what about female drivers who could possibly make it, get into the big teams and get a few points in the bag. Step forward please Natacha Gachnang.

natachaNatacha Gachnang 2nd place trophy in Valencia

Gachnang happens to be the cousin of new Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Buemi. In the 2008 season she drove in the Spanish Formula 3, finishing third in her class, with quite a few podiums and several poles along the way. The Swiss driver will be driving in Formula 2 this season, and with the series being a step down from Formula 1, its more than likely teams interested in drivers will be looking into the lower formulae and watching drivers like Gachnang.

Where have all the Good Girls Gone?

Surely in a sport where men and women can compete equally on the same stage, why am I struggling to find recognisable names to talk about, Natacha Gachnang is fairly unheard of.

Most girls whilst growing up aren’t interested in anything motorsport related, be it the racing, the technical side of things or they have better things to do on a Sunday lunchtime (or in the early hours of the morning depending where you are).

Then if you watch a pre-race build up, what do you see in front of the cars and drivers, grid girls. I shall refrain from posting one here, but you get the general consensus, the sport is about men driving with all the glamour of sexy girls watching them. Those people are wrong, however it could lead in the potential drivers wanting to ‘glam’ themselves to stand in front of drivers rather than kit themselves up with helmets to have them in the drivers seat.

The general fault, the stereotype that motorsport is for men. Can a female driver in Formula 1, whether it is Patrick or Gachnang or someone else entirely, manage to convince the younger generation to pick up the sport and show the men how to do it.


Posted on February 18, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I think it was the Spanish GP of 1975, not the Belgian

  2. That you are correct with, don’t know what made me think Belgian.

  3. Yes she can. It will take time, but once a good female driver makes into F1 being more or less successful, the snowball will start to roll (it might already started in the US with Danica, even if she never gets to F1)

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