Can Women Succeed In F1?

Susie Wolff, Danica Patrick, and Alice Powell, are all becoming household names; the leading lights of women in motorsport. In the 21st century it seems naive to discredit women’s ability to master any discipline, as a  rapidly increasing number of sports open to both genders simply keeps increasing. Consequently, it is understandably baffling to have heard Sir Stirling Moss’ recent statements, in which he discredited the opportunity for women to tame a Formula One car. Will there ever be a woman who can challenge for a World Championship? Moss apparently thinks not.
Whenever a legend of the sport makes a statement, the entire community listens intently. Sir Stirling Moss’ recent comments have proved very controversial and have divided opinion. According to the Brit, women lack “the mental aptitude to race hard, wheel to wheel” in Formula One. A statement which the likes of Susie Wolff and Alice Powell will hope to prove incorrect.
Susie Wolff has been on the brink of the sport for several seasons now. Currently, she is development driver for the Williams team, yet she has far greater aspirations. Wolff has recently stated her desire to apply for a Superlicence as soon as possible in order to open up future opportunities to compete in Formula One. While she has completed several tests for Williams, her chance at a race weekend will only ever present itself when a Superlicense has been attained.
She will undoubtedly take confidence in the success which Danica Patrick has enjoyed throughout her road to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Patrick is widely regarded as the most successful woman currently competing in Motorsport, with this notion affirmed at this seasons illustrious Daytona 500, where she secured pole position. Her fantastic CV does not finish there. Patrick had an incredibly successful stint in the IndyCar Series, where she claimed the prestigious Rookie Of The Year award. Moreover, she currently holds the record for the most races to reach the checkered flag consecutively. Impressive, considering that both disciplines involve relentless speed and close combat. Mr. Moss, I believe you have some explaining to do.
Patrick is a fantastic idol to all women who are looking to further their career’s in Motorsport. Each and every week, she is subject to the “wheel-to-wheel” racing that Stirling mentioned, but at a mind blowing 200mph. The skill required is phenomenal; at least on par with modern Formula One.
Sir Stirling Moss is widely regarded as the greatest driver to never win a championship and I would agree with this judgement. However, it is difficult to understand the justification for his comments, made when speaking to BBC Radio 5Live. In full, he announced; “We’ve got some very strong and robust ladies, but, when your life is at risk, I think the strain of that in a competitive situation will tell when you’re trying to win. The mental stress I think would be pretty difficult for a lady to deal with in a practical fashion. I just don’t think they have aptitude to win a Formula 1 race.”
Immediately after Sir Stirling made his remarks, Susie Wolff stated, “I don’t know where to start after hearing that interview. I’ve got a lot of respect for Sir Stirling and what he achieved, but I think we’re in a different generation. For Moss, it’s unbelievable that a female would drive a Formula 1 car, which is fair enough. In the days they were racing, every time they stepped into a car, they were putting their life on the line. But F1 is much more technologically advanced, it’s much safer than it was.”
I totally agree with Wolff’s response. In the 1960’s, a Formula One driver would consider death as an occupational hazard. When a driver sat on the grid, they realized that the day may be their last. Fortunately, the incredible contributions of Proffesor Sid Watkins and company have made Formula One a much safer affair. In a sense, Moss’ comments may be more applicable to days gone by, where women and Motorsport were not a sensible concoction. The likes of Susie Wolff and Alice Powell are as adept as any male drivers they have come across. They will have had to beat them in order to rise through the Formula’s. While it may be a while before we see a woman book their place in the Formula One hall of fame as a World Champion, it is not out of the question. Sir Stirling, I am sad to announce that on this occasion your statement lacks validation.

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