First things first, sport is meant to be entertaining. The unpredictability, the drama, and the displays of skill and athleticism are all reasons why we watch it.
Sometimes Formula One falls short on the first two, hence the introduction of the budget cap, sprint races and many other rule changes brought in over the years in an attempt to ‘spice up the racing’. How ironic it is that on the weekend where Michael Masi returned to the F1 paddock for the first time since Abu Dhabi 2021, the talk is once again about how the rules have been applied in ways they weren’t intended – and the debate on how far Formula One should go to supply entertainment reignited once again.
It looked like the race was heading to a very predictable conclusion, with Max Verstappen cruising to victory, as Lewis Hamilton looked to be doing just enough to hold on to second from Fernando Alonso. That predictability was shattered, however, when Kevin Magnussen lost a tyre after hitting the wall. The Dane pulled off-track, but with his left rear stricken on the racing line, people’s thoughts understandably turned to a virtual, or even a full, safety car. This was initially the case before the decision was made to red flag the race, as the amount of debris on the circuit would have led to the race finishing under the safety car.
Many drivers voiced their astoundment at this decision, both during and after the race. There had already been one red flag, after Alex Albon had crashed out, in another situation where it seemed like a safety car would be sufficient. This second stoppage meant there would only be two laps of racing action left, effectively giving fans a super short sprint race. Which turned out to last less than a sector, with three accidents before turn three leading to a final stoppage, and the race finishing under the safety car – exactly the scenario that the race directors were trying to avoid.
The red flag led to what could be known as ‘Schrodinger’s lap 56’. On the one hand, the lap never happened, as the final restart was carried out using the positions from the end of lap 55. On the other hand, both Alpines, Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant had been eliminated from the race in the chaos, with Carlos Sainz receiving a 5-second penalty for spinning Alonso, even though the Aston Martin had now technically lost nothing in the spin. In normal situations, a 5-second penalty is annoying, but this penalty effectively equalled a disqualification, dropping Sainz to the back of the field with no chance of recovery.
Of course, safety has to come first in Formula One, and the safest way of clearing up debris after an accident is ensuring that no cars can come near the marshals, hence the need for safety cars and red flags. But the amount of red flags and safety cars in recent seasons has led to rumblings that they are used as a tool to close up the pack and inject excitement into races which seems a foregone conclusion. This alone isn’t a bad thing, as long as it is clear when this is going to happen, so viewers, drivers and teams aren’t left guessing what decision the FIA will make today. Team bosses made comments in a similar vein, with Christian Horner and Toto Wolff being in rare disagreement that they want to see races finish under a green flag, but it should be clear what the procedure is with late-race incidents.
Fans want to be left on the edge of their seats by what they are seeing out on track. If it feels necessary to stop a race to add to that excitement, then perhaps the sport has bigger problems that no amount of flag-waving will solve.
Verstappen wins a chaotic Australian Grand Prix under very confusing circumstances. Hamilton finished P2 in a mixed day for the team while Alonso finished in P3 for the third time this season despite nearly being taken out of the race by Sainz in a dramatic restart towards the end of the race.
Lights out and Verstappen came straight across to cover off the advances of Russell, but his attempt was not successful. The reigning world champion did appear to exercise some caution with a slower exit from turn two. He seemed to be struggling.
Behind them, Leclerc had made a good start but Stroll was coming up close behind him. Leclerc turned into turn three but Stroll had taken the apex of the corner and tapped his rear right-hand side. Leclerc went for a spin and ended up in the gravel, ending his race prematurely.
At the same time, Verstappen leaves enough gap for Hamilton to be alongside him into turn three. It was a brave move from the seven-time world champion but he makes it through the inside of Verstappen. There were a few complaints on the radio but everything was deemed a lap one racing incident.
The safety car was deployed with a Mercedes one-two. On the restart, Russell made sure he pulled a gap to his teammate and the now-frustrated Verstappen. Everyone got a clean lap with Hamilton and Verstappen closing gradually on Russell. The driver from Kingslynn was on the radio asking if he is to defend against his teammate or preserve his tyres but he was answered when they called him into the pits for a new set of hard tyres. Russell came out in P7 on lap 6, but just one lap later it would prove to be the wrong decision.
Albon lit up the rear tyres into turns six and seven and spun straight into the barrier, projecting gravel all over the track. Albon was out and initially, the safety car was deployed. But the FIA needed time to get rid of the gravel on the track and brought out the red flag.
This gave everyone a free choice of tyres before the restart but was unfortunate timing for Russell. They rolled out on the formation lap before lining up on the grid for the restart. Russell was down in P7 with work to do while Hamilton was in P1 with Verstappen alongside.
Most drivers were on hard tyres so at the restart it was obvious they couldn’t get the immediate grip they wanted. Verstappen struggled again with the standing start but Alonso backed out of a move on the outside of turn one due to the lack of temperature in his tyres.
The lead for Hamilton wouldn’t last long though. On lap 12 Verstappen had DRS and a superior pace around the outside of Hamilton to take the lead of the race. Meanwhile, behind them, the other Mercedes made his way up into P4, past Gasly.
Sainz and Perez were also making their way through the pack. Sainz made turn three his new favourite overtaking spot but getting past Norris and then Tsunoda in consecutive laps. Perez used his extra pace to make it up to P13 before the next major incident.
Without warning, on lap 19, flames began to spit out the back of Russell’s car. Mercedes later suggested it was a power unit failure. However, Russell was able to safely stop at the end of the pitlane and get out of the car. This brought out a Virtual Safety Car and closed the pitlane. Therefore there were no changes of tyres for anyone and the race got back underway once the flames had been put out.
Perez continued his good form by making it into the points with a fantastic double move on Piastri and Tsunoda on lap 23. Piastri and Tsunoda had been battling for the majority of the race at this point, so when Piastri finally made the move on the Alpha Tauri on lap 29, the home crowd roared.
By lap 32 the race had settled into business as usual. Verstappen was setting consistent fastest laps, but Perez was able to make the most of DRS zones and get his name on the fastest lap board. Hamilton and Alonso then entered the fastest lap chat as they closed the gap to Verstappen.
At this point, the teams were considering a second stop due to potentially being on the hard tyres for 49 laps by the end of the race. The battle was mostly between Aston Martin and Mercedes trying to work out who would jump first.
However, their questions were answered when, in a strange incident, Magnussen lost his rear right tyre. It appeared that on the exit of turn two, he just went too wide and hit the wall, losing his tyre and bringing out another safety car, and eventually the red flag two laps later.
It was all set up then for a two-lap sprint to the finish with everyone changing to soft tyres. It would be another standing start as stipulated in the rules. As the cars lined up on the grid it looked as though Verstappen was very far forward in his box. He was however his wheels were still on the line and therefore in the box.
Absolute chaos ensued at the restart. Verstappen got away well with Hamilton hanging on the P2. Behind the Sainz had made a good start but he hit the rear of Alonso in front causing the Aston to spin on the exit of turn two.
Behind them, Gasly locked up into turn one and ended up across the grass before getting back on the track. As he arrived on the track he didn’t see the car of his teammate on the outside of turn two. Gasly veered back to the racing line but collided with Ocon pushing both into the wall and out of the race.
Perez also took a trip across the gravel but made it out safely, while at the back Sargent locked up into the back of De Vries. Both got stuck in the gravel and were out of the race. Unsurprisingly the red flag was deployed again but this led to some confusion about restarting for a fourth time.
With everyone back in the pitlane the clock was on lap 58 of 58, meaning only one racing lap left. Any laps behind the safety car count as racing laps so it appeared the race would finish behind the safety car, but the question was what order would the cars be in.
At the British Grand Prix in 2022, the red flag came out before the cars had made it through sector one so they went back to the last known order of the cars, the grid. This was a similar situation. The red flag came out before Verstappen made it to turn five, meaning they didn’t have any timings for drivers after the restart and would have to go back to the order from the grid on lap 57.
Once the crashed cars had been taken out of this grid order, it meant that Alonso was back up in P3 with Sainz in P4, Piastri in the points and Hulkenberg down in P8. This frustrated Haas as Hulkenberg was up in P4 after the carnage at the start. To rub salt in the wound for them, Sainz was given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision with Alonso.
After a re-shuffle of the cars in the pitlane, they headed out on the final lap. At the end, the safety car peeled off and Verstappen took the chequered flag with Hamilton in P2 and Alonso in P3. Sainz attempted to create a small gap but with the cars bunched up he dropped to the back of the pack and out of the points.
Only 12 cars finished the race and McLaren managed to capitalise on this with both cars getting points. Piastri was extremely happy to get his first points in F1 in his first home race and he gave plenty for the home fans to cheer about after a long race day.
We now wait until the end of April for the next race, but I imagine this won’t be the last we hear of the restart procedure for that time.
Max Verstappen will once again start from pole position in tomorrow’s Grand Prix but, for the first time in his career, he was the fastest in qualifying in Australia. He will be joined on the front row by Mercedes’ George Russell with World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso on the second row. Once again, the reigning World Champion came out on top after an exciting session. Thanks to cooler temps and weather, every driver stayed out for the full session setting times throughout the session to maintain tyre temperatures.
Q1 began with rain in the air so most drivers opted to go out onto the track straight away. Alex Albon briefly led the time charts but, when on an even quicker lap he put a wheel onto the grass at the second to last corner and lost the red end of his Williams, he managed to recover to the pitlane.
Just after that Sergio Perez locked up and beached his Red Bull in the gravel and mud turn 4. The Mexican was the first driver out of qualifying. The session restarted with 12 minutes remaining.
The session ended with Max Verstappen once again quickest, The five drivers who didn’t make it through to Q2 were Perez in his stranded RedBull, Bottas in the Alfa Romeo, Sergeant in the Williams, the second Alfa of Zhou and then home favourite Oscar Piastri in the McLaren.
Q2 again started with the whole field trying to get some laps in, the tyres were taking longer to warm up here so each driver was choosing to do longer runs and get some temp into the tyres.
Lando Norris took a quick trip through the gravel trap that Perez succumbed to, but the Brit managed to drive through the gravel and back to the pits for some new rubber.
It was another session where everyone seemed to fuel up for the whole session and keep doing laps to keep the tyre temps up and get some consistently quick lap times in. Once again Verstappen led the field by just 0.227 from Alonso in the Aston Martin. Out of Q2 were De Vries, Magnussen, Norris, Tsunoda and Ocon.
The threat of rain was still in the air so everyone came out early for Q3. Verstappen was first across the line setting a time of 1.17.578 but was unusually scruffy from the 2-time World Champion. He was beaten by Hamilton, Alonso, Russell, Sainz and Leclerc but went on a second run and moved ahead of the field again. He then went quicker again on his final run with a time 0.236 quicker than second-placed George Russell.
Third was Lewis Hamilton, alongside him was Alonso in the Aston Martin, then Sainz, Stroll, Leclerc, and Albon with Gasly and Hulkenberg rounding out the top ten.
A grid is set up nicely for the race on Sunday, with the same conditions forecast the first few laps will be very interesting as people struggle to generate heat on the tyres and get a grip. Will Verstappen again pull away in the Red Bull or can Mercedes fight against them with Fernando Alonso in the mix as well?
We are back down under for round three of the Formula 1 World Championship. This time the story seems slightly more predictable with the Red Bulls dominating the first two races. Australia has a new home driver to follow but his team has been all change in the last few weeks.
A Team Battle at the Front
It seems that Red Bull are in a league of their own when it comes to winning races. They dominated the first two rounds, and if it wasn’t for a driveshaft failure in qualifying in Jeddah, both could have been Verstappen wins.
However, starting from P15 most fans thought he was still on for the win. Perez had an answer for everything the double world champion had to throw at him. It is looking like this championship battle may come down to these teammates.
The question now is if Perez has what it takes to beat Verstappen or will Red Bull continue their form of having an obvious number-one driver. Alternatively, will they get in each other’s way and leave a gap for an on-form Alonso to claim his third title?
McLaren Changes Things Up
Unfortunately, the season has started the way that McLaren would have liked. As a result, the team have decided to make a few infrastructure changes internally. James Key, their executive technical director, exits and in his place will be three new technical heads.
Peter Prodromou, Neil Houldey, and significantly David Sanchez, who has come from Ferrari, will be taking their positions under the team principal Andrea Stella. They will be hoping they can turn the fortunes of the woking-based team around.
For McLaren fans from Australia, they will want their new home favourite to have a strong performance, similar to his qualifying pace in Jeddah. Pisatri replaces Ricciardo as their driver for his first home race in Formula 1, so he wants to put on a good show for the crowd.
Qualifying starts at 6am BST on Saturday and the Race is at 6am on Sunday.
Formula 1 will be racing at Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix until 2035. The new 10 year contract starts in 2025 and comes with the addition of Formula 2 and formula 3 to the schedules from 2023.
Formula 1 raced in Melbourne for the first time in 1996 and has been entertaining us ever since. However, the pandemic meant that we missed out on the Australian Grand Prix for two seasons running but this year it saw 419,000 fans attend the race.
We also saw all the upgrades made through investment from the circuit promoter and organisers. It brought lots of attention and came back with good reviews from fans and drivers. This looks to improve fan experience over the next decade.
Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO, Formula 1, said “The race has always been a favourite for the fans, drivers and the teams and Melbourne is an incredible and vibrant international city that is a perfect match for our sport. I want to thank the Victorian Government, Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria and Martin Pakula, Minister for Tourism, Sport & Major Events for their tireless support for the event in Melbourne, as well as Andrew Westacott and Paul Little from the AGPC for making this already long-term partnership secure for the future. We are all looking forward to being back in Melbourne next season with all our fans.”
This weekend we see the return of the sprint race which had mixed reviews last year. However, they have been a few changes to the rules and couple of new hosts in an attempt to make the sprint race format work better for 2022.
The sprint race is still a 100km dash to the line with no mandatory stops. There are still only 3 races on the calendar which will host the event as sanction by the FIA because the teams are also getting to grips with the new regulations. This year Imola and Austria will join Brazil in hosting an event which allowed Hamilton his 25 place come back over last season.
There have been two major changes to note, the first is the points for the sprint race. In 2021, only the top 3 drivers would get points, with P1 getting the maximum of 3 points. For this year the top eight drivers will get points, with P1 getting a more desirable 8 points down to P8 who will get 1 point. This means that there is a maximum of 34 points available to the drivers in one weekend (win sprint race, Grand Prix and fastest lap).
The other thing which caused much confusion amongst fans was that the winning driver of the sprint was awarded pole for the weekend. This year, the FIA and Formula 1 have out their heads together and decided common sense means that pole is now to be awarded to the fastest driver in the qualifying session on Friday. They will start the sprint race on pole and the winner of the sprint will start the Grand Prix on pole. Much simpler.
Ferrari’s Home Ground – Part 1
This will be the third time in as many years we have had two Italian races on the calendar, and with Ferrari at the top with seemingly nothing to stop them, the tifosi definitely have something to shout about now. So is there anyone that can stop them?
Max Verstappen finally broke his ‘Italian curse’ at Imola last year but in 2022 his car appears to be less reliable despite its pace. This adds an element of unpredictability to the Red Bull race weekend, and at 46 points behind Leclerc, Verstappen will be looking to take advantage of the sprint race.
Sergio Perez is currently the most consistent Red Bull driver, picking up the podium at Albert Park last weekend. However, as the only definite second driver on the grid at the moment he will be used to help out Verstappen when his car is working properly.
A loss for Red Bull means a Mercedes gain as they have been there to pick up podiums when they became available. They are, however, still struggling to tame the porpoising enough to get the full potential out of the car. Mercedes did make some improvements in Albert Park though so they will be looking to capitalise on any positive developments they can make.
Alpine’s have been really solid so far this season, and if it weren’t for a bit of luck in Melbourne then Alonso may have had a closer fight to Verstappen as his car gets faster. McLaren also took a big jump in Australia. They were competing for the last few positions in rounds one and two, but they finished P5 and P6 respectively at Melbourne.
It will be an interesting weekend with the return of the sprint under the new regulations, as well as improvements for teams up and down the paddock as they start to get used to the 2022 cars.
Qualifying starts 4pm GMT on Friday, the Sprint is 3:30pm GMT on Saturday and the Race starts 2pm GMT on Sunday.
Charles Leclerc took the latest win in the growing rivalry between Red Bull and Ferrari in Australia. Red Bull are trying to stay in the battle but with another DNF for Max Verstappen this is not how to keep up the fight.
It looks as if a fuel leak caused Verstappen’s engine to shut down and catch fire on lap 38 of the Grand Prix. It doesn’t appear as if it’s same issue which caused a double DNF for Red Bull in Bahrain but that was also a fuel system issue. However, Verstappen had been nursing an issue for the entire race before his retirement. Luckily for them though Perez was unaffected in Australia and picked up P2.
These reliability issues are understandably causing Verstappen and Red Bull to become frustrated. In a post-race interview with Sky Sports, Verstappen explained he was aiming at P2 because he couldn’t fight Leclerc but “we didn’t even finish the race, which is pretty frustrating and unacceptable”.
In response, Christian Horner simply said, “I’d rather fix a fast car the make a reliable slow one”. But how can they expect to be really in the battle if they can’t consistently finish races? Only finishing one third of races is not a statistic which the reigning world champion will want to continue for much longer. The Ferrari of Leclerc was obviously in a league of its own in Australia and Horner’s opinions may be inaccurate if they can’t keep up with him even when the car is working.
Leclerc is now ahead of everyone else by 34 points in the driver’s standings with George Russell in P2. To add to Red Bulls pain Mercedes will smirk at Horner’s philosophy as they sit higher in the constructor’s championship with their relatively slower, but more reliable car. This is due to them picking up the podiums which Red Bull couldn’t keep hold of in Bahrain and Australia.
It’s becoming more and more likely that Red Bull will be fighting Mercedes for points if they can’t resolve these reliability problems, leaving Ferrari out in front. Further to this they will become more reliant of Sergio Perez for points meaning the dynamic in that team may need to change.
It’s no secret that Perez is the number two driver at Red Bull, but he seems to treat the car with a little less aggression compared to Verstappen. This means that it could be possible that reliability issues may come more often to Verstappen’s car. Along with the hard battles which we have already seen between him and Leclerc, potentially leading to future incidents.
If Red Bull learnt anything from last year, it should be that they need both drivers to be consistently at the top to secure the constructor’s title. Mercedes had both Bottas and Hamilton fighting for the team, picking up points and ultimately winning the constructor’s title for the 8th time. This is the sort of attitude they will need to adopt to disturb Ferrari’s apparent comfort at the top.
Fortunately for Red Bull, in Australia Carlos Sainz had a weekend to forget. His qualifying session did not go well with an eventual red flag meaning he started the race in P9. Then on lap 2 he went too wide at turn 9 meaning he ended up in the gravel trap and was out. He had an electrical issue all weekend which didn’t affect his teammate.
Looking forward to Imola, Ferrari will want to capitalise on their momentum to bring a win for the tifosi. Red Bull want to upset that by coming back stronger like they did in Jeddah. The key to this championship appears to the reliability and consistency. We are only 3 races into a 23 race calendar so now is when Red Bull need to fix their problems if they want to be at the top by the end of the year.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc converted pole position into his second victory of the season at Albert Park, as Max Verstappen failed to finish with hydraulic issues.
The only time the victory looked in doubt for the Monegasque driver was after the second safety car, when a slow restart gave Verstappen an opportunity to attack into turn one, but Leclerc held on to extend his championship lead to thirty-four points over Mercedes’ George Russell.
In the end, even if Verstappen had made the overtake it would have been inconsequential, as Red Bull’s reliability issues reared their ugly head once again, with the Dutchman’s car failing at the start of lap 39, just seconds after he had set the fastest lap of the race.
Sergio Perez secured his first podium of the season in second place, as Mercedes matched their best result of the season from Bahrain, with George Russell leading Lewis Hamilton home in third and fourth.
It was Hamilton who had the best start out of the front runners, jumping from fifth to third on the run towards the first corner, overtaking Perez and Lando Norris. One man who did not have a good start was Carlos Sainz, dropping five places as he struggled with the hard tyres. Tyre warmup was the least of his concerns on lap two however, as the Spaniard went deep into turn nine, losing the car over the grass and ending beached in the gravel. This is the first time Sainz has failed to score points since the French GP last year.
Perez was able to work his way back past Hamilton in the first stint, but the Mercedes driver looked to be managing his tyres better, and was briefly able to make the overcut work on the Mexican driver, before Perez struck back with a bold move around the outside of turn ten.
Lewis may feel aggrieved that it was his teammate who scored the podium, and not him. Russell admitted afterwards he had been fortunate with the timing of the second safety car, which was brought out by Sebastian Vettel’s miserable weekend coming to an end in the barrier at turn four. This allowed Russell to take advantage of a cheap pit stop to come out ahead of Perez in third, but the Mexican was soon able to make his way past the Briton.
It was a much more promising race for Mercedes, who looked to be matching the Red Bulls on pace at times throughout the race. McLaren also had their best result of 2022, with Norris just finishing ahead of home hero Daniel Ricciardo, as they finished fifth and sixth. Esteban Ocon secured seventh for Alpine, in what was a very quiet race for the Frenchman.
This was the first race at the Albert Park circuit since 2019, and since then changes had been made to the track, most noticeably the removal of the chicane at what was turns eight and nine, in an attempt to improve the racing. There was no doubting the effectiveness of this in the midfield, with the different strategies leading to some brilliant battling.
Lance Stroll pitted twice early on, and this allowed him to climb as high as ninth at one stage. However, worn tyres combined with a five-second penalty for weaving on the straight meant points were always going to be a difficult task, and the Aston Martin dropped down the field in the later stages.
Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly finished eighth and ninth respectively, with Alexander Albon securing a shock point for Williams in tenth. After starting on the hards from last, the Thai driver was forced on to a different strategy by the safety cars. Whereas Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen took advantage of the virtual safety car caused by Verstappen’s retirement to change onto the medium tyres, Albon stayed out on the hards.
He eventually pitted on the penultimate lap (the latest allowed by the regulations), coming out on a fresh set of softs to secure the Grove-based team’s first point of the season. Alonso and Magnussen struggled with the graining that dogged many of the front runners in the early stages, finishing comfortably outside the points.
Although Leclerc took victory in Bahrain, this was the first time this season where the Ferrari looked comfortably clear of the Red Bull in race pace. The Formula One calendar heads to Imola in two weeks time for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which will also host the first ‘sprint race’ of the season.
We are finally back in Australia to go racing for the first time since 2019. When we arrived in Albert park for the beginning of the 2020 season we saw a press conference before FP1 on the Friday announcing that the weekend was cancelled after a paddock member tested positive for COVID 19.
Albert Park has undergone significant changes in a bid to make the racing more interesting and to enhance the new regulations which so far have proven to add excitement. Turns 1, 3, 6 and 13 have been widened to allow for harder attacking and defending.
The most significant change comes between turn 6 and 11. The old chicane at turn 9/10 is gone so its now flat out from turn 6, through turns 7 and 8 to what used to be turns 11/12 which is now 9/10. The back straight will now be used as the new DRS zone.
Ride onboard with us for a lap around Albert Park! 🤩
Red Bull and Ferrari have now taken one win each with Ferrari seemingly having the upper hand with both cars on the podium in the first two rounds. They are providing us with the battle at the front which we needed after an epic season-long fight last year.
Melbourne is a typical street circuit which means qualifying is very important. But with these two teams and specifically Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen made it very clear in Jeddah that this isn’t a problem for them.
The best of the rest
Mercedes have dominated Melbourne since 2014, but with their recent issues keeping up they don’t look like they can get past 5th and 6th. They will very much be hoping that the changes at the circuit will benefit them.
Haas and Kevin Magnussen seem to be their closest competitor. The last time out in Melbourne Magnussen had his best finish of 2019 in P6. He has already past that by getting P5 in Bahrain. He is currently the main competitor for Mercedes and will be looking to continue the momentum.
Good news for Aston Martin as Vettel has been cleared to race at Albert Park after having COVID and missing the first two rounds. Hulkenberg has done a great job for the team as a super sub putting in solid drives with no time in the car before the season.
The race starts live at 6am GMT. Make sure you tune in to our commentary on Twitter spaces for qualifying and the race.
Very recently, I saw an article appear on my phone’s Google news feed about a former racing driver who had starting uploading adult content to her OnlyFans page. Renee Gracie is an Australian woman whose racing career has spanned Aussie racing series such as Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, the Super2 series which is the feeder category to the Supercars, and then Supercars itself. Gracie took part in the Bathurst 1000 in 2015 and 2016, both times with Simona de Silvestro which made them the first all-woman pairing at Bathurst since 1998.
Gracie’s racing career was never sparkling and she didn’t set the world alight with her results, and it wasn’t long after her final year of racing in Super2 that she walked away from motorsport for good, citing her reason for hanging up her helmet that it’s no longer her passion. Then she gets dragged into the spotlight by daring to sell pictures of herself online, and she’s getting a respectable amount of money to live off of, the amount? Not important. I’m probably not doing any favours by bringing more attention to it, but I just had to say something because it really irks me.
Immediately, I have seen people say very demeaning things about Gracie, shaming her for making a living off of something which clearly sells. I’ve even seen a person say “Imagine showing your daughter a woman who should be her inspiration just for her to go do porn”, it’s really sickening to see these remarks.
There’s this very territorial culture about what grown women can do with their own bodies. Whether the issue is that they should be better role models, or that what they do is shameful, they’re selling out etc. The very same people who will publicly belittle her but will be the first to frantically search for her content when they get the opportunity.
I know I’ll get the very toxic people who will inevitably say that I’m ‘simping’ for Gracie, for daring to defend a woman who is selling pictures of herself online. This attitude towards women is frankly abhorrent, and you have to ask yourself why do you have a problem with it? Men sexualise women all the time, but when women sexualise themselves, it’s trashy for some reason?
This deep-rooted misogyny isn’t just exclusive to women who earn money by selling nudes and provocative videos, it’s in all forms of life especially in motorsport. Every time I see a W Series article or a woman in motorsport being covered in some capacity, all I see are just demeaning and bigoted comments about them.
Whether it be about Sophia Flörsch when she had her Macau crash and I saw comments about how if she had been a man, she would have reacted in time, or the people who say that the only reason that Tatiana Calderón isn’t good is because she’s a woman. Or if it’s the likes of someone like Carmen Jordá who tries to mask her incompetency behind the fact that she’s a woman, not helping the notion that women aren’t at the level of men and should not compete against them.
That’s why I was against the W Series at first before I realised what its aim was and have grown to appreciate it for what it is. There’s always a surface level guttural reaction to seeing a woman in racing, that it’s a gimmick and it’s not looking for the best drivers to compete.
Unfortunately as is the case in motorsport, you do need to potentially appeal to sponsors with a reason as to why you may be marketable, and that’s a reason you may find a lot of women racing. Current F1 driver Alex Albon was born in London to a British father and a Thai mother, and after being dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2012, he had the opportunity to gather sponsors from Thailand due to the fact that he was one of very few drivers at that level from there, even though he was born in Britain.
Though whilst Albon didn’t seem reluctant to call himself Thai, I know there’s a lot of distain from a lot of women in motorsport to be labelled as such. I remember when Sophia Flörsch got a race seat halfway through the FIA F3 European Championship in 2018 and the commentator kept on referring to her as ‘Lady Racer’, when saying ‘the sole woman in the field’ would probably have done just fine.
But Flörsch has quite rightfully been fed up of these remarks and playing into these pre-conceived notions that people seem to have about women in racing. She’s been openly critical of the W Series (albeit probably a bit too much when she’s made snide comments towards some of the women who do compete) and flat out refuses to compete, which she’s well within her right to do.
Attitudes won’t change overnight, and you’ll always find the odd person who will never stop being bigoted. It’s true that since 1950, only two women have ever qualified for a Grand Prix and motorsport will always be male dominated. For every 95 men in racing, there’s probably about five women and out of those, only a select few will be talented enough and maybe those are the ones who don’t have the opportunities.
I know in my heart of hearts that there’s a woman out there who will be F1 world champion, whether that’s Jamie Chadwick or maybe even someone’s unborn baby girl, I know one day it will happen.
Yes, I started this article talking about a former driver who started an adult film career, but these awful attitudes towards women is prevalent everywhere. Renee Gracie got a lot of stick as racing driver and undoubtedly is getting more as an adult film actress, and everyone who is trying to belittle her for making that choice, shame on you.