Tatiana Calderón for International Women’s Day 2018

2018 could be a busy year for Tatiana Canderón. The Colombian driver will continue driving in GP3, as well as becoming a member of the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission, which was revealed earlier this year. Also this week she was announced as the Sauber F1 Team’s official Test Driver. As part of International Women’s Day Tatiana answered questions asked by Julia Paradowska.

Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

Julia Paradowska: You became a member of FIA Women In Motorsport Commission. What does it mean for you?
Tatiana Calderón: It’s an honor for me to be able to represent Women in Motorsport, I love this sport so much and the FiA WIM together with D2BD are doing a great job promoting it that I also want to be part and help out wherever I can.

JP: Do you want to take a part of the Dakar rally or 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future?
TC:Absolutely, two of the most demanding races of the sport!

JP: Lella Lombardi is first and only woman to score points in F1. Do you think in 10 years time a woman driver will have scored in F1?
TC: Yes! Hopefully I can be next one to be giving a chance.

JP: What do you like the most in driving a GP3 car?
TC: I love racing any car really but I think what I love is pushing myself to the limit every lap. Trying to improve and GP3 because of the high level of competition and the peak performance of the tyre pushes you to do find those limits in one perfect lap.

Photo: Jed Leicester/GP3 Series Media Service.

JP: You were 9 yeras old when you entered your first karting race. Why did you decide to be a racing driver?
TC: I love the adrenaline, the competition and the speed and once I tried karting it was like I found my real passion. I’m lucky to have discover what I love doing so early in life.

JP: What car is your favourite and what car is your dream car?
My favorite it’s hard to choose, I would for sure would love to have a Ferrari at home and my dream car at the moment the C38
JP: What are your goals for 2018?
TC: I want to challenge for wins and podiums wherever I end up racing and of course drive a F1 car.

JP: What track is your favourite?
TC: Spa is my favorite track because it has all kind of corners. It has some blind corners that bring your adrenaline levels even higher. I just love to go through Eau Rouge!

JP: What do you think about US tracks?
TC: You can’t speak about the US tracks in general because between them they are all different but of course I would like to have more races there. The fans make also a great atmosphere. A great come back to the US tracks could be in Cota hopefully in the near future .

JP: What advice would you give young girls dreaming of being a part of Motorsport?
TC: That they should follow they’re passion, no matter what. There are no limits. If you are patient and work hard you’ll get there!

Alice Powell for International Women’s Day 2018

Motorsport is predominately a male sport, and some people even go as far as saying a woman will never make it to Formula One. However, there are some awesome female drivers out there that are proving gender has no relevance to success in this sport. Though International Women’s Day, we are able to take the opportunity to reflect on these individuals. Bryony King spoke with Alice Powell about her career so far and what the future holds for her…

Photo: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic.

Bryony King:  Career Highlights:
Alice Powell: I would say if I had to choose two then they would be winning the Formula Renault BARC Championship back in 2010 and racing around Monaco in GP3. It was a tough year racing in Formula Renault in 2010, as I struggled with budget throughout the year, so to come away with the title was fantastic.
Racing around Monaco is something I am sure every race driver dreams of. You could say it is not really an achievement, but it is certainly a highlight.

BK: How did your motorsport career begin?
AP: I was always interested in Motorsport, whether it was F1, bikes or rally. My Grandad took me indoor go karting after my 8th birthday and I never looked back. I then moved to outdoor karting just before I was 9.

BK: Did you suffer any discrimination whilst competing at high level?
AP: Not too much at a high level, but once I started to feature more on the news or some odd TV programme, I would get tweets from random people saying females can’t drive etc (that kind of rubbish). I really remember when I started karting that it was worse. I remember lots of karting dad’s speaking to their son’s as loud as they could saying they can’t let a girl beat them etc etc….

Photo: Daniel Kalisz/LAT Photographic.

BK: How did it feel getting large amounts of media attention whilst trying to secure the F1 test?
AP: Some of the facts weren’t correct, so that was annoying seeing some stories which were not true. However, I did not mind doing the interviews and trying to raise awareness of females in motorsport. Again, I got the odd comment from tweeters saying females cannot drive, but I think you will always get that.

BK: How did it feel when you made the decision to stop racing full time?
AP: It was not easy at all. I still hope to have some full seasons of racing in the future, however, as you know, Motorsport is just ridiculously expensive these days. It won’t stop me from giving up though. I have really enjoyed, however, doing more coaching with up and coming talent.

BK: What is it about driver coaching that you enjoy most?
AP: I really enjoy helping the drivers progress and when they are successful, you feel their success. It is great to share it with them. I have really enjoying working with drivers that I have worked with, so far.

BK: Where do you see yourself in the motorsport world on 5 years’ time?
AP:I would like to see myself driving in GT’s at some level. Formula 1 would be the dream, but I have to be realistic unfortunately. I hope to also be still coaching.

The Future of Women in Motorsport | Nicki Shields

On International Women’s Day, and especially this year, it feels like a great time to celebrate the incredible women working in motorsport and give encouragement to future generations of women that will work in our industry.

I’m proud to be a woman working in motorsport and there is a great network of strong, brilliant women doing a wide variety of roles across the industry. Of course, the percentage is a lot smaller than men in the industry, but I do have confidence that as time goes by more women will enter as barriers are broken down and girls become more aware of their opportunities; which will happen if we increase the visible role models to spread the message.

There are many opportunities for women to get into motorsport in and what we need to do is educate girls that they have whatever opportunity they want and that they shouldn’t feel like those jobs are unavailable to them because of their gender.

There are so many different jobs you can do in motorsport – from things like engineering and mechanics, to the media side of it in marketing and PR and, like me, presenting. Then there are roles from HR and finance to legal positions and health and fitness. The only barrier is perception and lack of visible role models. I feel there is starting to be a sea change in attitudes towards this and in girls studying STEM subjects, which is something I’m very passionate about as I studied biological sciences at university.

There are a couple of important initiatives at the moment promoting women in motorsport that I think are fantastic.

Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams F1.

Racing driver Susie Wolff runs an initiative with the Motor Sports Association called ‘Dare to be Different’ which is a community to inspire girls who want to work in motorsport by providing access to these role models and connecting them in the industry. It shows that there is a great community of female talent in motorsport – we just need to make the world aware of it to help it grow.

The FIA (motorsport governing body) is also striving to do important work in this area and already has an FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, which aims to attract young women to motorsport. On 7th March this year, in recognition of International Women’s Day the following day, the FIA will official launch its European Young Women Programme. This is a two-year project based on a cost-effective ‘arrive and drive’ karting slalom format in central urban locations. It will be promoted to young women between 13-18 years old in eight countries and the girls that progress with be supported by the FIA through a sporting and educational programme.

Make sure that you follow Nicki Shields:
Website: nickishields.com
Twitter:  twitter.com/nickishields
Instagram: instagram.com/nickishields/

Beitske Visser for International Women’s Day 2018

As part of our marking of International Women’s Day, we talked to the
promising young Dutch racer, Beitske Visser, on her impressive karting
career, her brief spell at Red Bull, her new partnership with BMW and
more.

Emily Inganni: What first got you into racing?
Beitske Visser: My father used to race in touringcars, and when I was 3 he did a 24h race in karting and I saw a little baby kart and since then I was asking for that kart. my parents found me a bit too young then but on my 5th birthday I finally got it and went directly to the track and started

EI: How did the racing community take to you as a woman? – Were you treated any differently?
BV: I have been in the racing world since I was 5 so I grew up in this world and it’s normal to me, for sure sometimes there are people thinking that I’m not as good just because I’m a girl but as soon as you show you are quick and up there they will respect you.

EI: After such a successful karting career, how did you find the transition to single seaters?
BV: There are a lot of new things you need to learn, but it’ll soon feel normal

EI: What did you learn from Red Bull and what’s it like seeing the likes of Carlos Sainz now in F1?
BV: I learned a lot there, they help you with everything you need also between the races, like physical training and simulator time

EI: You are now part of BMW’s junior programme; how does their programme differ from Red Bulls. How did it feel to win your first race for BMW in the GT4 Series last year?
BV: The main difference is that Redbull prepares you for formula 1 and BMW prepares you for GT, DTM or Formula E.
It was amazing to win in Barcelona, BMW worked very hard to prepare the GT4 and then this was the debut for the car in a race, so to win it immediately is an amazing feeling

EI: Do you have any special number that you like to race with?
BV: No, I don’t really mind the number, but I prefer not to have nr 13

EI: Was there ever a point where you thought you would have to give up racing entirely?
BV: At the end of every year there is Always some time that you don’t know what is going to happen next but I never had the feeling that I had to give up racing, I Always kept working hard to try and achieve what I wanted to race the next year

EI: What has been the best moment of your career so far?
BV: I don’t really have 1 best moment, There are quite a few moment in my career which are really good memories

EI: What’s your goal for 2018 and beyond? – Where do you want to get to?
BV: I can’t say jet what I’m driving this year but for the long term I would love to go to DTM or Formula E

EI: Finally, what advice do you have for anyone looking to start racing?
BV: Just keep enjoying what you are doing and then the speed and results will come

Gosia Rdest for International Women’s Day 2018

It’s safe to say that Gosia Rdest had a pretty good start to her 2018 season, winning her class at the 24 Hours of Dubai in early January behind the wheel of an Audi GT4 entered by Phoenix Racing. Then, she became one-half of the first ever all-female driver paring in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge when she raced an Audi R8 LMS GT4 alongside Ashley Freiberg at Daytona.
As part of our series of interviews for International Women’s Day here at ThePitCrewOnline, Gosia was kind enough to speak to us about her career, and also about how she sees the state of women’s motorsport at the moment.

Source: audi-mediacenter.com

Jenny Rowan: How did you become interested in motorsport when you were younger and what made you want to become a racing driver?
Gosia Rdest: It was a love from the first lap. Once when I was 12 my father took me to indoor karting and it was it. But I remember to also be so angry on that day – because my dad turned out to be faster than me. I wanted to beat him. Later on we made a bet – if I stand on a podium in an amateur karting tournament, he would buy a kart for me to train. And I won.
It’s common for future racing drivers to have parents or somebody else from family dedicated to motorsport who helps them have their first steps into that world. Not in my case. Nobody in my family has ever had anything to do with motorsport so I didn’t have that backgroud. I had to figure things out myself. That passion went out straight from me.

JR: In 2014 you made the jump from single-seaters to touring cars – what made you make the switch and what is your ultimate goal?
GR: Let’s be honest – motorsport is expensive and single seaters are super expensive. I couldn’t afford that. In lower single-seater series, Formula 4 or 3, it’s harder to gain sponsorship than in touring cars cups. Of course I still wanted to race so I switched to touring cars which turned out to be also great. The competition level is very high. My dream and my long-term goal is to drive in DTM. But also to stay in motorsport as long as I can because racing is simply the love of my life. When I will be finished with racing (which I hope will happen as late as possible), I would like to work with young drivers.

JR: How would you look back at your 2017 season?
GR: It was a year of many ups and downs. Two podiums in Hockenheim in Audi Sport TT Cup, 1st place in KIA Lotos Race in Hungaroring, signing a contract with Phoenix Racing, one of the most successful German teams, to race in GT4 European Series in 2018 – theese were definitely the bright moments to enjoy.
It was a year of being extremely busy as I entered two racing series – Audi Sport TT Cup and 5 rounds of ADAC TCR Germany. Meanwhile I managed to gain my Masters Degree in journalism and management in social media. I also became a project manager of my new business concept which is One Day Tour, offering unique tours around Poland.
Finally it was a year of struggle as I faced my worst injury so far – I broke a foot bone during qualifying in Zandvoort. The track was slippery after the rain and I hit a barrier. It was a bad luck. I had no idea it was that serious so I continued the racing weekend and was 4th in the race. On Monday a doctor put my leg in a plaster. I went through an extra-fast recovery process and didn’t miss any race. Maybe sounds crazy but that’s how I am. I never back down. Oh, and I gained a new skill – braking with my right leg.

Gosia Rdest, Philip Ellis, Finlay Hutchison

JR: Huge congratulations on getting your Masters Degree last year! How was it balancing the studying with your racing?
GR: Well, with my tense schedule it was not easy. Some drivers decide to stop their studies because of racing and I completely understand that decision. It was a big struggle to make that all work and I must admit I also managed thanks to my understanding teachers. Well, I had to do tons of additional work to recompense the time when I missed lectures and activities but I’m grateful they let me do this.

JR: You got your first taste of your 2018 car in Dubai in the last few days – how did it feel and what are your hopes for the rest of the year?
GR: Simply amazing. I couldn’t wish for a better start into the new season and a new car. First, I was very stressed, because I didn’t know how would I find myself in a stronger and rear-wheel drive car but after my first practice session I already knew we are going to become best frineds with my Audi R8 LMS GT4. The car is dynamic, fast, aggressive and oh-so enjoyable to drive. And it looks so sexy!
As for my hopes for the upcoming season it is to be fast, competitive and show better and better performance each round. I want to learn as much as I can. I think I stepped onto the right path with joining Phoenix Racing Junior Programme. We have planned together a development path for me, I’m going to test GT3 car later this year. And what’s also very important, the feeling between the team and me is very good. I can feel that strong support and it means a lot for a driver to find herself (or himself) confident and comfortable with the team.

JR: In October you appeared on stage at the Warsaw Moro Show as part of the FIA’s European Young Women Programme – what was that like to be a part of?
GR: I was not exactly a part of that FIA programme. I’m invited year by year to Warsaw Moto Show. It’s one of the biggest motorsport events in Poland. But I strongly support any initiative which encourages girls to step into the world of motorsport. I’m always willing to involve in any action. Lately I was invited by Audi America to team up with Ashley Freiberg in one car in the IMSA Continental Sports Car Challenge at Daytona as a part of #DriveProgress campaign. The aim is to promote women in motorsport. I was proud to take part.

JR: How would you sum up the state of women’s motorsport? There’s lots of female talent around at the moment, including yourself, so do you think things are improving?
GR: I believe in equality at any field and I’m so happy that nowadays girls get more opportunities. Racing is still and will long be a sport dominated by men and that’s why I think it’s especially important for a young girl to get that helpful hand from inside and get the message “you are welcome here”. Not the message “you don’t suit here, go back to girlish stuff” what I personally faced many times, mostly when I was starting my career, not even from drivers but from their dads.
There’s still a lot to be done. Last year I had a little unpleasant episode. We were at the drivers briefing before a race, forty men, two women in a room, discussing the incidents from the last race showed on a screen. There were quite a few and no one commented but when it came to my incident some old driver said in irreverent tone “ah but it’s a girl”. Like it was obvious I’m a girl so I can’t drive. Maybe it was supposed to be funny but I felt like everybody was laughing at me. Of course it was just a silly unpleasant episode but it’s really not OK if you hear such things too often. I mean, yes I’m a girl, but still manage to compete with everybody in the room on the equal rules. I know racing is a tough game and I’m totally OK with that but I’m not OK with disrespectful comments.
But you cannot let such small things go to your head and mess up with your confidence. I know it but I also know that being a girl in a men’s world can be sometimes hard. That’s why I’m always willing to share that message with any girl who wants to race – “you are welcome here”.

But answering your question, generally yes I think things are improving. Society mindset is changing for the better. I’m very happy to see more and more lady racers. I was used to be the only female diver on the grid but in Audi Sport TT Cup 2017 I had two female competitors. The changing room got a little bit crowdy but it was great.

And I’m still waiting for a grid boy.

JR: Do you have any advice for young girls trying to pursue a career in motorsport?
GR: Do not let anyone talk you out of your passion. If you really feel it, if you love it, do it. When you’re fast, you’ll leave bad talkers behind. But be prepared for a hard work because that’s what any professional sport is – a hard work indeed. And motorsport is a really tough sport so be prepared to it and don’t expect any special treatment. I think when drivers put helmets on, the sex doesn’t really matter. You have to show you’re a fighter there but also show a strong character out of the track.

Ah, and don’t forget to have fun!

Molly Taylor for International Women’s Day 2018

Molly Taylor became the first female rally driver to win the Australian Rally Championship in 2016. Even outside of rallying, she clearly enjoys a challenge, having taken part in the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in December last year.
With International Women’s Day on the horizon, we asked Molly a few questions about her aims for the season ahead, as well as what inspires her and how she has overcome challenges in her path to success.

Alison Finlay: I’m sure you work hard on and off the track. What does an average non-race day entail for you?
Molly Taylor: No day is the same, which is what I love about the job. Depending on the calendar it could be anything from going over previous Rally notes to prepare for an upcoming event, travelling to a dealership to attend a function, filming, presenting, or working with the team at Subaru HQ. Preparing physically for the role is also important, so there is always some form of training built around what is happening at the time. Generally a lot of travelling and variation!

AF: How did it feel to win the Australian Rally Championship in 2016?
MT: It was an incredible feeling. A dream I’ve had for so long and although it was a long time coming, it also came sooner than I was expecting to be honest. For me the biggest enjoyment was sharing that sense of achievement with our whole team.

AF: How do you bounce back from a difficult race?
MT: Rallying is a rollercoaster and most of the time there are more lows than highs. For me, the first thing is to realise why the event was difficult and understand how I can learn from that experience for next time. When you have a clear target and know what you need to do, then finding the motivation to get back out there and do better is easy.

AF: What are your passions away from rallying, and do you still get the chance to enjoy them?
MT: My life pretty much revolves around motorsport, so that’s definitely my lifestyle rather than just my job. I love cars in general and am starting my own small car collection. Being a part of that car culture where everyone appreciates these amazing machines & their history is a pretty cool experience. Aside from cars I really enjoy my training and have competed in a few triathlons and just taking up mountain biking. Being an Aussie, water sports are also one of my favourite hobbies! Generally the things I enjoy complement my driving, so it’s a great fit in that regard.

AF: What advice would you give to girls looking to enter the world of rallying?
MT: Do it! It can seem daunting from anyone looking from the outside, but one of the best things about our sport is the people. It’s really like one big family and I guarantee there will be so much support out there to anyone wanting to take the first step.

AF: If you weren’t driving a rally car, but still working in the industry, what job would you do?
MT: I’d love to have my own team one day. I love the engineering and business aspects of the sport so I’d say I’d be in a role which brings them both together.

AF: What’s the most challenging place you’ve raced?
MT: Probably somewhere like Ireland. The roads are really narrow, slippery, bumpy and the conditions are always changing. The locals are also incredibly quick, so it really pushes you.

AF: Did you ever doubt yourself, and how did you overcome it?
MT: All the time and I can still be guilty of it. I think it’s probably more common than people may say. For me, the biggest thing is to just concentrate on my job and what I can control. If I know I’m doing the very best I can do, then usually the results follow.

AF: You come from a strong rallying family – how did this encourage you, and what was the best bit of advice your received from them?
MT: It certainly gave me the exposure to the sport, but there was never any push to get involved myself. It wasn’t until
I was about 16 that I really considered it. I’d say the best piece of advice i was given was to find my passion and then give 100%. Whether it was rallying or not, they would also say to both my sister and me that we had to find a passion for something in life.

AF: How was it driving with your mother, Coral Taylor, as your co-driver?
MT: It was a great experience! And something pretty special, I don’t think there’s many mother/daughters who have competed In the junior world Rally championship together?! She’s the ultimate professional, so when the clock starts it’s a driver/codriver relationship regardless.

AF: What are your aims in 2018?
MT: To win the Australian Rally Championship! We definitely have more unfinished business here..

Ana Carrasco for International Women’s Day 2018

This is a name you may not be familiar with but Ana Carrasco is a woman who should be celebrated in motorsport. Born in Spain in 1997, Ana started riding motorcycles when she was 3 years old. It was clear there was passion there and it appears Carrasco embraced that. Why wouldn’t she?

The Spaniard raced in Moto3 which is normally used as a route to MotoGP. She raced in the series for three years. Regardless of gender, she was just another signed racer. She proved this at Malaysia in 2013 by becoming the first woman to score points in Moto3 World Championship and the first in any class. She did this all being the tender age of 16.

Sian Williams: How old were you when you started racing?
Ana Carrasco: I started when I was 3 years old becuase my family were always relationship with this world, my father is mechanic and he was working on racing in the past and I did my first race with 4 years old.

SW: What drew you to motorcycles as a child?
AC: When I started riding a motorbike was just like a hobby for weekends and free days, I enjoyed a lot so I never wanted to stop doing this.

SW: Did you feel much pressure entering the Moto3 world championship as a female at the age of 16?
AC: Was difficult becuase everything was new, I had ti addapt myself to every situation and was no easy because I was really young. I feel some preasure becuase everybody were looking yo me and the first races were not easy.

SW:Do you feel you were treated differently by people in the paddock because of your gender?
AC: No, I always feel good and confortable inside the paddock.

Source: motogp.com

SW: How did it feel to win in Portugal last year for the first time in dramatic fashion and making history at the same time?
AC: Was incredible for me, was the present of all the hard work se did in the last few years. The races was really really funny so I enjoyed a lot and finished with a victory was unbelieveble.

SW:You’re only 20, what is the plan for 2018 and beyond?
AC: The plan formativo 2018 is fight for the tittle un World Superbike Championship in Supersport 300 class, this is the goal. And looking yo the future I want to be able to to race in MotoGP in some years.

SW: What more do you think/want to achieve?
AC: I try to look always on the seasson that is is starting. When it finish I focus on the next one. Step by step.

SW: Did anyone ever say you couldn’t race because of your gender? And if they did, do you use those comments as extra motivation?
AC: I think some people think is possible and others not but I don’t care so much about this. I’m focus to work with the people I have around and achive our goals.

SW: What advice would you give young girls dreaming or racing motorcycles?
AC: The advice is that is important to enjoy and do what we love so if they like motorbikes just try to do the best they and enjoy always.

Sophie Ogg for International Women’s Day 2018

In her role as Head of Communications at Williams Martini Racing, Sophie Ogg is a familiar face in the F1 paddock. In this interview she talks about working her way up through the motorsport ladder and what life is like in one of the fastest paced jobs in the world.

Georgia Beith: How did you get involved with working for Williams F1?
Sophie Ogg: Motorsport was always a passion and something I just wanted to be around. My first experience was a British Touring Car Championship race at Oulton park that my dad took me along to when I was about 12 years-old and I immediately caught the motorsport bug! I gained some work experience with a local race team, and then built contacts from there. I worked up through a number of race series including Formula BMW, Formula Ford, British GT, A1GP and WTCC before stepping into Formula One with Williams back in 2010.

GB: What does your role as Head of Communications entail?
SO: As Head of F1 Communications, I am responsible for creating and implementing a communications and digital strategy for our Formula One and Heritage operations to support the business aims of the Williams Group. I oversee a two press officers but also work with all the divisions across the company regarding F1 looking after internal and external F1 communications, social media platforms, our CSR programme, announcements, launch events and fan engagement. In a nutshell I take all the information from inside the team, and work out what and how best to communicate it to the fans and media. The role is extremely diverse and a 24-hour a day job, so the challenge is to remain proactive as well as being versatile enough to react to the changing climate both at track and away from it.

GB: What would your typical working day during a race weekend look like?
SO: At the track, race weekends are quite formulaic up to a point. We have a schedule which constantly evolves, social media to manage, news to monitor, media interviews to oversee and content to create and then during sessions I’ll be based in the garage. Whatever happens, it’s up to me to decide how we handle it from a communications point of view, whether it’s a good result or a bad one. It’s also great being able to work with the engineering team as well as the senior management to construct any statements. The main thing people notice in this role is the fast pace at which you need to operate, things change so fast from an accident or failure on track, to a last-minute driver change before qualifying, and all need to be managed accordingly in the moment.

GB: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
SO: There are the obvious things like it being a 24/7 job, dealing with difficult situations or leaks in the media, but the toughest challenges are being reminded that it is a dangerous sport. Everyone involved knows the risks, but it doesn’t stop it being emotionally tough when things do go wrong. I’ve lost a number of friends over the years, Dan Wheldon and Henry Surtees to name a couple, and Suzuka 2014, having to inform our drivers about Jules’ crash following the race, and then us subsequently losing him, is something that stays with you. The support everyone gives each other in the paddock is like a family but times like that are really tough.

GB: What has been the highlight of your time working in Formula 1/motorsport?
SO: One of my favourite memories would be Pastors’ win in 2012, I had to ask someone where to go after the race as I had never recced what do when you win – it highlights the thing I love about racing – the fact that anything can happen! But I’m also really proud of the 40th anniversary fan event we put together at Silverstone last year. Putting together the whole plan for the 40th was fun, but hard work, and that event was the culmination of a crazy idea one day the year before, and a lot of work to pull it all together! It was also incredible to see the fan reaction, and to also be reminded of the goodwill and support Williams had from everyone both inside the paddock and outside. The number of well-known personalities and ex-F1 drivers and champions that turned up is testament to that!

GB: Have you always been a fan of motorsport? Was it always a goal of yours to work within motorsport?
SO: Motorsport was a passion and something I just wanted to be around. Ever since my dad took me to Oulton Park when I was 12. No one in my family was involved, but my nan knew someone who was involved in a local single-seater race team and so passed on a telephone number. I made the call and from that, I started washing wheels and helping out on events, basically doing anything just to be involved and learn more about the sport and make as many contacts as possible in the industry. From then it was never a question, motorsport was where I would always want to be.

GB: Was there ever a time in your motorsport career when you faced challenges or obstacles because of your gender?
SO: To be honest, the only real challenge I had was outside of motorsport. My friends and some of my teachers couldn’t understand my passion for motorsport and so didn’t understand that this was a serious thing I wanted to do. Careers advisers told me to get a more realistic career goal and friends would mock me for not wanting to go out on a Friday night because I was heading to a race track at 6am Saturday morning! Within the industry though, I have never faced any real issues. I think because I worked my way up from the bottom, and had a genuine interest and passion for engineering and racing, everyone I have come across has accepted me, trusted me, and treated me as an equal. When I first meet anyone new, many of them do appear to look at me like I am just another PR person who will be a pain and make their life difficult, but as soon as I’ve had just one conversation and told them what I am about, and why I am there, their opinions seem to change. I do think this is the case for men or women though, people will always find it easier to have more respect for people who have worked from the bottom and travelled the same path as them through motorsport ranks. I would like to think that I have earned my place.

GB: Do you feel life has changed for women in motorsport in recent years? How do you see it changing in the future?
SO: I think it is much easier for women now. When I started there were pretty much no women in the paddock, but I always felt at home in a man’s world because most of my best friends were male – mainly due to me having more in common with them as my favourite things were football and racing cars! But I can see it could be intimidating. These days there are a lot more women though and things are changing to encourage women to follow their passion whatever that may be. Programmes like Dare 2 Be Different are helping highlight all the various career paths as well. I think this will only continue in future. But I do believe that everyone should be encouraged to follow their passion, both men and women. Nothing should stop anyone following their dreams.

GB: As a female role model within motorsport, what advice would you give young girls apprehensive about pursuing a career in such a male dominated industry?
SO: Don’t let anyone tell you that you that you can’t do something. Don’t be intimidated and don’t try to be something you are not. Get experience, make contacts and be prepared to work from the bottom up. Motorsport is more than just a job, it’s a way of life, and so you need to love it to be prepared to work that hard for something I think. All the women I know who are successful in motorsport, from mechanics and engineers, to press officers and lawyers do it because they love their jobs and they don’t see themselves as being ‘different’ or doing something out of the ordinary in any way.