International Women’s Day 2020: Interview with Sophia Flörsch

  Sophia Flörsch has what promises to be an exciting season ahead of her. The German racer is making the step up to FIA Formula 3 with Campos Racing, as well as entering several races in the European Le Mans series, including the 24h of Le Mans. She’ll be part of an all-female line-up, sharing the car with Katherine Legge and Tatiana Calderon. We asked Sophia her views on the season ahead, as well as talking budgets and her aims for the future.

Alison Finlay: An exciting year ahead for you Sophia, with an all-female Le Mans entry and Formula 3. What are you most looking forward to this season?
Sophia Flörsch: I’m looking forward to each single race I am able to do to be honest. There is no difference for me between a FIA Formula 3 race or an ELMS race. For me it was really important to be racing FIA F3 this year. The F3 car is great and all 30 drivers are one of the best in junior formula classes. The complete starting grid is very close together. It will be a great season with a lot of learning and fighting for me. Each race weekend has something special. It’s always on F1 weekends which is something new to me. The tracks are great and some are even new to me, like Bahrain or Sochi, for example. As the Red Bull Ring is one of my favourite tracks, I am looking forward to that one in particular. The atmosphere in Austria is one of the best. On the other hand I am going to do ELMS in an LMP2 with Richard Mille Racing and 24h of LE MANS! It will be a new and different challenge for me as it’s endurance racing but it’s going to be great. Of course Le Mans will be amazing. I am really thankful to be able to race there this year. That’s definitely a dream come true. 100 million TV viewers worldwide – wow. This one week will for sure be one which I will never forget.

AF: You’ve tweeted recently about the costs of the junior series. Can you describe the barrier this creates for young drivers?
SF: Well, I think everyone knows that motorsport is really expensive. Even in F1 you see teams having different budgets performing differently just because they do not have the same possibilities. That’s pretty much the same in junior classes. If you are lucky, and your parents can afford the yearly budgets between 1-2m, without any problems, and even pay for you to go testing or keep racing during the winter period, then that’s amazing. You are a privileged driver because of more and better testing and possibilities. But if your family is not able to afford it, you need people to believe in you and support you. Already when you start with F4 people spend up to 800k per year. That’s a big bunch of money. The higher you get, the more expensive it gets. F2 is more than 2m a year, F3 in a top team more than 1.3 to 1.5m. The most expensive cockpit I heard this year is 1.9m – don’t know if it’s true. The [team’s] experience, their race engineers and so on – the better it is, the more expensive it is. So there is a reason why parents are paying the highest price. The struggle is that not having the money you need to perform well [means having] to find people to give you money to race. But to perform well you should be able to go testing as much as the others, or at least drive in a team where you can do good races just because the car is quick enough. But for that you need money… so it’s kind of a circle which you need to try to get out of by having good races, fighting, showing people that it really is your dream and that they are the ones making it possible to live my dream and achieve my goal.

credit © Dutch Photo Agency

AF: How are you preparing for the 24 hours of Le Mans? And how exciting is it to be part of an all-female entry?
SF: Well, we are racing the ELMS as well which will be two race weekends before Le Mans already. It’s just going to be 4h races but of course that’s already going to help to get a feeling for endurance racing. I will for sure do a lot of simulator preparation to get into the rhythm and focus on long stints. Watching videos and some 24h races from the years before to learn. A lot of contact with the team and the other two women. It’s an huge honour to be racing 24h of Le Mans and also with an all women line up is super cool. We want to perform – that’s our goal to 100%! To get the possibility thanks to Richard Mille and FIA Women In Motorsport is amazing and we will make the best out of it. Of course in an endurance race everything can happen and there are more things you have to take in account, but the luck will be on our side.

AF: Are you happy with your performance in the F3 test? What are your aims for the season?
SF: I am only happy when I am winning a race or I am P1. That’s 100% sure. But to be realistic it was the first time for me back in a formula car again since Macau 2019. Not a single test day during the winter season. No experience on new tyres. And to understand the Pirelli tyres is really important. In those three test days at Bahrain my main goal was to develop myself, work together with the team and get in a rhythm with the car again. I think I ticked those boxes in Bahrain. In testing you never know where you really stand because everyone is doing different tyre strategies and everyone tries different stuff. Free practice and quali will be the sessions when we really realise where we are. As it’s my first season in F3 and as I did not prepare during the winter in F3 there are no high expectations. This season will be a year for me to learn, to get used to the car, to enjoy, to get better as a race driver and to have good races. If I am ending the season with Top 10 finishes and also well performing [well in] quali then I think it should be a good starting point on which to build up for 2021.

AF: What does the future hold beyond 2020 for you, and is it dependent on performance this year?
SF: The plan is to do FIA F3 again in 2021, and after that, two years of FIA F2 with strong partners and an equal backing would be great. That’s how my next years should look. I want to sit in a race car as much as possible. When I make it to be highest class of formula racing, either F1 or maybe than Formula E, I want to be a proper racing driver who has had enough preparation and years in the junior classes. Of course performance is always important. I want to show that I am the quickest. In motorsport this key factor does not just depend on talent. Money and the budget you have for every single season is probably even more important as I mentioned before. To be able to go testing during the winter, or maybe even do another series during the winter, and to race with a leading top team, you need money. That’s what I need to be able to perform and to reach my next goals

International Women’s Day 2020: Women and Motorbikes

  Women have always had a love of two wheels with the start of the bicycle which gave them freedom and mobility and then when motorcycles came along they enjoyed them as much, if not more, as they were economical and fun – a perfect combination.

  It was after the introduction of front and rear shocks that people began to consider riding for longer distances and in 1915 a mother/daughter team, Avis and Effie Hotchkiss covered some 5,000 miles riding from New York to San Francisco and the following year, two sisters, Adeline and Augusta Van Buren rode up and down Pike’s Peak on a pair of Indian Powerplus Bikes covering some 3,300 miles over two months. Can you believe that they were arrested at one point for publicly wearing trousers!

  In the 1920’s, Bessie Springfield, who was known as the Motorcycle Queen of Miami, couldn’t get a motorcycle licence to start with until a police officer intervened on her behalf. She then went on to make 8 solo cross country trips and was a dispatch rider. Can you imagine today not being able to go and get a motorcycle licence simply because you are a woman.

  Of course during the war, women played a vital role many of whom were motorcycle disptach riders delivering urgent messages and orders between headquarters and military units at a time when telecomunications were limited and insecure.

  In the 1930’s motordromes or ‘wall of death’ were increasing in popularity. This is basically a giant barrel which riders on their motorcycles, commonly known as ‘daredevils’, ride around the inside of the walls at speed. There is a giant platform at the top for spectators. Early lady daredevils were Margaret Gast, also known as ‘The Mile a Minute Gal’, May Williams and Jean Perry.

  By 1940 The Motormaids had been established which was the first women’s motorcycle club in the US. Today there are hundreds.

  How or why do women get into riding motorcyles? Well pretty much how or why the same reason that men do. Because their other half rides; their mum/dad used to ride; their mates ride, transport to work. Just because they want to.

  For me, my journey into motorcycles progressed from my love of anything with an engine in it. I used to compete in off road motorsport for a number of years. I have had several classic cars. I have always liked bikes but my parents would never let me have one.

  I used to go pillion with a friend and after a while I thought ‘I want to ride a bike myself’.

  I told my other half that I wanted to get my bike licence and he said it was too dangerous and I wasn’t allowed to!

  So I did what any normal petrol head girl would do – I went and did my CBT and bought a bike to learn on without telling the other half. Six months later I passed my test and bought a Honda Hornet 600. I now ride a Kawasaki Z900 and an MV Agusta Brutale 910.

  I have now been riding for 6 ½ years and I absolutely love it, I wish I had got my licence years ago. I try and get out for a ride most weekends. I have been on three European holidays and already have two more booked for the coming year.

  In the short time that I have been riding I have seen a rise in the number of women riding motorcycles and the bikes geared for women, for example, lower seating positions available, modern lighter bikes have also made it easier. Of course, woman are just as capable of riding the same bike as a man just as a man can ride the same bike as a woman.

  Also on the rise is the range of clothing and accessories available for women. Indeed when I first started riding I found it hard to find clothing that would give me the protection I need whilst offering me comfort, style and value for money.

  I am pleased to say that over the years manufacturers have stepped up and woken up to the fact that women are a big part of the motorcycle community and what a fabulous, welcoming community it is and one that I am proud to be a part of.

International Women’s Day 2020: Interview with Juju Noda

   Juju Noda has a lot of pressure riding on her young shoulders.

The Japanese star – who turned 14 last month – has received a lot of international attention over the past few years as a result of driving various single-seaters in her home country despite her young age.

By the age of nine she had already tested F4 cars, holds the F4 lap record at the Okayama International Circuit, drove a Formula 3 car at the age of 12, and competed in a Japanese category called Formula U17, which uses F3-spec cars, when she was 13. Bear in mind, Max Verstappen was 16 when he first drove an open-wheel car.

Unable to progress any further in Japan until she is 16 due to minimum age restrictions, Noda has moved to Europe for the 2020 season, where she will be competing in Danish F4, and was kind enough to speak to us for International Women’s Day here at The Pit Crew Online.

Jenny Rowan: How would you reflect on your 2019 season?

Juju Noda: It was a very good season. I managed to drive F3 hard and I even managed to break lap the lap record of F3N Class (Dallara F312 with Volkswagen Cox engine) at Okayama International Circuit. I also won all four races of the season.

JR: There has been a lot of hype surrounding you and your career – how do you feel about the attention you’ve been getting and how do you deal with it?

JN: I think it is something necessary if you want to be competitive and professional. If you cannot deal with it, that means you are not good enough. To be honest, sometimes it is a bit hard to handle but I always do my best.

JR: Do you see your age as an advantage or a disadvantage when it comes to competing against drivers who are potentially several years older than you?

JN: In the future it will be an advantage but right now it is not. Instead, there are many limitations regarding what to drive and where to drive and it is a bit inconvenient.

JR: Have you already tested the car you’ll be driving in Danish F4 and, if so, how did it feel?

JN: Yes, I drove it in Spain in January and February. The car is quite heavy and not very forgiving but I must get along with it if we want to be competitive. I feel like I want to be friends with it and get along well!

JR: What ambitions do you have for the 2020 season?

JN: I want to learn and enjoy the season as much as possible. Hopefully towards the second half of the season I can be competitive. But I don’t want to be impatient.

JR: What are your ambitions more widely regarding your career?

JN: I want to be one of the best drivers in the world and reach places like Formula 1, Formula E, Le Mans, IndyCar or NASCAR. I will do my best to succeed!

Featured image courtesy of  Sergi Garcia”

International Women’s Day 2020: Women In Motorsport by Emily Linscott

  I’ve been in motorsport for just four years now and if it weren’t for my mum and dad, I doubt I would have even thought about getting involved in it to be honest.

  Since starting I’ve raced very few girls in karts or cars, and I’ve often talked about why there aren’t many of us in it to my parents. My feeling is that parents of boys and girls have historically chosen to keep with stereotypical roles, so the boys might get taken karting and girls to dancing or stuff like that. I think it’s changing but it needs to change rapidly and at an earlier age, and that way teams, organisers and the like will understand that girls are every bit as worthy as boys, they can be as fast as boys, faster even, and that the physicality side of driving any race car is not beyond a girl. We are equally good.

  I’ve been lucky enough to have great support from another female driver, Indy 500 driver Pippa Mann. Initially that came from a chance she gave to six deserving young drivers through her scholarship with the Lucas Oil School of Racing, but since I proved I had serious pace, she’s gone way beyond to help me reach my potential.

  Shift Up Now, run by Lynn Kehoe and Karen Salvaggio, is a collective of women helping women in motorsport for whom I became an ambassador from 2019 onwards. They too have been supportive of me and a number of other girls through their tireless work to get more girls into better cars, more often. Without people like Lynn, Karen and Pippa, there are a lot of girls who wouldn’t be driving anything at all by now, so imagine what number of girls would be getting behind the wheel of a car or kart if more of us did the same. If just a few more drivers have their time to helping other young drivers develop, or even start something that helps you g girls get into Karting then the chances of a girl reaching F1 and IndyCar would be massively increased.

  But motorsport isn’t just about drivers, it’s about so many other roles too, such as engineers, data analysts, mechanics, team owners, bosses, crew chiefs – the list is endless, and all can be filled by women. It’s very cool that diversity is coming through into these jobs and more and more girls are seeing their dream jobs in motorsport materialise more and more frequently.

  I very much hope to push my career as a driver further and further up the ladder to F1 or IndyCar for myself, but in doing what I’m doing, and every other female racing driver out there doing the same, we’re showing young girls that they can get involved in racing and be great at it and hopefully, we are also changing the way people perceive the motorsport world too.

 

If you want to learn more about Emily, visit her website www.emilylinscott.com or her social media channels
Insta emi_racing
Twitter: @emily_linscott
FB: @emilylinscottracing

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Bia Figueiredo for International Women’s Day 2019

Bia Figueiredo has had a glittering career in motorsports that spans from Indy Lights to Brazilian Stock Cars. As the first woman to win an Indy Lights series race and the first woman to win at a race car event at the Iowa Speedway, she defined motorsport history and inspired women around the world with her positive attitude and impressive racing. For this International Women’s Day, Bia answered a few of our questions on her career and what it’s like to kick the trend in motorsports. Because this girl can!

 

Jade du Preez: How did you get into karting when you were young?
Bia Figueiredo: Since 3 years old I’ve shown passion for cars and speed. I would stay in my dad’s car turning the wheel for hours. I would ask for mini cars together with dolls. My parents decided to take me to a go-kart track and I loved it. I was lucky enough that they had an open mind by that time and supported me in the sport.

JdP: When did you start to think that you could make a career out of racing?
BF: When you are a kid you are sure you will make it easily to the top. Growing up I’ve realized that it wouldn’t be that easy. Because of that I started to focus on racing and left to the side my teen life with friends, boyfriends and parties. So, by 16 I decided to do that and put all my energy into racing and finishing school.

JdP: How do you think motorsports has changed for women since your breakthrough season in 2009?
BF: Actually I believe 2008 was THE year for women in Racing as I won in Indy Lights, Simona da Silvestro won in Atlantic and Danica Patrick won in IndyCar. On 2010 I made it to Indy 500 with the record of 5 women. So I believe it brought attention to other female drivers working hard to get to a top series.

JdP: You’ve had a few issues with funding over the years, and as a result had to miss races, do you think this would be an issue if you were a man? 
BF: Funding is the biggest problem in racing for male or female racers. At the beginning of my career in karting people wouldn’t support me because they thought a girl would never reach Indy Car. But after winning so many races it has changed a lot.

JdP: And how do you think the issue of female drivers struggling to get funding can be solved?
BF: There are not many women around the globe that are passionate for racing and speed. And not all of them have the support to move up. I believe if you start winning, things will start to change. Funding was always a problem when I struggled to get good results. So I started to work harder to do things different from guys like working better with social media , TV and others. And kept working hard to win races.

JdP: You’ve had such an incredible career, what is the highlight for you?
BF: The highlight is to be able to live from racing. I had support from so many people that believed in me and it is good to know that winning so many races, reaching the top and live from what I love to do make them all proud.

JP: And looking forward, what goals do you still want to reach?
BF: I moved from open wheel to V8 Cars in 2014 and feel that adapting wasn’t  easy. In Brazilian Stock Car where 30 cars can be in the same second I was able to reach a top 5 and many top 10. But for me the target still is a podium and a win. The same in IMSA where I should run a few races with Heinricher Racing/ Michael Shank with amazing drivers like Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen. I can’t thank Jackie Heinricher and Michael Shank enough for giving me a new chance in the USA.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Noemí de Miguel for International Women’s Day 2019

As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day, we spoke to Spanish F1 journalist Noemí de Miguel about her love of sports, her work for Spanish broadcaster Movistar and more.

Emily Inganni: Where did your love of sports first start?
Noemí de Miguel: From my childhood. I grew up in my grandparents’ house and my grandfather and my uncle (still single then) loved sports and we didn’t watch another thing on TV. You only have to choices: love it or hate it. And seems that I felt in love with sports.

EI: Was it always your aim to become a sports journalist?
NM: Indeed. I have been always focused on being a sports journalist and guided my studies and my career to get it from the very beginning.

EI: Why did you decide to switch from football to Formula 1? How did the opportunity with Movistar come about?
NM: I felt stuck. I had been working hard to be the best football journalist possible but my position on the company, my contract and opportunities to raise better conditions weren’t what I expected. I felt frustrated working on my dreamed job and at the beginning, I thought that the situation would change in some moment. But nobody changes anything for you. You must do your way. Then, they offered an opportunity working on F1 and I accepted the challenge because you can watch F1 and follow the races but developing yourself as a journalist following the Great Circus is very demanding. I was studying for months to prepare myself.

EI: How did you feel when you first came into F1? Were you intimidated at all?
NM: In Melbourne in my very first grand prix I was nervous and the jet lag didn’t help at all. I had been studying, reading and researching all kinds of information, speaking and asking some specialists, but it was my time to prove I was capable of doing a good job; as good as I considered I did working for 10 years on football. And many people tried to pressure me and criticised me for being there coming from football and doubting about my knowledge. But I overcame all those circumstances and my confidence grew quickly. I was very welcomed on the paddock for the main F1 representatives, drivers and colleagues. And soon people on social media changed their minds. It’s a good learning experience to leave your comfort zone, face the difficulties, localise your weaknesses and work hard to fix it.

Source: Noemí de Miguel Instagram

EI: F1 is still very male-dominated, what do you think needs to happen to get more women into the series, in roles both on and off the track?
NM: Fortunately, off the track, there are more and more women coming to play important roles. And the opportunities for a driver is about to happen soon, Tatiana Calderon is in pole position. The problem is the culture of motorsport in women, something in which FIA is working on and also Dare to be Different. As the girls would be educated in the culture of everything is possible for them and every single job is appropriated for them and get away the idea of male and female jobs the number of girls aspiring to be F1 driver will increase, the options of talented drivers also.

EI: Do you think there has been much progress for women since you started working in F1?
NM: It’s been a long way but there are more projects running to help the development of female drivers and more women working on F1 teams.

EI: What would be your advice for anyone trying to get into sports journalism?
NM: Respect sports and athletes because they are who play the main role. Work hard, you never know everything, be focused, openminded, a good teammate and enjoy the opportunity. And if you are not happy just change yourself and move on for the next challenge.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Sabré Cook for International Women’s Day 2019

Sabré Cook hit the headlines last year when she won the Renault Infiniti Engineering Academy scholarship at the US GP, but her story goes much further back than that. She balances careers in both racing and engineering , chasing her dreams and encouraging others to follow theirs.

Emily Inganni: What inspired you to start racing?
Sabré Cook: My father used to race motocross and supercross professionally, and he and my mother didn’t want my brother and I racing motorcycles so we got into karting. Things started out slow, they even called me driving miss daisy at first! I remember getting teased by one of the boys about him being faster than I was and that really didn’t sit well and just flipped a switch for me. I remember telling my dad through tears that if I had a proper kart (I had an old one just for fun as I wasn’t too serious about racing yet) I could win. Well, he got the kart and the very next race I won. From then on I was hooked and my competitiveness and passion only grew from there.

EI: You’ve raced in both USF2000 and F4 United States in 2018, how would you compare the two series?
SC: Both USF2000 and F4 are a great platform for starting along the ladder system to professional open-wheel racing in the US. USF2000 has great competition and provides unique opportunities being paired with the IndyCar calendar. F4 also has good racing, the amazing venue pairing with the US F1 GP at COTA, and the overall cost is lower. Both are good series fielded with talented drivers.

EI: What drew you to the engineering side of the sport?
SC: I’d always enjoyed school, specifically math and science subjects. Growing up working on my kart with my dad only fed my interest in the science behind motorsports. Then throughout school, I was blessed with several amazing teachers who nourished my desire to learn.

EI: How did the opportunity with Renault’s INFINITI programme come about? 
SC: The Infiniti Engineering Academy (IEA) is a global opportunity available to all engineering and science-related undergraduate and graduate candidates. The program offered by the IEA is the only program in the world that offers a placement for young engineers that stretches from the road car side of the industry to the motorsports side. And not just any motorsports, it’s Formula 1. Having access to work in F1 is a treat very few engineers get. Candidates can apply online and learn more about the program at www.academy.infiniti.com. I highly recommend checking it out!

EI: What was the selection process like?
SC: The process first begins with submitting your CV online and taking a short test at www.academy.infiniti.com. Candidates are then selected to be a part of the Skype Interview phase. From there only 10 are chosen from each of the 7 global regions to compete at their respective regional final. (The seven regions being Europe, Asia & Oceania, Canada, US, Mexico, China, and Middle East.)
Each of the finals extended over two days. On the first day, the 10 finalists complete several challenges including an engineering exam, individual interviews with the judges, and team challenge created by Harvard University; after that, we were divided into two teams to build an RC car and then compete against the other team in a drag race. Three of us then progressed to the second day, which took place in the Renault F1 Team garage at the Circuit of the Americas the day before the Formula 1 US GP.
On the second day, myself and the other two finalists that made it through completed a technical F1 challenge; this challenge varies per region and it is normally designed by one of the Renault F1 Team technical partners (Pirelli, Castrol, etc.); ours was designed by Perkin-Elmer and it was about diagnostics and trying to find suspect substances in a sample taken from the air filter of the F1 car. This was then followed by the media challenge, which essentially is a simulated press conference with a 30-minute grilling from journalists.
The judges then selected a winner and the announcement was made in front of the Renault F1 Team garage by Nico Hulkenberg. It was a truly amazing experience, to say the least!

W Series Driver Selection.
Melk, Austria.
Monday 28 January 2019.
World Copyright: Zak Mauger/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _54I4037

EI: What will your 12-month placement at Renault involve?
SC: The Infiniti Engineering Academy placement offers 6 months at Infiniti Technical Center and 6 months at Renault F1. I’m currently at the beginning of my placement as a Vehicle Test Engineer at the Infiniti Technical Center. I will be working as a Composite Design Engineer for the second half of my placement when I transition to Renault F1 in the middle of 2019.

EI: Women are still in the minority in both racing and engineering, have you seen progress being made during your time in the industries, or is more change needed?
SC: There is certainly an increasing number of women involved in STEM-related jobs, and of course I hope this trend will continue. Racing is a different story, as the number of females involved seems to come in waves. The core issue is that not enough girls are starting at the roots in karting or other introductory levels. Most girls are not encouraged or know motorsports to be an option for them. I was blessed to have parents that believed I could do whatever I put my mind to regardless of the activity or my gender. The more parents that encourage their daughters, the more women in the industry that speak out, take action, actively support programs to get girls more involved, and publicly put out there that little girls can choose motorsports as a career path, the more likely it is we will see the number of female racers steadily increase.

EI: How are you going to juggle your racing and engineering commitments this year, will one have to take priority?
SC: I’ve balanced racing and school/engineering since I can remember. Time management, having the right focus, and asking for help when you need it are all key.  Engineering and racing go hand in hand, so one skill is always helping improve the other. I am very blessed that the Infiniti Engineering Academy fully supports my passion and ambition to continue racing, and vice versa with my racing partners understanding and supporting my desire to be an engineer.

EI: What does the future hold for you in both racing and engineering?
SC: Truly I cannot be sure, and it will depend on how this year unfolds. That’s life though, the route to your goals never goes exactly to plan. My goals remain the same though, to be an IndyCar driver or F1 Race Engineer… or both! Life is unpredictable, so I cannot say exactly what my path will be. All I know is that I am going to work as hard as possible to achieve my dreams.

EI: What advice would you give to any youngsters dreaming of careers in racing or engineering?
SC: Go for what you want, and don’t let the fear of failing hold you back. Believe in yourself. Learn from every opportunity and keep everything in perspective. Positivity is a choice. Embrace every event, even if it seems less than ideal, there is always something to be gained.  But most of all NEVER GIVE UP!

Jamie Chadwick: The Next Female F1 Driver?

At 20 years old, Jamie Chadwick has already achieved several impressive feats, starting with becoming the first female British GT champion in 2015, and, in 2018, becoming the first woman to win a British Formula 3 race.

February this year also saw her become the first woman to win the MRF Challenge championship, taking 3 out of 5 wins at the final round and snatching the title lead from Max Defourny on the penultimate day of the season. Chadwick won the final race in style, starting by launching her car between the two front-row starters and up to first, where she remained, fighting off a charge from Patrik Pasma behind her. With the race and the season complete, Chadwick now had her first single-seater championship title under her belt, a moment that she described as ‘huge’ for her career.

Could Chadwick continue to build on her achievements so far and carve out a path to the very top of motorsport that could potentially see her as the first female Formula 1 entrant in over 25 years?

Source: Jamie Chadwick Website

In 2019, half the Formula 1 field will be 25 or under. The concern that accompanies this is that there could be limited space for new recruits over the next few years, so, in order to join the fold, drivers will have to produce something really special. Chadwick’s next steps will therefore be crucial in deciding whether she has a chance of making it to F1 or not.

Chadwick’s plans for 2019 include taking part in the inaugural season of the women-only W Series. Alongside this she is expected to race with Aston Martin, although the details of which category this could be in are yet to be announced. Having also taken part in the Formula E test at Ad Diriyah with the NIO team, she was invited back to test with the team in Marrakesh in January, so perhaps this could also lead to further opportunities in future.

Chadwick must surely be one of the favourites among the 28-strong list of hopefuls still in the running for the 18 seats available in the W Series. However, while she is expected to have no problems getting through the final qualifying round, she may yet face tough competition from any number of women, some who have experience in other categories, but are thus far untested in formula cars, as well as those who are returning to racing single-seaters after several years away, like the formidable Alice Powell. The W Series will allow also Chadwick, as well as the other racers, to build up valuable seat time in F3 machinery, which she should then be able to put to good use in future years.

Chadwick is a wise head on young shoulders. She doesn’t tend to boast about her achievements, or make grand claims about what she will accomplish in future, and makes no excuses if things don’t go her way. At the same time, she is confident and sure of her capabilities. All of this would surely make her an ideal candidate for a place in an F1 team’s junior academy.

However, so much of what happens at the junior levels of racing relies on what could almost be considered luck: getting the right results, in the right championships at the right time. If Chadwick can continue to work hard, get results, and put herself in a position to be noticed, then there is every chance that we could see her lining up on a Formula 1 grid one day.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Alexa Quintin for International Women’s Day 2019

As Head of Media and Communications for both F2 and F3, Alexa Quintin surely has one of the most whirlwind jobs in the motorsport world, being at the track for between ten and twelve hours each day during a race weekend. She was kind enough to speak with us for International Women’s Day 2019.

Jenny Rowan: How did you first become interested in motorsport?
Alexa Quintin: I was raised to love it: my father was a racing driver in Gordini Cup and prototypes. He started his career in Morocco back in the 60s. He met my mother when she was appointed as his mechanic. She was a professional swimmer but she wanted to try something new. They met at what is today’s Renault F1 engine factory at Viry-Chatillon. Although my dad had to stop his career when they got married, his passion for motorsport and most particularly Formula One never ended. Every Sunday our eyes were glued to the TV to watch the Grand Prix.

JR: Had it always been an ambition of yours to work in motorsport?
AQ: I was not necessarily aiming at working in the sport. I was more interested in the movie industry or in writing. I started my career in television, but after a couple of years, I had the opportunity to join Prost Grand Prix. Once I became part of this industry, it felt like the right place for me: it’s fast-moving and very demanding. It’s exciting!

JR: What does an “average” race weekend look like for you, if indeed there is such a thing?
AQ: It’s always such a hard question to answer… There are so many tasks to cover from catering for the media to liaising with FOM and the FIA to dealing with social media platforms, press conferences, meetings, drivers’ appearances, and also to handling a thousand little things that are
thrown your way at the last minute. You get to the track very early and leave pretty late. The average time spent at the circuit is between 10 and 12 hours. During that time, you walk a lot, run a fair amount, direct traffic, send many emails, WhatsApp and Skype messages, talk to about a hundred different people, etc. Some days, you may feel overworked, but when the dust settles, it always feels gratifying.

JR: How important is social media to your role and has it changed the nature of your job over the years at all?
AQ: It’s become essential and it has changed my views on how the job should be done. Nowadays Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat are part and parcel to people’s lives. For most people, these media platforms are the primary source of information right in the palm of their hands. It’s the fastest way to communicate, but it can also be a means to start rumours and spread false information. It’s a powerful tool, but one that needs to be used wisely.

JR: Out of all the drivers you’ve worked with, is there anyone who stands out as having impressed you the most?
AQ: I have been working in motorsport for almost twenty years now and over this period of time I have been very lucky to cross paths with incredible talents. If I have to name a few, I would say the ones that stood out in GP2/F2 were Nico Hülkenberg, Stoffel Vandoorne, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell.

JR: What has your experience of being a woman working in motorsport been like?
AQ: Working in motorsport has been very rewarding professionally speaking. I never felt like I was an oddity in what appears to be a man’s world. In fact, there are a lot of women in charge of PR in motorsport.

JR: What advice would you give other young women aiming to work in motorsport one day?
AQ: Not to sound too much like Lady Gaga at this year’s Oscars but if you can dream it, if you work hard enough to achieve it, if you have the right attitude, there is no reason you can’t succeed.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Victoria Guppy for International Women’s Day 2019

Victoria Guppy is an ambassador for Dare to Be Different and works as a senior engineer at a major engine company, specialising in new technology.  Previously, she worked in Formula One as a trackside engineer. To mark International Women’s Day 2019, we spoke to Victoria to discover more about the path she took to succeed in engineering, and to find out about the rewards and challenges that working in motorsport presents.

Alison Finlay: Can you start by telling us about your job and what it involves – what does a typical day look like for you, or is every day different?
Victoria Guppy: My job at the moment involves working on hybrid technology so I am doing a lot of research and going to conferences and trying to get up to speed on the latest electrification technology before the first Hybrid project starts. I’ve also been working with another team to resolve some issues they have with a new project.

I particularly enjoy problem solving. It is something that has been part of my job for my whole career and I find it fun trying to get to the root cause of an issue and find a solution. I have a bit more time to do this now. In Motorsport, this needed to happen in a matter of minutes to get the car back out but I have a few weeks now to come up with a solution. A lot of my work has been running engines on test beds to try and replicate the issues seen and then looking at the data. It really can be very different day to day which I love. You don’t have time to get bored!

AF: You previously worked trackside with the Manor F1 team. What are the demands of working at the track and how does it differ from other working environments? 
VG: The biggest thing I struggled with being trackside in F1 is the tiredness and the jet lag and then trying to function at a high level. The days are very long and if you aren’t the sort of person that can sleep on planes or deal with jet lag well then it can be really demanding. My job was relatively stressful, but I really enjoyed that side of it. Especially being out on track with the car before the race starts, however I always used to be so nervous. If anything goes wrong with the car you do not have long to try to fix it before the race, and you don’t want to be the team seen by millions pushing your car off the grid if it has an issue you can’t fix. That was the most stressful time!

It’s a fantastic life for people who are very career driven and place F1 at the top of their priority list in life. I really struggled with being away from my family so much. For each race weekend, you are away the whole week before it, so that adds up, especially when you have back to back races, it can be weeks before you go home. I’m very glad I did it, however personally I was also glad to come out of it. I got to see some great places and you do get a couple of evenings to explore where you are, although this is if everything has gone smoothly with the car build. Although mainly it is the airport, the hotel and the racetrack that you see, but that is the nature of the job. Any sightseeing you get time for is a bonus!

AF: What path do people need to follow to work in engineering roles like yours? What should they study or seek work experience in?
VG: My biggest piece of advice would be to get experience. I started working for a team whilst I was at college, which taught me so much alongside my studies and I carried on working for teams through University. It teaches you to balance work and also reinforces what you are learning at uni, as well as making your CV look far more attractive to potential employers. Just write to people, teams and companies and then follow up by giving them a ring. By the time I finished my studies, I already had six years of experience in the industry. Also, get hands on, buy a car to do up or turn into a kit car even a banger racer. It teaches you practical skills and gives you a lot more appreciation and understanding.
To get to university, I did a Diploma in Motorsport at Bridgwater College, which was fantastic. The course, alongside A Level Maths and Physics, is great to set you up for University and working as an engineer in Motorsport. I then did a Bachelor’s degree in Motorsport Engineering.

AF: You are a Dare To Be Different ambassador – why do you feel this initiative is so important?
VG: For me as a STEM ambassador also, it’s about getting more young people into engineering. As an industry, there is going to be a massive skills shortage if we don’t get more children interested in and excited about engineering.
I think it’s also about overcoming the stereotypes that it’s a man’s world and, yes, it has been, but the industry is on a massive learning curve. Having a diverse workforce means that you have varied ideas. People with different backgrounds and experiences with different inputs. Different characteristics bring with that different skills.

I would love to get to a day where a little girl saying she wants to be a race car driver, or an engineer, isn’t different, but the sad fact of it, is at the moment, it is. So, the initiative is about embracing that, creating a community, supporting each other and saying to younger girls that it’s okay to enjoy this. There are plenty of other women out there that do and have successful careers and it’s about giving them the support, the empowerment and the opportunities to achieve their dreams.

AF: What inspired you to work in engineering?
VG: Quite honestly – watching Formula 1 on TV with my family on a Sunday afternoon.
I once heard a lecturer tell a young guy that wanted to join the motorsport degree that because his only interest had been watching it on TV then he shouldn’t bother signing up. Well, that’s how I started, that’s what piqued my interest and I had no previous experience of engineering or motorsport or had any family members that were ‘in the trade’. I took great pleasure in telling the guy, in front of that lecturer, that as long as you work hard, you can get to where you want to be, even if your previous interest in motorsport is ‘just’ watching on TV. It doesn’t matter what it is that got you interested, the point is that you are.

AF: At the moment there is still an imbalance in the number of men and women working in engineering and in motorsport. Do you think this will change in the future, and what can be done to catalyse these changes?
VG: I hope it can; I think young women are becoming far more empowered to choose the career they want rather than what they think they should have. It’s about getting into schools and teaching kids from a young age that there are female engineers and mechanics and it is possible to do that and for schools to be providing a good STEM education.
However, I am really against just trying to ‘get up the numbers’. Whoever gets the job needs to be the best candidate and having token females just to even out the numbers will do nothing to dispel the myth that we aren’t as good as our male counterparts. So that is all dependent on how many females firstly want a career in engineering, and then go on to do well and succeed in it. Not everyone does and that goes for both genders.
We do still have the generation around that tend to not be as accepting and I have certainly come across a few of them, but if you’re good at your job and do what you need to do then they have nothing to say and it hopefully teaches them that a female is just as capable, no matter their opinion. That’s the only way we are really going to change it for future generations. Carry on doing our thing, doing it well and calling out any behaviour that isn’t acceptable.

AF: Which woman has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
VG: Unfortunately growing up there were not a lot of high-profile female engineers in motorsport. There are certainly a lot more now, but during college Leena Gade was a big inspiration to me. She has won multiple titles and worked her way up through the ranks to get to where she is. She lets her hard work and results do the talking. From some of her interviews, I really like her outlook on being a female in Motorsport. Essentially, if you’re good enough at your job it doesn’t matter if you’re a female, you can achieve what you want to achieve.

AF: Finally, what has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
VG: I definitely had a bit of a self-reflection moment, my first time on the grid when I started working in F1. I just looked down the grid and thought, this is it, I’m here, I made it. All my dreams at that point had come true.