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.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Carolynn Sells for International Women’s Day 2019

The first woman to race the famous Isle of Man TT course as a solo rider was Beryl Swain, in 1962. However, in those days a woman racing caused a huge upset in what was, and some may say still is, a male dominated world of motorcycle racing. So incensed were they by a woman taking part, a weight limit was introduced that Beryl could not meet, thus causing her license to be revoked, ending her racing career just as it was beginning. It was 1978 before the next woman (Hilary Musson) was allowed to compete in the TT, but women would not be allowed to race at the Manx Grand Prix until 1989. It would be almost 50 years between the first woman racing on the Mountain Course and the first female to win a race there.

That woman was Carolyn Sells, and in 2009 she won the Ultra Lightweight Race on the FZR400 Yamaha by Paul Morrissey racing. An ambitious no pit-stop strategy meant she came home with a 62 second lead, and a best lap of 107.780mph. Carolynn retired from racing in 2009, but is still heavily involved with racing in the Isle of Man, supporting Newcomers to the Manx Grand Prix. I’m really delighted she was able to take time out from her busy family & life to answer my questions.

Laura Sawyer: How old were you when you knew you wanted to race bikes? 
Carolynn Sells: About 16, although I didn’t actually get around to it for another 10yrs or so!

LS: What path did you follow from starting out to racing at the Manx?
CS: My dad began racing at the Manx Grand Prix in 1985 and it was there that I decided that, one day, I was going to race there. At the time, women weren’t actually allowed to race in the Manx, but that didn’t even occur to me then.
Life got in the way though and after putting myself through Uni, progressing my career in TV & Film Design and then buying my first house, I finally got around to doing my first race on my dad’s TZ250 a month before I turned 27 in April 2000. I only did 3 meetings that year and then spent the next 2 years aiming to get my National Licence, in order to be able to compete in the Manx Grand Prix in 2003 – the year that I turned 30.

Copyright: Dave Kneen

LS: How supportive were your family and were they behind you from the start?
CS: They were very supportive – dad lent me his bike and then bought my first race bike for me – but I can’t say that he entirely wanted me or my brother to race the roads really (my brother was a newcomer to the MGP at the same time as me). Dad had raced since I was 5 though, so he knew he didn’t get much say in the matter!

LS: You’re now a director of the Manx Motorcycle Club – how do you use that role to support newcomers to the Mountain Course? 
CS: I’m not anymore, but I was for a few years. I am still a Rider Liaison Officer for the Manx and an Official ACU Mountain Course Coach, which means that I teach newcomers about the circuit and what to expect as a newcomer. It is something that I have been passionate about even when I was racing and my goal is to make sure that every newcomer thoroughly enjoys their first Manx and comes home safe and happy. If they’re fast too, well, that’s a bonus!

LS: Aside from the win, what is your next best achievement in racing? 
CS: I think I achieved a fair bit in my short time racing (9 years) and I’m not sure I can pick just one…
I won a solo Motorcycle championship in the Isle of Man (2002) and I won a race at the International Southern 100 (2005) and am the only woman to have done either of those things. I am also still the fastest woman at 4 of the Southern Irish road circuits, despite not having raced there since 2008 and the likes of Maria Costello, and several others have been racing those circuits regularly since then.
Nothing beats my win on the TT Course though, not even close. That was the culmination of 6 years of steadily and quietly working my way up and focussing on the goal.
I also got a Guinness World Record for the win and won Isle of Man Sportswoman of the year too, so they’re pretty special to me.

LS: If you could race again, which meeting(s) would you do, and why? 
CS: The TT and the Ulster Grand Prix… two things I really wish I’d done, but the timing was never right.

LS:  What was the best bike you rode competitively, and which bike do you wish you’d been able to race (past or present) and why? 
CS: Although I had most success on the 400’s, I really did love racing the CBR600RR, it was the best fun and plenty fast enough for me. I always wish I’d had the chance to have a go on an RC30 though…

LS: You’ve always said you don’t consider yourself to be a woman in a man’s sport, and your achievements are certainly something any racer would be proud of. What advice would you give to women who may still feel nervous about progressing with their aspirations because they worry they may be disadvantaged by gender? 
CS: I don’t believe that we are ever disadvantaged by our gender. If you want to do something, get up and do it. It really is as simple as that.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Louise McGrath for International Women’s Day 2019

International Womens Day gives us the opportunity to pause for a moment and appreciate just how far we have come and the wonderful progress that’s been made in the last few years towards encouraging more women to join the world of motorsport.

It’s a chance to recognise those who have been leading the way before us and defying all the odds in what has long been a male dominated industry. As women we too have just as much to offer the industry we love so much. We thank the women who came before us, who knew the challenges they were facing but did it anyway. There are now remarkable women throughout all corners of the industry from engineering to hospitality, from the pitlane to the factory, breaking down stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same.

As a 44yr old wife and mother of three children, I never dreamed I’d start working on a project within the realms of Formula 1, let alone doing it alongside my 18 year old daughter Rachel. She is obsessed with F1 and like me, has followed the sport for as long as she can remember. I think it may have begun when she realised she shared her birthday with Lewis Hamilton! She is gifted in maths and is the only person I know who gets genuinely excited at complex equations! From around 11 years of age, she started to become aware that she could take her love of maths and apply it to the sport. She began to research people like Adrian Newey, to understand the study path he had taken, to try and figure out how to become an aerodynamicist.

We spent hours, days and months on a quest for knowledge but the information was so hard to find. All the careers advisors we spoke to either didn’t take Rachel seriously about wanting to be a motorsport engineer due to her young age and gender, or just didn’t have a clue what an aerodynamicist was! It was a stressful time not only because information and understanding was so lacking, but she was trying to make the right study decisions that she knew would impact her future.

We eventually stumbled upon something called Dare to be Different (D2BD), which is an initiative founded by Susie Wolff and the Motorsport Association to encourage more girls to consider a career in motorsport. D2BD has a group of ambassadors from all across the world of motorsport – from journalists like Rosanna Tennant and Senior Strategy Engineers like Ruth Buscombe, to inspirational drivers like Nathalie McGloin and Maria Costello MBE. These women who have come before us are really leading the way in helping girls to realise that they can make their own unique mark in this exciting and rewarding industry.

D2BD gives us access to a supportive Facebook group of likeminded girls, and the ability to attend networking events where we can meet the D2BD Ambassadors. These meet-ups are always inspirational and you go home feeling like anything is possible! It’s thanks to initiatives like D2BD that girls are beginning to see a career in motorsport as an equal opportunity from a young age and are more willing and able to follow this passion growing up, just like Rachel has.

Being a part of the Dare to be Different community really inspired us and gave us the confidence to see our own project to fruition. We really wanted to help those students still in school and college who were struggling like Rachel, to make it easier for them to find the information about study paths into the world of Formula 1. On our journey we’d learned not just about study options, but about things like the importance of hobbies and work experience, networking and cv building, and all the events and opportunities up and down the UK that not many people know about! And so the idea of Formula Careers was born, a website to house all the information that a student would need to give them the best chance of working in F1.

No-one can predict the path that will lead to that dream job, sometimes it twists and turns in unexpected ways you could never imagine, and so it’s always best to stay flexible. But at least if we can give students a good foundation to work with, they will be more confident in the decisions they make for the future. We want students to realise they are not alone, that we know it’s a difficult and stressful time, that there’s help and support there if they need it from people who understand. To realise that they can take the gifts they have and match them up to the industry that they love!

Being able to speak with the D2BD Ambassadors was really important to us, and so we tried to figure out a way to do that for others and bring students closer to those already working in the roles they dream of. Myself and Rachel set about contacting and persuading as many people as we could from the world of F1 to share their own stories about how they got into the industry. We know these little case studies will really inspire the next generation and show them that with dedication, self belief and passion, it really is possible to have a career in Formula 1.

Formula Careers gives us the opportunity to make our own contribution to the world of F1, so if we can do it then anybody can! It has been an absolute delight to be able to work with my daughter on something we are mutually passionate about. It’s not only brought us closer together, but given us the opportunity to create relationships with key people in the industry. I think people are surprised that we are a mother and daughter team, but I think that makes our project stand out in a good way!

We still get the occasional strange glance when we tell people what we are doing because many still see it as a male dominated industry! But each conversation is a chance to educate others on the exciting changes happening for women in motorsport. It’s thanks to initiatives like Dare to be Different and the amazing, brave women who have come before us that we can move forward with confidence and achieve our own career goals.

On International Women’s Day, we are reminded that all things are possible, and that no matter our circumstances we have the ability to go out and make our dream careers happen.

www.formulacareers.com
www.linkedin.com/in/louise-m-279239138
www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-mcgrath-12a7b1139
www.twitter.com/formulacareers
www.facebook.com/formulacareers

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.