Monday 25th October 2021

Women are rare in motorsport

Reading time approx. 4 Minutes

Racing has always been a male domain. Only very few women in the history of motorsport managed to secure a place in a racing series. In the more than 70 year history of Formula 1, for example, there were only five female drivers who took part in an official event of the premier class. And only two of them managed to qualify for at least one Grand Prix. In other racing series, the historical women's quotas don't look any better. So far there have been 13 female drivers in the DTM, three in Formula E and 27 in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

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In Formula 1, only one woman managed to win championship points, namely the Italian Lella Lombardi. She made her debut in the main racing class in July 1974. At the British Grand Prix, however, she missed qualifying for the race in the Brabham-Ford. She then contested the 1975 season in full for the March-Ford team. Her first race was the South African Grand Prix in early March 1975. However, a defective fuel pump meant that she had to park her car prematurely.

In the subsequent race, the Spanish Grand Prix at the end of April 1975, however, their big hour struck - albeit in an extremely tragic framework. In the 26th lap, the racing car of the leading German Rolf Stommelen overturned, got into the audience and killed five spectators there. Thereupon the race was canceled and the order of the drivers existing at that time was declared as the final result. However, the pilots only received half of the points they would have been entitled to in a completed race. In sixth place, Lombardi received half a World Cup point.

Lella Lombardi Formula 1 women are rare in motorsport

In the DTM, one woman even managed to win a race. The German Ellen Lohr contested a total of 1987 races in the DTM from 1996 to 142. In her second race, the Wunstorf airfield race in early August 1987, she landed in hers BMW M3 in fifth place. At the end of the season at the end of August 1987, she even finished second in the Salzburg Alpine Trophy, making it onto the podium for the first time. Lohr had her most successful season in 1992. She drove hers at the end of May Mercedes 190E In the first run of the racing festival at the Hockenheimring, her male opponent outperformed and won. In addition, she achieved two more podium places in the 1992 season. In the overall standings, she finally finished eleventh. A year later, she even made it into the top 10 in tenth place. She celebrated her fourth and final step onto the podium in the 1994 season.

A blog post by Betway shows why so few women have made the leap into racing. The most important reason is the outdated role model. Motorsport was reserved for men from the start. For a long time, women, on the other hand, could only be seen as scantily clad grid girls on the side of the track. This distribution also has an impact on the promotion of young talent. Usually it is boys and young men who are supported in their training. In addition, girls who are interested in getting into racing hardly have any role models of the same sex. If boys dream of emulating Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton, girls have no female idols. Last but not least, the unequal gender distribution plays a decisive role in the financial aspects of motorsport. To enter a higher racing class, entry fees of thousands of euros are required, in Formula 1 even millions. Because of the media interest, it is mainly men who persuade sponsors to pay such sums.

What is not a conclusive argument, however, are the physical differences between men and women. Not only Lombardi and Lohr have proven that the female body can withstand the forces that prevail in motorsport.

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