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Women Auto Racing League

Another bad idea whose time has come?

Start of the race, 31 Tom Blomqvist (GBR, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, Dallara F312 - Volkswagen) is taking the lead, FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 1, race 1, Silverstone (GBR) - 18. - 20. April 2014 *** Local Caption *** Copyright (c) FIA Formula 3 European Championship / Thomas Suer

This isn’t so much about auto racing as it is about making money and gender equality.

Formula 1 racing is a huge deal in Europe. It costs about $250 million annually to put a team on the track. That is a gigantic amount of money. Ferrari spends $570 million to field its two cars.

How many women drivers are there in Formula 1. Exactly zero although there have been five women drivers in the past. Is that good or bad or just the way it is?

Of the 503 million fans of Formula 1 worldwide, 38% — or 191 million — are women. There is clearly interest in the sport and also significant opportunity for growth with women fans.

Today a new Formula W series was announced that will be open only to women. The cars will be Formula 3 cars which are similar but not quite as powerful as a Formula 1 car. The cost to run a Formula 3 car is about $750,000 or so. Formula 3 is the feeder series to Formula 1.

Scottish businessman Sean Wadsworth is the financial person for the series and said that “as a former investment banker I live by spreadsheets and I think this one looks fantastic.”

As you might expect, feelings about Formula W breaks two ways; there are those that think it’s fantastic and those who think it’s the most stupid idea in the world.

The people who think it’s terrific point out that there are only so many seats available and adding a new series for women will give twenty more women the ability to demonstrate their ability versus the small number that have made their way into Formula 3. This year driver Jamie Chadwick became the first female race winner in British Formula 3. Formula W gives more women the opportunity to race at a high level increasing the possibility of their moving on to Formula 1.

The people who think it’s stupid point out that there’s absolutely no reason that a woman can’t drive a car equally with a man and that Formula W is more of a money making stunt than a legitimate attempt to bring women into Formula 1. British driver Pippa Mann tweeted today:

Another concern is that even if a women does exceedingly well, they won’t have proven themselves against those men and women driving in Formula 3 which will always cast some doubt on how good they actually are.

I’m curious what you think. Is this a good idea that’s necessary to bring more women into Formula 1? Or is it a bad idea since it creates inequality where none exists? Or do you think this is just a business venture that will live or die on how much money it makes?

Speaking of dying, fifty-one drivers have died from incidents that occurred while driving a Formula 1 car. The last driver to die was Jules Bianchi who died in July 2015, nine months after sustaining severe head injuries during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix when his car slid off the track and hit a recovery vehicle.

Mark Rosneck

Written by Mark Rosneck

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