Ecclestone considering creation of all-female grand prix series

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Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone is considering the formation of a grand prix championship that is exclusively for women.

There are a number of women working within F1 and a handful of female drivers enjoy some kind of role in the sport and in the wider racing world.

During practice for last year’s British Grand Prix, Susie Wolff became the first woman to take part in a grand prix weekend session in 22 years, running for Williams.

Wolff will get two further practice run-outs this year for the team as part of her test driver role, while Lotus has recently hired Spain’s Carmen Jorda as its development driver.

Speaking to the press in Malaysia and quoted by The Guardian, Ecclestone said that he would like to see an all-female championship created to run alongside F1.

“I thought it would be a good idea to give them a showcase,” Ecclestone said. “For some reason, women are not coming through – and not because we don’t want them.

“Of course we do, because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors.”

The last woman to race in a Formula 1 grand prix was Lella Lombardi at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix, and Ecclestone believes that more would stand a chance of ending this drought by setting up a separate series.

“We have to start somewhere so I suggested to the teams that we have a separate championship and maybe that way, we will be able to bring someone through to F1,” Ecclestone said. “They could race before the main event, or perhaps on the Saturday qualifying day so that they had their own interest.

“It is only a thought at the moment but I think it would be super for F1 and the whole grand prix weekend.”

However, when speaking to MotorSportsTalk last month, Susie Wolff explained how she thinks setting quotas and pushing women into the sport could be counter-productive.

“I’ve always said that I’m not here to change Formula 1,” Wolff said. “I’m not here to get more women into Formula 1. I’m here to be the best Susie Wolff I can be and to achieve as much as I can achieve.

“It’s changing already in an organic way and that’s what pleases me, because no-one is standing behind saying “you need more women!” and “how do you get more women?” – it’s happening already in a good way.

“From that perspective, I think it’s moving in the right direction and I think you need to be very careful trying to put quotas in or push more women in because it just causes resentment.

“It’s fine in certain business situations, but here you get your job if you’re good enough.”

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”