Ecclestone considering creation of all-female grand prix series


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.”

IndyCar Power Rankings: Pato O’Ward moves to the top entering Texas Motor Speedway


The NBC Sports IndyCar power rankings naturally were as jumbled as the action on the streets of St. Petersburg after a chaotic opener to the 2023 season.

Pato O’Ward, who finished second because of an engine blip that cost him the lead with a few laps remaining, moves into the top spot ahead of St. Pete winner Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi, who finished fourth in his Arrow McLaren debut. Scott Dixon and St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who led 31 laps) rounded out the top five.

St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who started first at St. Pete after capturing his second career pole position) Callum Ilott (a career-best fifth) and Graham Rahal entered the power rankings entering the season’s second race.

Three drivers fell out of the preseason top 10 after the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – including previously top-ranked Josef Newgarden, who finished 17th after qualifying 14th.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through the first of 17 races this year (with previous preseason rankings in parenthesis):

NBC Sports’ IndyCar Power Rankings

1. Pato O’Ward (5) – If not for the dreaded “plenum event” in the No. 5 Chevrolet, the Arrow McLaren driver is opening the season with a victory capping a strong race weekend.

2. Marcus Ericsson (7) – He might be the most opportunistic driver in IndyCar, but that’s because the 2022 Indy 500 winner has become one of the series’ fastest and most consistent stars.

3. Alexander Rossi (10) – He overcame a frustrating Friday and mediocre qualifying to open his Arrow McLaren career with the sort of hard-earned top five missing in his last years at Andretti.

4. Scott Dixon (3) – Put aside his opening-lap skirmish with former teammate Felix Rosenqvist, and it was a typically stealthily good result for the six-time champion.

5. Romain Grosjean (NR) – The St. Petersburg pole-sitter consistently was fastest on the streets of St. Petersburg over the course of the race weekend, which he couldn’t say once last year.

6. Scott McLaughlin (6) – Easily the best of the Team Penske drivers before his crash with Grosjean, McLaughlin drove like a legitimate 2023 championship contender.

7. Callum Ilott (NR) – A quietly impressive top five for the confident Brit in Juncos Hollinger Racing’s first race as a two-car team. Texas will be a big oval litmus test.

8. Graham Rahal (NR) – Sixth at St. Pete, Rahal still has the goods on street courses, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan remains headed in the right direction.

9. Alex Palou (4) – He seemed a step behind Ericsson and Dixon in the race after just missing the Fast Six in qualifying, but this was a solid start for Palou.

10. Will Power (2) – An uncharacteristic mistake that crashed Colton Herta put a blemish on the type of steady weekend that helped him win the 2022 title.

Falling out (last week): Josef Newgarden (1), Colton Herta (8), Christian Lundgaard (9)