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.”

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.