Behind the inevitable Jamie Chadwick, it’s Abbi Pulling who impresses in the W series. The 19-year-old looks set to be one of motorsport’s best hopes for years to come.
Affiliated with Alpine, the Brit is currently 4th but in the race for 2nd in the W Series by just a few points… and is already being seen by some as the first woman to compete in an F1 Grand Prix since Lella Lombardi in Austria, in 1976. .
However, Chadwick herself has recently expressed serious doubts about the possibility that a woman, due to the physical limitations of the sport and in particular the motor and flying skills, will one day be able to access the queen discipline.
“Formula 1 is extremely physical, and we don’t know exactly what women are capable of in this sport” Chadwick said on the matter. “If you’re 15 or 16 and you get into car racing, without power steering and driving big, heavy cars, a lot of women struggle, even if they’ve been successful in karting. »
“We like to think that women can make it happen, and I’m happy to be the guinea pig and I’ll do my best to push and explore the options towards Formula 1, but we don’t know. There hasn’t been a successful woman in recent times. I’m trying to understand if it’s related to the physical aspect of the thing.”
This opinion is not shared by Pulling. Probably not even.
“That’s Jamie’s opinion, but mine is that with the Alpine program we believe a woman can be fit and sharp enough to compete at these levels.”
“I think it’s possible for a woman to be in F1 in the next five years. I wish it was me, but in any case, it shows the direction motorsport is going and how positive things are for women in this moment.”
Pulling, a member of Alpine’s Race(H)er program (which aims to promote diversity in the sport but also in the Alpine factory, aiming to increase the proportion of women to 30%), does not give, however, Chadwick any discharge, when the affiliated driver of Williams feels that the lack of power steering, or the physical loads required, may be inappropriate for women? Especially in F2 or F3?
“I accept the challenge and I accept it with great pleasure. It’s not me who has to do it, the guys also have to train to drive these cars. It will certainly be difficult for the next few years and I will have to push myself more than I’ve ever done, and maybe more than a man should do, but I don’t think it’s impossible to get into F1.”
“My youth career could be longer, because I have to develop my strength, but if it takes a few more years, it’s always doable. I’m quite small, but since starting my program with Alpine I’ve made great progress and the results show it. »
In the paddock, many drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in particular, are pushing for more diversity in the sport.
Special thanks to his compatriot from Mercedes, who had described F1 as a club of young billionaires, inaccessible especially to women.
“At that moment, he was the one I loved the most, because he is a living legend. I found Lewis amazing, I followed him a lot. »
“Motoring is getting more and more expensive, especially at the bottom. I totally agree with him, it’s almost ridiculous. »
“What counts is visibility for the younger generations. Even if it’s not me entering F1, it could be a girl watching W Series right now who wants to become a racing driver. Maybe he will make it. »