Coulthard: Next female F1 driver has to be able to take on Hamilton or Verstappen
Just six women have participated in a Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend. And while former McLaren and Williams driver David Coulthard would love to see that number grow, he feels any newcomers to the sport – be they men or women – should be capable of taking on the likes of Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen in a straight fight.
Coulthard, the advisory board chairman for the all-female W Series launched in 2019, admitted recently - in response to a question from an F1 Fan Voice member - that he’d been sufficiently impressed with the performances of a number of W Series frontrunners to believe that they could progress to F1 in the future – but only if they can stand up to one key criteria...
“[In the W Series] we’ve really put a big spotlight on the female talent that’s out there right now, and I think there’s a few of the competitors who are capable of driving in Formula 1,” said Coulthard.
“Now the question is, is being capable enough, or are you looking for a Lewis [Hamilton], a Max [Verstappen], a Charles [Leclerc]? You’re looking for the female equivalent of them, because unless you’re as good as a Lewis, a Max, a Charles etc. you’re not going to beat them.”
The 2015 British Grand Prix currently stands as the last time a woman participated in an F1 race weekend, when Susie Wolff drove in Free Practice 1 at Silverstone for Williams. And Coulthard believes that the cream of the female racing crop will naturally earn a chance to follow in Wolff’s tracks and drive in Formula 1 if they can pass muster in the junior categories.
“I personally, with W Series, want to bring more women into motorsport. My sister raced, she was very good but didn’t get the support because my family were supporting me and I regret that, so I want to be part of this to help support female talent and bring more women into motorsport. If they’re good enough, they’ll go to Formula1. If they’re merely good – and good is [still] good! – then they’ll be in touring cars, sportscars and many other championships.”
Jamie Chadwick, who raced against current McLaren star Lando Norris in the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship, was crowned the W Series’s inaugural champion earlier this month, notching up two wins and three additional podiums en route to the title. And with the 21-year-old having been signed up earlier in the year to the Williams Racing Driver Academy, could she be the woman to write the next chapter in the history of female participation in Formula 1?
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