Is Formula One finally moving closer to having a female star? British James Bond stunt driver Jessica Hawkins, 28, becomes the first woman to test an F1 car in five years… but getting a racer on the grid is still ‘a decade away’
- Hawkins completed 26 laps in the Aston Martin team’s 2021 car in Budapest
- Tatiana Calderon was the last female driver to test an F1 car back in 2018
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Britain’s Jessica Hawkins became the first female in almost five years to drive a modern Formula One car during a recent test in Budapest.
The Aston Martin ambassador completed 26 laps in the Silverstone team’s 2021 machinery at the Hungaroring last Thursday.
Hawkins, who recorded a best finish of second in 19 appearances in the W Series – the now-defunct all-female category – said: ‘I want to say a big thank you to everyone at AMF1 Team for having the trust in me, believing in me, and for giving me this opportunity.
‘It’s taken me every bit of blood, sweat and tears to get here. When I first heard it might be a possibility, I could hardly believe it.
‘I’ve had to keep it secret for months now – which was pretty hard. It’s been absolutely worth it and it’s given me really valuable insight.’
Britain’s Jessica Hawkins became the first female in almost five years to drive a modern F1 car
The 28-year-old made her debut test appearance at the Hungaroring last Thursday
The Aston Martin ambassador completed 26 laps in the Silverstone team’s 2021 machinery
The British racing driver enjoys some downtime in a lagoon during a trip away to Iceland
Hawkins’ F1 appearance is the first meaningful one by a female driver since Colombian Tatiana Calderon took part in a number of tests for Alfa Romeo in 2018.
Hawkins, 28, added: ‘Nothing will compare to the acceleration and braking of a Formula One car and, having looked at the data, I’m really proud of my performance.
‘Getting to drive the AMR21 has been a dream come true for me and one I’ve been ready to fulfil for a long time. I’ll keep pushing for more and, in the process, I want to inspire other women and let them know they should follow their dream no matter what it is.’
It has been 47 years since a female – the Italian Lella Lombardi – took part in an F1 race, and eight years since Susie Wolff, who is married to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, competed in a Grand Prix practice session.
Hawkins sits in the Aston Martin cockpit at the Hungaroring before testing the 2021 car
Susie Wolff (right), wife of Mercedes F1 team principal Toto (left) and managing director of all-new female-series, the F1 Academy, claims that getting a female racer on the grid is 10 years away from becoming a reality
Tatiana Hawkins’ F1 appearance is the first meaningful one by a female driver since Colombian Tatiana Calderon (pictured) took part in a number of tests for Alfa Romeo in 2018
Wolff, who became managing director of Formula One’s all-new female-series, the F1 Academy, which was launched by the grid’s bosses this year, claimed that getting a female racer on the grid is around a decade away from becoming a reality.
‘I believe it’s eight to 10 years away from happening,’ Wolff told the Guardian in April.
‘That’s not just because we are lacking the female talent pool and lacking those who progress through the sport but also because of the realisation that getting to F1 is incredibly tough. It’s tough for all of the male drivers.
‘There are only 20 spots on the grid and that’s why it is going to take time. I do believe in eight to 10 years, when we have had a continued growth of the talent pool and more females entering the sport, it will be much more realistic.’
Wolff added: ‘A woman in F1 is not going to happen overnight, I need to manage expectations.
Hawkins (pictured) worked as a stunt driver on James Bond film No Time to Die in 2021
“But I think this foundation and everything we can achieve with the F1 Academy in the medium to long term can be the real driver for change in the sport and that was what compelled me to say: “Count me in.”‘
Wolff has taken charge of the female-only academy, which develops young talent to prepare them for higher levels of competition.
Wolff, a former professional driver who has also held the role of team principal with the Venturi Formula E team, launched the Dare To Be Different action plan – which aimed to inspire females to take up the sport – in 2016.
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