Ecclestone Pledges Support to Women in Formula One

Ecclestone Pledges Support to Women in Formula One
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Formula One’s chief Bernie Ecclestone clarified his position on female drivers in Formula One after he received quite a lot of criticism for certain comments he made earlier in the week.

Ecclestone vowed to help in any way he can to get women in Formula One and expressed his support towards Susie Wolff’s ‘Dare to be Different’ movement. At an advertising forum earlier in the week, the 85-year old Ecclestone was quoted to have said that women drivers in Formula One would not “be taken seriously” and that they could succumb to the physical requirements of the sport. This was part of a much bigger interview, but it were these statements which got noticed by the world.

A lot of activists and fans were angered when these statements came out and many took to social media to speak out against Ecclestone. Susie Wolff, who is currently spearheading the efforts to get women in F1 with her movement ‘Dare to be Different’, was also considerably frustrated.

But Wolff has since said that the comments were taken out of context and when the interview is taken as a whole, what Ecclestone said isn’t so bad.

Susie Wolff comments.

Wolff said, “I’m not on the defensive for Bernie here. We agreed on some topics and I can only be completely honest that every step of the way in my quest to make it on to the Formula 1 starting grid he’s been supportive.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say that’s he’s against woman being in Formula 1 and he also did say in the interview that it would be the best thing for F1 on the commercial side to have a successful female driver.”

Bernie Ecclestone comments.

Bernie Ecclestone has since spoken with Autosport and he has clarified his statements. He says that he always has and will be offering complete support to Wolff and help women get into the sport.

Ecclestone said, “”Whatever she (Susie Wolff) wants to do we will try and support it.

“Let me be clear, I would love to see a woman driver in Formula 1. Absolutely. 100 per cent.

“I was asked on stage by (the interviewer) ‘If by chance there was a sponsor out there that wanted to put 100 million into a team, providing it had two women drivers, what would you say to that? I said ‘I’d be very happy and I’d give another 20 million to make it happen’. But people forgot to print these things. Thank God I don’t take a lot of notice.”

Ecclestone said that if any woman had the talent, he would do everything to get her a spot in a team. Although, he did admit that besides talent, financial backing is also a key part of it. He has also pledged his support to Susie Wolff’s ‘Dare to be Different’ initiative.

If a woman driver did get to race, it wouldn’t be the first time. Although Susie Wolff was with the Williams team from 2012 to 2015 as a test driver, taking part in 3 Friday practice sessions as well, she never got to start a race as she didn’t qualify. There hasn’t been a woman on the starting grid since Lella Lombardi did it in the mid 1970s.

Lella Lombardi stands out in the history of female F1 drivers, having started 12 races and finishing once in scoring positions, getting 0.5 points. Before her, Maria Teresa de Filippis started 3 races in the late 1950s. Since Lombardi, there have been a few women who’ve tried, but none of them have qualified for the starting grid.

Susie Wolff says, “I think we are seeing developments, possibly not as much on track as off track but it’s happening organically.

“I would like to think we are much closer to a female F1 driver but I could never give you a timeframe.”


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