Vitantonio Liuzzi has waded into the debate about whether or not a female driver could ultimately succeed in F1, by contending that in his opinion, the pinnacle of international motorsport is 'physically and psychologically' too 'tough' for girls – but then at least he avoided Jenson Button's error of bringing boobs into the argument.
Last week, the sport's influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone re-iterated his long-held belief that to have someone like IndyCar Series pin-up Danica Patrick in F1 'would be a perfect advert' [see separate story – click here
] – but Force India ace Liuzzi is not so sure any of the present crop could adequately handle the pressure and expectations.
“I think it would be quite tough for the girls,” the Italian told ESPNF1
. “I think Danica could be big for publicity like she is in America, but F1 has a different objective and is a tougher challenge both physically and psychologically.
“To be at the top in F1 is not as easy as people expect. I doubt it would work, but Bernie has all these great ideas to showcase the business and he is the boss, so you never know!”
Five years ago, now reigning F1 World Champion Jenson Button generated a great deal of controversy with some casual, off-the-cuff remarks in an interview with men's lifestyle magazine FHM
, as he claimed certain factors meant women were unlikely ever to make the grade at the highest level.
“Danica is very quick,” the British star had acknowledged, “but in F1 cars I can't see it happening due to the G-forces in fast corners – and one week of the month you wouldn't want to be on the circuit with them, would you? A girl with big boobs would never be comfortable in the car, and the mechanics wouldn't concentrate. Can you imagine strapping her in..?”
Over the 60 years that the world championship has been in official existence, only five female drivers have ever attempted to start a grand prix, and three of them – Divina Galica, Desiré Wilson and Giovanna Amati most recently in 1992 – failed to get beyond the qualifying stage. The late Lella Lombardi is the only woman to have ever troubled the scorers, tallying half a point for sixth place in the tragically shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuïc Park in Barcelona.