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Ecclestone stirs controversy with latest women in F1 comments

Bernie Ecclestone says women would not be taken seriously racing in F1, adding they would not be physically strong enough to compete.
Bernie Ecclestone has stirred controversy by declaring women would not be 'taken seriously' if they competed in Formula 1.

Speaking in an interview with Sir Martin Sorrell at an Advertising Week Europe conference, the F1 supremo touched on a number of topics and made a range of bold statements, including his view that immigrants have 'not made a contribution to the UK' and suggesting that divisive Russian president Vladimir Putin should run Europe.

The 85 year-old has long held the view that women would struggle to make an impression in F1 – saying in 2015 that they should be given their own championship instead -, with his latest comments stating that he doesn't think they would be physically strong enough to handle an F1 car.

However, he went on to say that he believed women will hold more executive positions in F1, such as that of Claire Williams, deputy team principal of Williams, and Monisha Kaltenborn, team principal of Sauber.

Though Giovanni Amati attempted to qualify for an F1 race in 1992, it has been 40 years since a woman – Lella Lombardi – has started in F1. She is also the only female driver to score in F1.

The most recent female representative in F1 was Susie Wolff, who completed a handful of FP1 outings and test sessions for Williams before retiring last season, and has since gone on to found a Women in Motorsport initiative in an effort to help support and fund rising talent.

Ecclestone's words have elicited a strong reaction on Twitter, with IndyCar driver Pippa Mann pointing out that women have enjoyed success in series' with arguably harder cars to handle.

Other notable female racers completing in motorsport include Beitske Visser in the Formula V8 3.5 Championship, Danica Patrick in NASCAR, IndyCar podium winner and Formula E racer Simona de Silvestro and Tatiana Calderon racing in GP3 this year.

by Ollie Barstow

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April 20, 2016 10:05 AM

I think it's more that the ladies don't have the opportunity to start early and also the fact that it's not something women generally strive to do as kids growing up. You can find women competing successfully in drag racing and the top fuel and funny cars are pulling something like 4+ g's on launch. And there are quite a few women that are successful there. But as to open wheel cars, not so much. And don't even think of calling Danica a successful driver in NASCAR, as she wouldn't even have a ride if she wasn't a woman and easy on the eyes and is a sponsor magnet.

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