It has been over 45 years since F1 last saw a female driver race in a grand prix with Italy’s Lella Lombardi.

Lombardi remains the only female driver to have scored in the entire history of the F1 championship, picking up half a point in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

Along with fellow Italian Maria Teresa de Filippis, she remains one of two drivers to have ever qualified for an F1 grand prix. 

Even though attitudes and beliefs continue to change for the better, a female F1 driver still seems to be a very distant possibility even in 2022. 

While F1 isn’t necessarily the end goal for Jessica Hawkins, the 27-year-old is making her mark on motorsport as her success, combined with her development driver role with the Aston Martin F1 team, inspires the new generation of female racers.

In an exclusive interview with, Hawkins is hoping her recent upward trajectory shows young women that there is a place for them in motorsport.

“If I can be of any help to young women that feel like motorsport is a male-dominated sport, which it is still viewed as, if it helps them get into motorsport then it’s really nice to have been a part of that and show that females are welcome within motorsport and they do have a role here,” Hawkins told

Hawkins became the first female to win a touring car race in the United Kingdom as she beat an all-male field at Oulton Park in the final TCR race of the weekend. 

She withstood late pressure from Max Hart in the closing laps to take her first victory in the championship, beating him by just three-tenths at the chequered flag.

Even though Hawkins has touring car experience having raced in BTCC a handful of times in the past, she was surprised to be competitive immediately.

“I was really, really pleased,” Hawkins said. “I thought it was going to be a bit longer before we’d be fighting for wins, just because of it being front-wheel drive. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything front-wheel-drive. So, very pleased to be fighting for wins so early on in the championship.”

Hawkins has spent the last couple of years mainly racing in W Series - an all-female single-seater championship. 

Even though in TCR the opposition was entirely male, Hawkins insisted that winning against only male drivers didn’t give her any extra satisfaction.

“I just see everyone as equal,” she explained. “Don’t get me wrong it was nice to walk away with being the first female to win a touring car race in the UK, that was lovely but it wouldn’t have made a difference if I was racing all women or all men. It felt good either way. 

“It’s a different type of racing [TCR compared to single-seaters] and I don’t see it any different racing all women or all men. I think I am treated the same, as well.”

A step closer to a female F1 driver?

A female F1 driver still seems to be a distant possibility with Susie Wolff - now the owner of the Venturi Formula E team - the last woman to participate in an F1 grand prix weekend at the 2015 British Grand Prix for Williams.

Alice Powell, Tatiana Calderon and Carmen Jorda have raced in F1’s junior categories in the past decade, all with varying degrees of success.

Calderon was part of Sauber’s academy with a handful of F1 test outings before switching to IndyCar while Powell currently competes in W Series.

With no female driver in either F2 or F3, F1 is unlikely to happen any time soon.

However, Hawkins remains confident we will see female drivers in F1’s feeder categories.

“F2 and F3, it’s in the very near future,” Hawkins said. “It’s very rare that you go [from] one year of F3, to one year of F2, to Formula 1. It normally takes a couple of years, only the extreme, in some cases drivers win it in their first year. 

“I think in F3, there could potentially be relatively very soon. F2, maybe a couple of years longer and then it’s just a waiting game for Formula 1 I guess. I do think we are going to see a female within Formula 1 in the next five or 10 years. We will see, I guess.”

Hawkins is one of two female drivers to have F1 roles with two-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick part of Williams’ F1 development programme. 

Chadwick has dominated both W Series campaigns but will remain in the championship for a third season, leading to widespread criticism that despite her success, it hasn’t led to progression into F3 or F2.

Hawkins was quick to defend Chadwick’s decision to remain, explaining that promotion up the motorsport ladder isn’t a guarantee regardless of whether you’re male or female.

“To be honest, she is doing what she thinks is best for her career and who are we to judge? If that’s what she thinks is best for her career and why would she not return? I am sure she’s looking to progress and I am sure it wasn’t her first choice, and I think she will openly say she was trying to progress but unfortunately, it didn’t come together,” she said.

“These things happen, it’s not just Jamie Chadwick that it’s happened to, it happens to many other racing drivers. Things don’t come off. I’ve wanted to progress so many times in my career and I haven’t been able to because of the budget. So why would she not return to W Series? It’s been an amazing championship, she gets great press off of it so why would she not?”

Confident for W Series

W Series’ new season kicks off this weekend at the all-new Miami Circuit which will play host to the inaugural F1 grand prix.

Alongside Hawkins’ impressive TCR debut, she showed impressive pace throughout W Series testing, running consistently in the top five of the timesheets. 

Hawkins credited a “new approach” for her upturn in performance as she looks to finish on the W Series podium for the first time this year.

“I feel fresh,” she said. “I’ve come up with a new approach. It’s no secret that last year didn’t go anywhere near as I hoped but as I said, I’ve come up with a new approach. I come with a confidence on the back of a win in TCR. 

“Obviously, they’re nothing like each other, they’re worlds apart but what I can take from it is confidence moving into Miami.”

A big part of Hawkins’ confidence and newfound belief is linked to her involvement with Aston Martin, having joined the team in May 2021.

Hawkins is the team’s development driver with growing responsibility, driving the 2022 F1 car in the simulator last week with light discussions about potentially driving an older car at some point.

She admitted that the support she has received from Aston Martin has been crucial, particularly from four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.

Hawkins recalled her first-ever experience from the Italian Grand Prix last year, where Vettel took time out of his busy schedule to show her the iconic banking at Monza.

“We were on a track walk and I haven’t been to Monza before and I guess they take it for granted that they’ve been to all these circuits so many times and perhaps something they didn’t realise young and upcoming drivers haven’t been there before,” she explained. 

“We were on the track walk and someone pointed out ‘oh that’s the banking, over there’ and I was like ‘Oh, wicked, that’s amazing!’ and he turned around and was like ‘what you’ve never seen it before?’. I was like ‘I’ve never been here!’ and he was like ‘You’ve never been here?’. I was like ‘No! I haven’t’ and he was like ‘after the track walk I will take you to go see the banking’. 

“After the track walk, he took me to go and see the banking. He took time out of his busy schedule to show me the banking. He doesn’t need to do that but I believe that I am part of his team and if I am part of his team, he sees that he is helping me. That was a really lovely thing for him to do out of his busy schedule on a Formula 1 weekend.”

Hawkins’ improvement over the last year clearly shows that F1 teams supporting female drivers is integral to their development. 

The Headley-born racer is remaining coy on her future plans but continuing to ‘knock down doors’ as she continues to represent females in a male-dominated environment. 

“I make so many plans and I’ve made so many plans throughout my career and I’ve never been able to stick to them because different opportunities come in weird and wonderful ways,” she concluded.

“I’ve gone on paths I thought I would never go down and whilst they might not have seen as the best thing to do at the time, they’ve always turned out to be amazing in one way or another. I am going to keep working hard, keep trying, keep knocking down doors and hopefully good things will come.”