Formula 1 still suffering from a lack of diversity

It is fair to say that awareness of diversity and inclusivity issues in sport has significantly ramped up since the turn of the century.

While many sports have made great strides in this regard, there are a handful that are yet to show they are serious about making changes.

Motorsports undoubtedly fall into this category, with most top-level racing series around the world predominantly featuring male drivers.

According to recent research by Betway, the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) has led the way in offering opportunities to female racers.

Beate Noades, Ellen Lohr and Rahel Frey are amongst the women who have made their mark in the DTM, paving the way for other females to follow in their footsteps.

However, Formula 1 remains a largely male-dominated series, apart from a few noteworthy examples in off-track positions.

Ruth Buscombe, Monisha Kaltenborn and Claire Williams are amongst the women who have secured high-ranking F1 jobs, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

Giovanna Amati was the last female participant in a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1992, perfectly highlighting the gender imbalance in the series.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has increasingly been an advocate for more diversity in F1, although he has generally focused on race rather than gender.

He did support the launch of the W Series, which is designed to provide women racers with the opportunity to compete at a high level.

Hamilton’s comments smacked of box ticking, with many other experts on the issue questioning the creation of a competition solely aimed at women.

Rally legend Michele Mouton was particularly critical in a 2019 interview, telling MotorSport Magazine that the W Series was counter-productive to the progression of female racers.

“Anyone who wants to succeed needs to show they are the best – not just the best female,” she said.

“If they want to get to the top, at some point they are going to have to fight with men, so why segregate?

Mouton’s comments hold far more resonance than Hamilton’s given her experience of competing against men in the World Rally Championship.

She finished second behind Walter Rohrl in the 1982 title race, helping Audi win their first manufacturers' championship that season.

Mouton subsequently became the first female driver to in a major rallying series by clinching the German Rally Championship four years later.

She was appointed as the first president of the FIA's Women & Motor Sport Commission in 2010 and is now the driving force behind the ‘FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars’ launched last year.

The scheme has already produced results, with teenager Maya Weug becoming the first female to join the Ferrari team.

It is hoped that more women racers will follow suit over the next few years, although there is still a long way to go before motorsports can truly claim to be diverse and inclusive.

Formula 1 unquestionably needs to do more in this respect, with very few of its leading personalities seemingly willing to speak out about the lack of women in the series.

Male chauvinism still appears to be rampant in F1 circles and it is clearly not a good look given how other sports have progressed in recent years.