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An old sea serpent, the subject of women in F1 and motorsport has regained vigor with the thrust of diversity issues in our societies in recent years, as evidenced by the existence of a commission Women in Motorsport and the program Girls on Track of the Ferrari Academy, which took the form of the recruitment of Maya Weug, entered this year in Italian F4.
A multiple program
Alpine is in turn throwing itself into the fight with a program called Rac(H)er, which, as the pun implies, wants to develop diversity within its own teams, in particular towards women. This program covers all “genres” and “all areas of the business”, from technical functions to racing and competition.
The program includes a motorsport component, and, based on research carried out by the Paris Brain Institute, will aim to combat received ideas on all the alleged pseudo-scientific obstacles (physical condition, mental) to access women driving F1.
Women like Michelle Mouton, Danica Patrick or Jutta Kleinschmidt, among many others, have already proven by their performances the possibility of succeeding in competition (see here and here !), and currently the female drivers of Iron Lynx in GT continue in this way, but F1 still remains this ” glass ceiling “. As Alpine recalls, in 72 years of Formula 1, only six of the 885 drivers were women, and the last to drive in an official F1 session was Giovanna Amati in 1992 in a Brabham. It’s old. The obstacle is also and above all financial, hence the launch of a fund to support female talent in motorsport.
An education and support component, with the participation of Alpine employees in schools, will aim to improve the knowledge and interest of young girls in the racing professions and the automotive industry in general. The program will begin by investing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs that encourage women to take a science and technology path, and ensure that they stay there for the long term. Subsequently, a mentoring program in all departments of the company will help develop female employees in their career aspirations.
30% target for Alpine
While the Alpine staff currently has 12% female staff, the target is increased to 30% women within 5 years. This commitment begins now, with the joint recruitment of trainees and young graduates. The Academy program thus aims to identify, from an early age, female karting drivers who wish to enter Formula 1. This program will follow a comprehensive roadmap aimed at establishing racing, test, physical or mental training to support the progression of these talents. Significant resources will be allocated to the realization of this program to give female pilots the same chances of success as the greatest male champions trained by the Academy and thus going from karting to F4, then from regional championships to F3 and finally from F2 to F1. The W Series experience launched by the FIA has not yet borne fruit.
Laurent Rossi, CEO of Alpine: “Our role as a Formula 1 team and a Renault Group brand is to commit to making our ecosystem more inclusive and to making diversity our strength. We are aware of the need for a profound change in our sport and the industry so that all talents can express themselves in the future. By launching Rac(H)er, a long-term transformation program, we hope to be joined by all players in the field, because it is only by uniting that we can really move forward. This is where our real success will lie. »
Claire Mesnier, Vice President of Human Resources at Alpine: “With Rac(H)er, we want to establish a real meritocracy and not just increase the statistics. We have designed a unique and sustainable program based on the commitment of all Alpine employees. The challenge is to promote reflection within the teams, but also to put in place concrete means to make things happen within the company. We are committed to doing this across all areas of the business and leading by example. Half of Alpine’s board members are now women. Not because it is a quota, but because they are the best in their field of expertise to take on this role and these responsibilities. »
When will we see a female Formula 1 driver again? Beyond the stereotypes to be combated, the problem remains that of detection, channels and financing, when we see how difficult it is now becoming to climb the ladder, whether you are a woman or not.