Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

F1's got talent? // The middle of the pack is where it's at

Published by Mr. C

Ever since Stirling Moss opened his wizened old jaw and spouted forth his archaic belief that the competitive strain of F1 racing was beyond the aptitude of women, motorsport has seemingly been embroiled in a sprawling debate on the topic.

There have been a lot of bad and a lot of good things said and written in response, but one common strand that regularly surfaces is that F1 should welcome female drivers with open arms, but only once they have proven themselves to be "talented enough". No-one ever states exactly what constitutes enough talent, or how anyone is supposed to aim for such a boundless benchmark, nor in fact how anyone is supposed to know when they have achieved said status. I guess we'll implicitly "know it when we see it".

The young and the hopeless

The primary flaw in such an argument of course is there have already been an awful lot of dreadful drivers in Formula 1's illustrious history.

From Luca Badoer, who managed to qualify a Ferrari in last place (twice), to Yuji Ide, whose abilities were so lacking the FIA had to intervene and revoke his Super Licence, there is in fact an almost endless list of hopeless drivers associated with F1. For a sport that claims to be the pinnacle of motor racing, it very often falls short in the talent department. It likely hasn't escaped your notice that the majority of the sport's rejects happen to be male.

That is to say, the absolute worst Formula 1 drivers in the world, are all men.

Now, personally I do like a peddler of average talent, largely because they often provide considerably more entertainment over a relentless killing machine in the mould of a Schumacher or a Vettel. Additionally, they often provide the most interesting discussion points, making this aloof sport feel a lot more human and accessible.

There is though, no earthly reason for a woman to have to prove their worth in this basket case of a racing series, until men are held to those same standards. Until a lady comes along and makes a bigger hash of things than the veritable Taki Inoue, there is zero argument against their hiring.

Paid my dues

You could throw a rock at the lower end of a pitlane today and hit a driver not "talented enough" to be there on merit. There are drivers funded by their daddy, their tailor and, of all things, their own government. Let us not forget too, the drivers higher up the field who wouldn't be in the position they find themselves if F1 was purely a talent contest.

If watching the 2012 Olympic Games last summer taught me anything about sport, it's that inspiration and confidence are of equal importance as skills and support. Just take a look at the disproportionate number of Finnish GP winners compared to the country's population and distinct lack of a home Grand Prix for evidence of what a bit of success can do to the mindset of future generations.

The argument that states "only talented women should be allowed in F1" conveniently creates circumstance in which women are never afforded the inspiration nor confidence to start racing in the first place.