I wish her luck, and hope not only that she’s given a chance, but also that the car won’t be rubbish, looking at Virgin’s record last year (Nil point).
Of course, Maria’s appointment brings back the thorny question of whether a woman can win in Formula One. I remember David Coulthard coming out with some nonsense about women not having the necessary mental toughness. To that, I’d say: try going through two days of labour then immediately starting to look after a baby, matey.
I’m wondering about weight versus strength. In theory, a woman would have a serious weight advantage in a sport where every ounce counts. On the other hand, the drivers all work out like mad and built up Kryten-style necks to withstand the G-forces in the car. If they didn’t need those extra pounds of muscle, surely they would go for a body shape more like a marathon runner? Or would they all be jockey-height?
If you need muscles, a woman would be at a serious disadvantage.
One lady who has proved it’s possible is Danica Patrick. She’s tiny, with a normal neck, but she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race (an open wheel series similar to F1) in Indy Japan in 2008. She came third in the iconic Indianapolis 500 in 2009 and won pole position for the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona this year.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching her battle to second place at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix in 2007. She’s not scared of overtaking, and frequently finishes in the top 10.
After the announcement of the return of F1 to the USA this year, Bernie Ecclestone told ESPN Sport "To have someone like Danica Patrick in F1 would be a perfect advert” (Always thinking money is Bernie).
So go Maria!
Three of my woman driver heroines (there are many more):
Shirley Muldowney, drag racer – won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977, 1980 and 1982, becoming the first person to win three Top Fuel titles. She has won has won a total of 18 NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) national events.
Pat Moss-Carlsson, rally driver - scored three outright wins and seven podium finishes in international rallies. European Ladies' Rally Champion five times (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964–65)
Michele Mouton, rally driver - missed winning the 1982 World Rally Championship by a couple of points. In 1985, won the terrifying Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in 1985, setting a record time in the progress. In 1986, she moved to Peugeot and won the German Rally Championship.