Jessica Hawkins recently became the first woman to drive a Formula 1 car at the Hungaroring in five years – and achieved impressive lap times, as former world champion Nico Rosberg highlighted on the sidelines of the F1 broadcast in Qatar. Rosberg even revealed a “little secret” about the well-kept secret times.
Former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was thrilled. The 38-year-old beamed as he walked alongside Aston Martin test driver Jessica Hawkins on the sidelines of the “Sky Sports” broadcast in the pit lane of the Losail International Circuit, who talked about her first experiences in a Formula 1 car.
In Hungary she completed a total of 26 laps in the Aston Martin AMR21, and her official times were kept completely under wraps afterwards.
Historical Context of women in F1
The legacy of women in F1 has been a mixed one. In the sport’s seven-decade-long history, only a handful of women have had the opportunity to compete. Pioneers like Lella Lombardi, who raced in the mid-1970s, managed to score championship points, but since her time, the presence of women in F1 has been almost non-existent.
For years, the perception that women are less suited for the rigors of Formula 1—from physical stamina to handling the stress and speed—has been a stumbling block, if not an outright deterrent.
However, the modern era is witnessing a seismic shift. Initiatives like the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and the “Girls on Track” program aim to identify, encourage, and mentor young women from karting levels through to the upper echelons of motor racing. The W Series, an all-female championship, was introduced in 2019 to provide women with a platform to showcase their talents. Not only has the series proved to be competitive and compelling to watch, but it also paved the way for its champion, Jamie Chadwick, to secure a developmental role with the Williams Formula 1 team.
Physicality and Skill
The argument that women are physically less capable of handling an F1 car has been largely debunked by science and by the women who have undergone the rigorous training required for the sport. Cardiovascular strength, reaction times, and mental toughness are essential qualities in a race car driver, and they are not determined by gender. Today’s women drivers have demonstrated that they possess the skill, tenacity, and technical understanding to compete at high levels.
Sponsorship and Media Coverage
One of the significant challenges for women in F1 is securing sponsorships, which often comes easier for their male counterparts. While the sport’s commercial aspects are evolving, there is still a gap that needs to be bridged.
Additionally, media coverage for women racers has been limited but is gradually improving. Highlighting the achievements of women drivers through consistent and respectful coverage will go a long way in normalizing their presence in the sport.
Rosberg: “You were super fast”
Nico Rosberg, the former Mercedes driver and F1 world champion, couldn’t contain his excitement as he joined Aston Martin test and aspiring Formula 1 driver Jessica Hawkins for a “Sky Sports” broadcast in the pit lane of the Losail International Circuit. Rosberg gleamed while discussing Hawkins’ recent milestone: she became the first woman to drive a Formula 1 car at the Hungaroring in five years.
Not only did she achieve this feat, but she also clocked impressive lap times, something that Rosberg was eager to highlight. He even shared a “little secret” about the closely-guarded lap times that Hawkins achieved.
Nico Rosberg revealed in Qatar: “What no one knows: I know your lap times from your test drive.”
Then the former F1 star added meaningfully: “I can reveal a little secret that you were quick compared to the official test driver.”
This means that Jessica Hawkins doesn’t have to shy away from comparison with Felipe Drugovich, Formula 2 world champion in 2022.
Rosberg added: “I won’t reveal the exact times, but you were super fast.”
Hawkins: “Very happy with how the test went”
Despite the praise, the 28-year-old didn’t reveal any further details and simply replied modestly: “It went well and I may have surprised myself a bit. I’m very happy with how it went.”
Hawkins also emphasised that she has “absolutely no doubts” that women will soon be involved as regular drivers in Formula 1.
“My next goal is to get back in the car as quickly as possible. I think I’ve done a good job to get myself back into this position. I’ll work hard in the winter to convince sponsors and partners of this that I fulfill mine and they fulfill their dreams.”
Last but not least, she said, she wanted to “inspire” women.
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