Sebastian Vettel slams F1 chief for 'stereotypical' comments on female drivers

Stefano Domenicali and Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel has criticised Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali for claiming it is “very unlikely” a woman will be on the grid within five years.

Speaking in the run-up to the Belgian GP, Domenicali said only a meteorite hitting earth would lead to a female F1 driver any time soon.

“Realistically speaking, unless there is something like a meteorite, I don’t see a girl coming into F1 in the next five years,” he said. “That is very unlikely.”

Domenicali did temper these comments with the assertion that it was “crucial to give the maximum possibility for women to come to F1 – we are totally dedicated to that”.

Aston Martin driver Vettel, who is retiring from F1 at the end of the season, called Domenicali’s comments “a very unlucky choice of words”.

“I don’t see a reason why we can’t have a woman on the grid,” he told BBC Sport.

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali

“It’s statements like that which I guess women or girls are probably confronted with when they are growing up and sharing their dreams, sitting at breakfast saying I want to become a racing driver.

“And the father might just have read exactly statements like that and say: ‘You do like other things, why not focus on other things?’ Maybe they do focus on other things and drop racing or the idea.

“It is important we don’t say these things because there are sparks everywhere.

“I encourage every girl to speak up and prove Stefano in this regard wrong, and all these people wrong who say certain things can’t be done by you because you are a girl or woman.

“This type of stereotypical thinking is slowly disappearing but has to disappear completely.”

F1 star Sebastian Vettel

The W Series, the all-female single-seater racing championship which aims to eliminate the financial barriers preventing women from competing in motorsport, appeared to reference Domenicali’s comments on Twitter.

Accompanying a GIF of a meteorite hitting earth was the caption: “W Series enters the chat #RethinkRacing”.

Domenicali did mention the W Series in his comments, claiming F1 was “very happy with the collaboration with Formula W.”

“But we believe that to be able to give the chance to girls to be at the same level of competition with the guys, they need to be at the same age when they start to fight on the track at the level of Formula 3 and Formula 2,” he continued.

“We are working on that to see what we can do to improve the system. And you will see soon some action.

“We want to build up the right parameters with the right approach for them to start racing against the guys, at the right age, with the right car.”

Only two women have started on the F1 grid – Maria Terese de Filippies in the 1950s, and Lella Lombardi in the 1970s.

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