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Motorsport Misogyny – It’s Time For Change

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Amrit grew up in a family who were avid Formula One supporters, meaning that she was exposed to the sport from a young age, and now is somewhat knowledgeable on the sport, even co-hosting a F1 podcast, called Girls in Pole Position. However, despite this, she still faces some backlash from fanbases, which are not as diverse and accepting of all people as you would expect. Despite some advancements, the motorsport community still has a long way to go…

Despite this, myself, along with many other female F1 fans, are consistently labelled for only being interested in the sport due to the ‘hot’ drivers. Especially since the creation of hit Netflix series ‘Drive To Survive’ led to more and more people becoming invested in the sport, it seems that fans from before this seem slightly protective over the sport, and are reluctant to let new fans, especially female ones, in.

Even Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has exhibited underlying misogyny, recently stating that “F1 is bringing in a young generation. It’s bringing in a lot of young girls because of all these great-looking young drivers”. According to him, and many others, it seems as if it is unheard of that women can appreciate motorsports simply for the gripping racing and engineering in itself. With Horner being such a high-profile figure, it is extremely harmful for him to add to this narrative.

If such stereotypes are being perpetuated by those at the top, how is change meant to happen?

There’s no doubt that advancements such as the invention of W Series racing and the inclusion of more females in the Junior Driver Academies has led to more visibility and acceptance of female drivers, and hopefully of female fans. Female commentators and presenters such as Rosanna Tennant, Rachel Brookes and Natalie Pinkman have also led to greater representation of women in the pitlane and commentary boxes.

But there is a long way to go. The male dominated nature of all motorsports both driver and engineering-wise, but specifically Formula One which gets the most media attention, arguably perpetuates a stereotype that it is a sport for men. And a simple search of ‘F1 girls’ on twitter led me to easily find a tweet saying, ‘Do all these young Fan girls of Formula 1 & Lando Norris even watch the sport?’.

It deeply frustrates me that this narrative and way of thinking is still so common. Quite frankly, the way that I see female fans being treated makes me sometimes question my dedication to the sport. Anyone should feel welcome in a sporting community, and I hope that, especially from a sport which I love, more changes are made sooner rather than later.

I am currently a third year English and History student at the University of Nottingham. I am the Head of Reviews for Impact Magazine as well as the Live Editor for The Mic. In my spare time, I also chat about Formula One on a podcast for URN! My Twitter is @_amritvirdi and my Instagrams are @thevinylwriter and @amritvirdi._ - I also share my published works on these accounts.
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