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A decade of Women in Motorsport

Looking back on the 2010-2019 decade: ten years of women in motorsport.



After a couple of "stagnant" decades for women in motor racing, the last 10 years saw the situation slightly improving, with the trend picking up the pace in the last two years.

Testament of the importance of an inspiring figure at the top of the industry, the second decade of the 2000s likely started to reap the rewards from the previous rise of Danica Patrick to the highest levels of the motorsport scene.


With the same goal, Susie Wolff completed a testing program with Williams Formula One team, breaking a 22 years hiatus for women at the pinnacle of the sport.

Among the many achievements and groundbreaking successes, we would like to remember Maria De Villota, who lost her life pursuing her dream.


As 2019 saw female racers making headlines like never before, we hope that the rise of the latest wave of talents will finally break the glass ceiling and deliver the next inspiring champions, thus fuelling the ambitions of the next generations.


Here are some of the defining moments of the past decade.

Allemann-Gachnang-Frey, Le Mans 2010 - Ph: Luca Tremolada

2010

Matech Competition lines up a full-female team for the 2010 Le Mans 24 hours: Cyndie Allemann, Natacha Gachnang and Rahel Frey qualify 7th in the GT1 class, but their race is stopped early by an engine issue.


Simona De Silvestro is the "Rookie of the Year" at the Indianapolis 500. She is the third woman to receive the award, after Danica Patrick and Lyn St. James. A record-breaking 4 women can be found on the starting grid.


2011

Not just in the driver's seat: Sarah Fisher becomes the first woman team owner in IndyCar, while Leena Gade is the first female race engineer to win at Le Mans. The following year, she will be nominated FIA WEC "Man of the Year".



Danica Patrick - Ph: Indycar

2012

Danica Patrick, arguably the most famous female racing driver of the 2000s, switches full time to NASCAR, after 7 seasons in IndyCar. She will be the first woman to win pole position at the Daytona 500 the following year.


Keiko Ihara is the first Asian woman to take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours. After a full FIA WEC season competing for Gulf Racing in the LMP2 class, the Japanese will retire in the opening laps of the 24H classic.


Alice Powell is the first woman to score points in the F1 supporting championship GP3 Series, as she finishes 8th in the Monza sprint race.


Alice Powell, Monza 2012 - Ph: Daniel Kalisz/LAT/GP3 Series Media

2013

Unfortunately, it has also been a decade marked by tragedy: on 11th October, Maria De Villota dies as a consequence of the severe head injuries she sustained in a testing crash in Duxford, UK, while testing a Marussia F1 car in July 2012.


Maria De Villota - Ph: Amber Lounge

2014

Susie Wolff is the first woman in 22 years to enter a Formula 1 official free practice session as the Scottish lady drives the Williams during the Friday FP1 at Silverstone and Hockenheim. She will also contest the first practice session at Barcelona and Silverstone in 2015.

The last woman to have entered a F1 race remains Lella Lombardi (1976).


Simona De Silvestro is signed as affiliated driver to Sauber F1 Team: the Swiss drives a 2012-spec car in Fiorano with the goal of securing a 2015 race seat. However, the team drops De Silvestro at the end of the season, citing financial troubles.


Italian Michela Cerruti wins the second AutoGP race of the Imola round, becoming the first woman to claim an open-wheel victory in more than 5 years.


Susie Wolff, Silverstone 2014 - Ph: Jake Archibald, CC

2015

Jamie Chadwick is the first woman and youngest driver ever to win a title in the British GT Championship.


2016

Christina Nielsen wins the IMSA championship title in the GT-D class. She becomes the first woman to win a major full-season professional sports car championship in North America.

She will claim a second back-to-back title in 2017.


With the 9th place at the Long Beach ePrix, Simona De Silvestro is the first woman to score points in a Formula E race. She will again finish 9th at the Berlin ePrix in the same season.



Simona De Silvestro, Andretti Autosport - Ph: Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E

2017

Former GP3 racer and Lotus F1 Team development driver Carmen Jordá is appointed to the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, led by former WRC star Michelle Mouton.

Jordá controversially made headlines when, in April 2015, she spoke in favour of a separate F1 championship for women.


2018

Danica Patrick retires from competitions, after 14 years under the spotlight. With 7 podiums and 1 victory (Motegi 2008), she remains one of the most successful and influencial female IndyCar driver to date. She enters for one final time the two biggest races in American motorsport, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.


For a legend retiring, more upcoming talents make their way up the ranks with prestigious victories: Fabienne Wohlwend wins the Ferrari Challenge World Finals in Monza, while British Jamie Chadwick is the first woman to win a British F3 race at Brands Hatch.


Sophia Floersch (17 years old at the time) survives a 276km/h terrifying crash during the main event of the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix. She sustains spinal fractures but makes her racing return four months later. She will be back in the streets of Macau for the 2019 edition.


Sophia Floersch, 2018 FIA F3 - Ph: RacersBehindTheHelmet.com

2019

Tatiana Calderon is the first ever woman to compete in FIA Formula 2, F1 closest feeder series. The Colombian is also appointed Development Driver at Alfa Romeo F1 Team and becomes the first Latin-American woman to drive a F1 car.


Reema Juffali is the first Saudi woman to compete internationally, months after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has lifted its ban on street driving for women.


The first all-female championship is announced: the F3-based W-Series is launched at Hockenheim, Germany. Featuring a 6-races calendar supporting the DTM, the championship attracts huge media attention, as well as critics from high-profile female racers.


W-Series kicks off at Hockenheim 2019 - Ph: W-Series Media

Nine years from the last attempt, an all-female crew enters the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans: Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Manuela Gostner drive the Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 to 9th in class.


Belen Garcia is the first woman to win a Formula 4 race (Spanish F4, Navarra) and Amna Al Qubaisi is the first woman to win a FIA F1 support event (F4 UAE, Abu Dhabi).


Jamie Chadwick is crowned first W-Series champion and signed as Williams F1 Development Driver. She is the only junior driver of the year to win two titles (W-Series and MRF Challenge).


Frey-Gatting-Gostner cross the finish line of the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans - Ph: Iron Dames


Cover Ph credits: RacersBehindTheHelmet.com

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