Eddie Jordan believes Sophie Kumpen, mother of Max Verstappen, is the only female driver he has seen in his career who would have succeeded in Formula 1 on equal terms without previous training.
Kumpen was a prolific kart racer in her own right in her youth, competing alongside many drivers which would end up becoming Formula 1 drivers further down the line, and along with Max’s father Jos provided mentorship for the Red Bull driver in his junior career as he moved his way up the motorsport ladder.
When discussing the premature ending of the all-female W Series season last year, with the series unlikely to get back up and running again this time around, the topic of bringing a female driver through to Formula 1 was brought to the former eponymous team principal’s attention.
He expressed his disappointment that the W Series appears to have ended, while stating that Kumpen would have been capable of competing in Formula 1 in her own right – though a “mechanism” was unavailable to her to get involved.
“I think it’s wrong to try and push girls into a Formula 1 scenario without having previous training,” Jordan explained alongside David Coulthard on their Formula For Success podcast.
“The only person I think that could have done that in my time is Max’s mum, because I think Max Verstappen’s mother was a serious, absolutely wonderfully quick girl and she could, without any question, have made it in my opinion in Formula 1.
“But you know, there wasn’t a mechanism there to help her and I’m not sure many of the teams would have gone to support it or whatever it was, which is wrong. And I think that has to change.
“And it’s so sad to see the passing of the W Series because I think technically it had everything going for it. I wish them every success because there is a need for a championship like this, I thought the W Series would kick on and I’m hugely disappointed and saddened that it hasn’t.”
Formula 1 has launched the all-female F1 Academy for this year, with a grid of female drivers taking to several different circuits around the world and building up experience in a junior category as they look to forge a path in motorsport.
There has been criticism over the lack of TV coverage of the series so far, though a docuseries is set to be produced about it to raise awareness of its profile and it will join the Formula 1 support calendar at select races from the 2024 season.