Guenther Steiner highlights mammoth task F1 faces in adding female driver to grid

Jamie Woodhouse
Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner walks through the F1 paddock in Bahrain.

Guenther Steiner walks through the paddock.

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner paints a bleak picture for the prospects of a female driver joining the Formula 1 grid anytime soon.

Formula 1 has not seen a female driver since Italian racer Giovanna Amati last appeared for Brabham back in 1992, but it is a topic which is now very much on the agenda for the series.

Arguably more eyes are now on Formula 1 than ever before, a popularity boom largely triggered by the success of Netflix’s hit docuseries Drive to Survive, a show which has also helped Steiner to become something of a celebrity figure.

So, as Formula 1 continues to tap into this younger and more widespread audience, and with seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton working hard to make Formula 1 a more diverse landscape, a female F1 driver is seen as an ideal next step.

However, while Formula 1 has already been waiting over 30 years for another female star, Steiner is of the belief that this wait will go on for a lot longer yet, saying that rather than talking about a matter of years, Formula 1 is “five to six generations behind” in this quest.

“Marketing-wise, it would be magic,” said Steiner when put to him by The Times that Haas surely had considered bringing in a female driver. “But at the moment they are simply not out there.

“You’ve got thousands of male children who go go-karting and only 20 make it to the top. We need to create a big field of grassroots for females. We cannot have delusions that it will happen in two to three years. We are five or six generations behind now.”

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While it does not seem like a female driver is on the cusp of a Formula 1 breakthrough right now, to believe that point is up to six generations behind seems a little extreme.

Perhaps the driver that is closest to ending this streak is Williams development driver Jamie Chadwick, a two-time W Series champ who is now looking to prove herself further in the Indy NXT category with Andretti Autosport.

The all-female W Series really laid the foundations for this push to make the Formula 1 dream accessible to female racers, and now F1 has picked the ball up and run with it through the formation of F1 Academy, an all-female junior category looking to put this pathway in place.

The first grid for 2023 already boasts some very strong candidates, including the likes of Sauber junior Lena Buhler and the Alpine Academy’s Abbi Pulling. MP Motorsport’s Hamda Al Qubaisi meanwhile became the first female racer in history to score an Italian F4 podium back in 2021, while she is also a multi-time race winner in UAE F4.

So, while it is true that Formula 1 is currently at the stage of laying firm foundations, it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that these efforts pay off and produce the next female F1 driver in only a matter of years.