Max Verstappen says it is harder for a woman to make it to Formula 1 due to lower participation numbers, but believes the skills to succeed are “all trainable”.
As Formula 1 continues to enjoy a popularity boom beyond anything the series has seen before, a key goal has been set to find the next female driver, with a woman having not started a grand prix since Lella Lombardi who made her last appearance in 1976.
The establishment of the all-female F1 Academy series, which for 2024 will feature all 10 F1 teams fielding a driver using their livery, marked a clear commitment to bringing a female driver into F1 once more.
Max Verstappen says ‘of course’ female F1 driver possible
Verstappen very much comes from a racing family, as not only did his father Jos previously compete in F1, his mother Sophie Kumpen also became a respected name on the karting scene.
The fact that more men get involved with racing than women at this point, Verstappen says naturally that puts the odds against a female driver in F1, but with such pathways being created to teach the skills, he sees no reason why a female would not be able to join the F1 grid if they demonstrated the ability.
Asked by media what F1 needs to do to get a female driver on the grid, Verstappen replied: “I think if you look at the percentage of men and women in racing, I think already for men, the percentage is of course very low to get into Formula 1, so naturally, of course, for women, it’s even harder because there are less women.
“I do think, you know, physically driving F1 in some places is quite tough, but I do think that it’s all trainable if you work hard for it. It is of course, naturally a little bit harder for a woman, but if you have enough talent, then of course it is possible.
“Because I don’t think team bosses or people who make decisions to choose their drivers look at it like, ‘Oh, no, we only go for men’.
“If there’s a woman who is beating everyone else, then naturally they will have the opportunity to get to Formula 1, but it’s just that there are less women in the sport, then naturally of course the percentage to make it to the top is lower.”
Verstappen has established himself as the dominant F1 force, winning his third World Championship in F1 2023 with a record-breaking 19 wins claimed out of 22 grands prix.