Carmen Jorda from the Women in Motorsport Commission has come under fire after she told ESPN that a “physical issue” was the barrier preventing women from competing in Formula 1 or Formula 2.
The former F1 development driver’s comments have been derided by people in motorsport, including 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button who said she was “not helping proper female racing drivers”.
Oh Carmen, you’re not helping proper female racing drivers with this comment. Ask @DanicaPatrick about being 💪🏽 enough to drive a race car! She’d kick my butt in the gym & she’s probably as strong as any driver on the F1 Grid right now. Physical barrier is not your issue Carmen https://t.co/hbyMzrCypg
— Jenson Button (@JensonButton) March 6, 2018
The ‘proper female racing drivers’ Button was talking about may have included stockcar racers Pippa Mann and Leilani Muenter, who both thanked him for “standing up for female racers”.
Christina Nielsen, the first woman to win a major full-season sportscar championship in North America, wondered about Jorda’s credentials in Formula 1 and Formula 2 as she didn’t “recall her competing in either classes, which seems relevant to make a judgement”.
And Supercars Australia racer Simona De Silvestro said she “never felt physically disadvantaged” in a Formula 1 car.
I raced @IndyCar @FIAFormulaE @supercars & driven a @F1 car,all were challenging but never felt physically https://t.co/LkTUjNNSOs's frustrating to hear the statement from a woman who has never raced these cars.This is not the way to encourage young girls to follow their dreams
— Simona De Silvestro (@simdesilvestro) March 6, 2018
Some people on social media agreed with Jorda, with one calling for an end to “virtue-signalling” and asking “who can judge the physical barrier better, Carmen Jorda a female driver, or Jenson Button a male driver?”.
While another said he wasn’t “into supporting a process that sets women up for failure in order to cultivate some sort of equality illusion”.
But Susie Wolff, who became the first woman in 22 years to take part in a Formula 1 race weekend in 2014, shared the message that “motorsport doesn’t care about gender”.
As we launch the @fia Women in Motorsport #TheGirlsOnTrack the message has never been clearer – motorsport doesn’t care about gender. Performance counts. The more young girls we get entering the sport, the more will rise to the top. pic.twitter.com/Y5Pb34ydmL
— Susie Wolff (@Susie_Wolff) March 7, 2018
Wolff’s photo in the post show her with Michele Mouton, the president of the Women in Motorsport Commission, and GP3 driver Tatiana Calderon, who was announced as Sauber’s F1 test driver for this season on Tuesday.