Susie Wolff, Williams, Silverstone, 2012

Moss doubts women have “mental aptitude” for F1

F1 Fanatic round-upPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Susie Wolff, Williams, Silverstone, 2012In the round-up: Stirling Moss says women lack the mental capacity to be F1 racers.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Moss says women lack mentality for F1 (BBC)

“I think they have the strength, but I don’t know if they’ve got the mental aptitude to race hard, wheel-to-wheel.”

Can Women Compete in Formula 1? A Science Perspective (Badger GP)

“The world has moved on in its attitudes to women, and people in F1 circles, for example Sir Stirling, have not. I note that Bernie Ecclestone?s comments in the article were less sexist than those he?s made before, but they still leave a lot to be desired in fostering an environment where women are seen as equals.”

Bahrain blasts stoke fears before F1 race (FT, registration required)

A series of explosions in Bahrain has raised security fears ahead of the kingdom?s premier international sporting event, the F1 Grand Prix motor race, scheduled for this weekend.

Bahrain Grand Prix is on, insists Bernie Ecclestone (The Independent)

“What’s happened? They’re demonstrating now? I didn?t know that. There’s nobody demonstrating.”

Perez told to ‘toughen up’ (ESPN)

Martin Whitmarsh: “He’s been very polite so far this year. He needs to toughen up. He’s been generous in allowing people past him. I told him: ‘You have to be out there racing’. That means sometimes you have got to use elbows and you have got to be robust without being dirty.”

Lotus downplays Raikkonen Red Bull talk (Autosport)

Lotus owner Gerard Lopez: “Kimi’s position is going to be based on a bunch of things and not on what Red Bull say – I think they have their hands full right now.”

Tyres need to be tougher, say some team bosses (Reuters)

Martin Whitmarsh: “I would like more durable tyres that we can absolutely attack on flat out.”

Christian Horner: “A quick car abuses the tyres more…” (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“I think we?re seeing that qualifying is paying less of a premium than trying to preserve the tyres. Our car performs very, very well, it?s a quick car, but a quick car abuses the tyre more, and the tyres can?t cope with that.”

Fernando’s masterclass (Sky)

Martin Brundle: “The Red Bull team are reigning triple world champions, they are unsurprisingly a fiercely professional and dedicated bunch, they get sizeable end of season bonuses based on the constructors’ championship position, does anybody really think that Webber’s problems were somehow intentional? Come on.”

Will Bernie buy the Long Beach GP? (MotorSport)

“IndyCar?s agreement with Long Beach expires next year and there are rumors that Bernie Ecclestone, Zak Brown and Long Beach founder Chris Pook are attempting to buy the contract.”


Comment of the day

Great work by @Andae23 on more Chinese Grand Prix stats:

We have had five different winners in the last five races, which is the 55th time this has occurred in history.

More remarkable is that these five drivers (Hamilton, Button, Raikkonen, Vettel and Alonso) are all world champions. This is only the third time this has ever occurred: the other occasions were in 1977 (Jones, Lauda, Andretti, Hunt and Scheckter) and 1985-1986 (Mansell, Rosberg, Piquet, Senna and Prost).

Note that at the time, Scheckter, Andretti, Jones, Mansell and Senna were not world champions, meaning that the 2013 Chinese GP has a first!

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to AndrewTanner, SoLiD, BraddersF1 and RumFRESH!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

These four all share their birthday with Paul di Resta who is 27 today.

Image ?? Williams/LAT

141 comments on “Moss doubts women have “mental aptitude” for F1”

    1. @alonsomclaren – agreed. his comments might not be graceful, but at least they’re also not politically-correct.

      A woman will have a seat in F1 when she’s earned it. Until then, there’s no reason to start advancing otherwise unqualified women towards the F1 grid just because of their sex, at the expense of qualified male talent. The best drivers with the right support should be on the grid!

  1. Christian Horner: “A quick car abuses the tyres more…”

    “I think we’re seeing that qualifying is paying less of a premium than trying to preserve the tyres. Our car performs very, very well, it’s a quick car, but a quick car abuses the tyre more, and the tyres can’t cope with that.”

    Alonso and Kimi might not totally agree with that statement.

    1. I think they might agree though @bullmello, but would add that the last 3 years overall Red Bull had the best car (optimized to make the most of qualifying, then run in clean air at the front and win more often than not), now they seem to be a wrongly optimized package where Ferrari and Lotus have the better car overall. Only means RBR have to change their approach a bit and get back up there, that said, they are still in the lead.
      I mean, most fans get bored of always seeing the fastest car on pole and then in front for the whole race to win it, changing that was exactly what was asked of Pirelli to achieve.

      I think it was remarkable to hear Horner mention his drivers are pushing only 70% while Withmarsh mentions 90% for his drivers. On that note, given that

      “We then said step the pace up. Within three laps he was going two seconds a lap quicker and the tyres actually held in there. Upon reflection…he could have leant on them a lot heavier than his instinct (told him),” said the boss.

      part, I see this not as the teams being carefull because they HAVE to, but being overly carefull.
      We saw with Bahrain 2010 everyone sparing their tyres far too much too, only to find out it was not needed. Maybe this year we also still need to see drivers push their tyres and see what they get out of them, instead of having a team of people watching computer data calculate an optimum lap based on evidently insufficient information.

  2. “What’s happened? They’re demonstrating now? I didn’t know that. There’s nobody demonstrating.”

    Glad to see F1 is doing it’s annual “Ostrich sticking its head in the sand” impersonation again this year…

  3. I’m suprised this is Stirling’s view especially as his own sister was an extremely talented driver (even though not in F1) The way the driver market works these days women drivers in F1 are looking more and more unlikely.

  4. I think one of the things with women in F1 is that a woman should not join F1 with the mentality that they would be doing so being the first, but rather that they are just another person, another F1 driver, no different from anyone else, because that would/could be the wrong mentality.
    As for women not having the mental aptitude to join F1? It’s a tough one, but I think it’s unfair for Moss to come straight out and say that he thinks they don’t. There’s no way of knowing for sure until women are actually in F1. One of the biggest problems for women are the people who think they do lack mental aptitude, which I imagine for the most part would put seeds of doubt in their minds, making it very difficult to prove that they have the mental aptitude, but there would be strong ones who can pick themselves through and, as I said before, just have the mentality they are just another driver, not focussing on the woman driver part.
    Whilst I say this about women, some male drivers have a similar problem where people say things about them, telling them they aren’t good enough etc, which then gets into their heads causing problems on track. The difference here is that one is about the driver being a not so good driver, the other being about the driver being a woman and therefore not a good driver. It’s literally impossible to say until women have been in F1, and that’s probably only going to happen if they can prove themselves from the lower formula’s, and all the way up (just as men do), that they do have what it takes, but unfortunately, not enough women are joining motor-sport in the first place, which is a shame.

  5. I don’t think women should race F1 cars, wrestle, or enter into combat. I think they can, but they ought not. Just because we can do things does not mean we ought. So I agree with his premise but not his reasons.

  6. I think I’ve been through my thoughts on women F1 drivers at some length before, but I think it’s worth going through again.

    Moss’s comments are disappointing, but hardly unexpected. He’s a relic of a bygone age, and in some respects I think he’s talking more about F1 in his generation than the high tech sport of today. He mentions the sport being dangerous – ultimately the point he makes is about women being unable to supress their natural instinct for self-preservation, and thus are unable to race as hard as men. I’m not sure this is true anyway (certainly, women seem to make excellent frontline soldiers and are equally capable on the field of battle as their male counterparts) but even if it were, motorsport has long since ceased to be the spectacle of death and devastation of yesteryear.

    What is far more disappointing is seeing people agreeing with him. It shows that these negative gender stereotypes are still very much with us. It’s ironic really, given that one of the most prominent news stories at the moment is the death of a woman who proved, thirty years ago, that women are just as capable of succeeding in a man’s world, through their own determination and self confidence. Thatcher certainly had plenty of the traits you might associate with a Schumacher or an Alonso.

    But the sad thing is that I think we’re living in an age where gender stereotypes, far from being broken down, are actually being strongly reinforced. Go to a toy store and have a look at the girls’ section compared with the boys’ section, and you realise that from the youngest age girls are being indoctrinated into the world of ‘pink’, with the focus being put on dressing up, having babies, and domestic chores. This trend is fairly recent, and is getting worse. One of the issues highlighted by the recent London Olympics, is decreasing participation in sports with girls once they reach their teenage years, with cultural pressures being put on them to look and act a certain way, quite in contrast to the ideas of getting sweaty, having muscle, or having any interest in physical accomplishment.

    I don’t know what the solution is. I think that right now, despite there being opportunity for girls to succeed in motorsport, and girls demonstrably having the potential to develop all of the requisite qualities for success at the top level, there is actually less will from girls themselves to participate. Which is sad, and something that people like Moss and his backwards-thinking supporters are doing nothing to help. Nor, indeed, are the likes of Danica Patrick, who, despite being a fairly decent racer in her own right, earns far too much praise for what on the face of it is a fairly unremarkable career, bolstered in the main by her good looks and her media savviness (and, if one were being uncharitable, a certain lack of sophistication on the part of the average American motorsports viewer!). Thatcher is remembered for many many things, almost all of them to do with policy and how she used the power she wielded. Patrick by contrast is remarkable only for the fact she’s a woman. Until female drivers are regarded as just another element of the paddock, rather than some sort of oddity or freakshow, then motorsport can’t really consider itself part of the solution either.

    1. +1 – Good comments.

      Some of your comments about good looks and being media savvy could equally be applied to certain male racers – indeed, Jenson Button used to be derided as a playboy. Maybe the only way to comprehensively shut up the doubters is to wait for a female version of Michael Schumacher to come along. That’s a very, very long shot. I think we’ll have to live with misogyny in racing for a long time.

  7. In defense of Stirling Moss, none of us has direct evidence that women can be successful in Formula 1.
    However, I think that we have plenty of evidence that many fewer women get into motor racing at all. The interesting questions are: Why is that? and what can we do about it?

    I would like to point out that there are female fighter pilots. NASA studies have indicated that female astronauts tend to perform better and crucially tend to be smaller and lighter. Until one requires a penis to control a car, I see no reason (beyond culture) why women should not compete gainfully in F1 and other top-rated motorsports. And I won’t even mention Danica Patrick.

  8. The man is 83. Of course his views on women are going to be out-dated. No need to be nasty to him. He has always liked the sound of his own voice and sometimes he even says stuff that’s worth listening to. But this wasn’t one of those occasions.

  9. Quite frankly, I quite do not understand all the flak Moss is catching. What did he say?
    1. They are strong enough,
    2. he doubts they have mental capacity for close fights,
    3. he doesn’t think they have aptitude to win,
    4. they had competetive drivers in F1 but not good enough to win.
    Ad 1: Obviously this cannot be sexist.
    Ad 2: Well we keep hearing from feminists that women are less combative, less aggressive etc. which might even be true, and Moss is just looking at the very same thing from the other side. It strikes me as hypocritical to protest one and not the other. For the record, I believe that some women are more than combatitive, I have known some that all men in 1 mile radius were scared off (my mother for one). But if other people are free to voice their opinion that women are less combatitive, it would be obviously wrong to hold it against Moss when he says the same, just in different words.
    Ad 3: This is debatable. He was not proved wrong and modern science does not prove him wrong either. It is an opinion, equally valid as some other opinions that we hear regarding men. Men are subject to similar generalizations all the time and I do not recall such an uproar, why now? European union is pushing seriously for having 40% of spots in boards of governors reserved for women based on the same kind of argument and I did not hear any women expressing outrage at being subjected to sexist attitudes.
    Ad 4: Moss obviously says here that women can be good enough to drive in F1, so why the title of the article reads “Sir Stirling Moss says women lack mental aptitude for Formula 1″? Why are so many people shooting him down for denying women place in F1 when he clearly does not do so?

    If current science tells us something, it is the fact that man and women are different. There is no hard data on how those differences play out in F1. All we have is opinions, and Moss voiced his personal opinion based on his experience. True enough, he did not use the words “in general”, but he also did not use the words “all”. Given that his opinion does not contradicts known facts, and that his opinion is objectively not insulting to women, I find that the labels he is getting here are much more insulting and offensive than things he says.

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