Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Legge's Eleven

It's not often that we see a member of the fairer sex driving an F1 car. This week Katherine Legge, an English girl who has been racing in the US, achieved her dream of driving an F1 car when she took the wheel of a Minardi at Vallelunga near Rome.

She put up a pretty good show, narrowly missing out on fastest time of the day. OK, she was around seven seconds behind the Ferraris that tested earlier in the month, but it's colder now and, let's face it, she was driving a Minardi. She'll also get to test a champ car soon, but another season in Formula Atlantic beckons before she start racing wheel to wheel with Danica Patrick in America's primary road racing series.

There have been other moves to get women into F1, as it's considered that there would be good marketing opportunities. From memory, the last lady to attempt to qualify for an F1 race was Giovanna Amati back in 1992, but a Brabham was not the thing to have in those days; future World Champion Damon Hill only qualified for two races in that car, and he had a lot more track time. And in 2002, Sarah Fisher was given the chance to drive a McLaren at Indianapolis.

Going further back, the most successful female driver, in terms of championship points scored, was Lella Lombardi. She finished sixth in the aborted 1975 Spanish GP, and as the race was stopped before half distance, half points were awarded. So Ms Lombardi scored precisely half a point, and as that was her only ever points scoring finish, that remains her total. Still, that's better than the zero points that many men end up with!

It's looking increasingly likely that we'll see a woman racing in F1 within the next few years. Whether it'll be Katherine, Danica, Sarah or somebody else is impossible to tell. But whoever it is, F1 will be the better for it.

PS I really don't know what "Eleven" has got to do with anything, but those old bingo calls have to be dragged out occasionally!


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