Alpine, owned by Renault, on Thursday launched a program to increase the number of women on its Formula One team and help female drivers for the first time in half a century.
Only two women have raced in Formula One since the World Championship began in 1950, the last being the late Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.
Chief Executive Laurent Rossi told Reuters the idea was to transform Alpine as a sports car manufacturer and as a team, and to “debunk myths” by giving women the same opportunities as men.
“We want to make sure we give women access to every job, every opportunity at Alpine,” he said, adding that women will soon make up half of the company’s executive committee.
“Without a more balanced representation of women in the workforce, I’m effectively depriving Alpine and myself of 50% of the talent… I feel like I’m missing half of my team,” he added.
The goal is to increase the proportion of women employed by the company to 30% within five years from the current level of 12%.
Only 10% of the British F1 team are women.
An eight-year funded racing development program will take young girls away from karting and provide training and support that was previously lacking.
“Our goal is to debunk all the myths that women can’t because they are not adapted, because they don’t have role models, because the work we offer is not meant for women,” Rossi said.
“We want to debunk all these myths one by one and make sure that for every opportunity offered at Alpine, women always have an equal chance of getting a job because they can.”
Alpine said it will use research from the Paris Brain Institute to “break stereotypes” and break down “pseudo-scientific perceived barriers” to female riders in a male-dominated sport.
Fernando Alonso is 41 years old. [in July] and he drives a Formula One car. I think Fernando Alonso at 41 is not as strong as a perfectly athletic female athlete at 30,” Rossi said, citing female fighter jet pilots and astronauts as examples.
“You can drive a Formula 1 car with the right preparation and that is what we intend to do. We want to train women the same way men are trained.”
The Women’s W Series was launched in 2019 to help women move up the F1 ladder, but original champion Jamie Chadwick still competes in the championship and has yet to move up.