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GP Week : Issue 149
In Paris, where I live, swarthy salesmen holding bunches of roses nip in and out of restaurants and bars on the look out for couples. They proffer a rose, and hold out a palm for a couple of heavy coins. Frankly, only lovestruck tourists buckle. The correct response, in local parlance, is “Non merci, on a déja baisé”. Translation: “No thanks, we’ve already f****d!” Whether the statement is true or not, it gets a laugh and you’re off the hook for two Euros. Of course, there are enough Tiffany’s boutiques clogging up airports and shopping malls to suggest many men are more generous than, well, me. I can see the point when you’re courting, but when you’re married? It makes you look guilty, that’s what it does. Now, I’m not accusing Williams shareholder Toto Wolff of having done anything he should be ashamed about – except for damaging the credibility of women racing drivers! We would all love to see a lady race in F1. Bernie Ecclestone would love to see it because it would be box office gold. But the reason it hasn’t happened yet – well, not since 1992 – is that no one’s turned up with a XX chromosome and sufficient talent. Positive discrimination will make it worse. If we see a female F1 driver tooling around at the back it will only serve to reinforce ugly stereotypes. Danica Patrick and Honda talked about six years ago, but Danica concluded she had more chance of success in the States and she was probably right. There are some promising females in karting and junior single-seaters right now, and perhaps F1 teams should be looking to groom one or two of them, Lewis Hamilton-style, to produce the perfect wonder woman. Someone young enough to be a serious consideration – i .e in their teens. Mrs Wolff – Susie - is 29. Marussia’s Maria de Villota – also named as a ‘test driver’ – is 32. And neither has the on-track qualifications to countenance a race seat. The best result MdV boasts is a fourth place finish in a Superleague Formula race. Wolff, née Stoddart (right), has contested six seasons of DTM and has scored just four points from 61 starts. I hasten to add that both of these drivers would undoubtedly kick most of our arses if challenged to a race. By any normal barometer, they are fast drivers. But not in the company of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel. Not at this top level. You don’t move from the back of the DTM grid into F1 – you have to do a Paul di Resta and win the bugger. We have seen some terrific lady racers in other areas of motorsport, like rallying’s Michèle Mouton. She took four wins in some of the most bonkers cars ever and against the toughest competition in WRC. I fear that the obvious nepotism of Susie Wolff’s appointment at Williams undermines the achievements of Mouton and the efforts of Alice Powell (19), Carmen Jorda (23) and Vicky Piria (18), who are working their way up the traditional ladder without the benefit of such wealthy and well-connected backing. If they get to F1, I hope it will be because they’re good enough and nothing else. Which leads me to the other factor with Susie Wolff (and Piria could easily find herself painted with the same brush) that was rather inelegantly raised by Mr E in Williams’ press release: “If Susie is as quick in a car as she looks good out of a car then she will be a massive asset to any team” . Shudder. Have we just time-traveled to 1970? Whatever Susie’s fit-v-fast balance, she’s nowhere near quick enough for F1. Full stop. So let’s concentrate on finding people who are. And if they’re female and give the sport wider appeal, that’s a bonus. Toto Wolff is clearly a very generous fellow – and a lucky man. But I wish he’d just say it with chocolates. IT BEATS A BOX OF CHOCOLATES OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLS F1 Editor OPINION 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: