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Motorsports is still a male-dominated field, but many women have proven that they are just as fast. Sophia Flörsch, Catie Munnings, Simona de Silvestro and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky are women who set milestones as female drivers in motorsports. They are also invested in esports racing and have their own opinion on how to support women in motorsports.
19-year-old Formula 3 racer Sophia Flörsch proved many voices wrong who claimed that racing would only be suitable for men. She was the first female driver to gain points at the German Formula 4 and in 2017, she became the first woman to make it to the podium at Sachsenring. But her strongest achievement has been returning to racing after a terrible crash in 2018.
A huge motivation for her comeback was the fact that she wanted to prove misogynist comments wrong, as she explains in an interview with the Telegraph.
If I had said no, that I wasn’t going to come back, many people would have blamed it on me being a woman. ‘Oh, she’s not tough enough,’ they would have said. ‘Typical girl.’ That would have hurt not just me, but also the role of women in motorsport. There are still many who don’t trust a woman to be as fast as a man, or to be as tough or as stubborn. That’s what we are fighting against and trying to prove. It gets better, but you don’t change some minds from one day to the next. I feel that people treat me with more respect now. They also perhaps have more trust in a woman to do this.
Flörsch is also quite involved in esports racing. Not only does she participate at events herself, she also made headlines recently when she called out a women-only esports racing event as a marketing stunt.
British rally driver Catie Munnings joins Flörsch in establishing milestones. She became the first woman in motorsports to get backing by Red Bull when the team signed her in 2019. Apart from her success on the tracks, she also appeared on television with her childrens’ show “Catie’s Amazing Machines” in 2018 where she explained the role and mechanics of various vehicles.
Munnings has experience in front of the camera at esports racing events as well. Most recently, she worked as a commentator at the DiRT World Series. She shares a similar opinion as Flörsch on women-only events. She does not approve of the separation as she revealed in an interview with Express.co. Munnings argues funding women would be the way to go to support them in esports racing and motorsports.
It’s always about funding, but if we could get more funding supporting the girls that actually have the potential to be as fast as the guys then that is definitely the better way to go about it.
Simona de Silvestro
Simona de Silvestro is a Swiss IndyCar, FIA Formel E and V8 Supercars driver. The 31-year-old has been a part of the professional racing scene for several years and in 2019, she became the first woman to score a works driving contract with Porsche. Part of her new occupation includes simulator work at the company’s headquarters and the attendance at selected Formula E events.
de Silvestro was a guest in our eleventh episode of Nitro Nights. There she explained that so far, there has not been a proper chance for a good female pilot to get a good race car. She hopes she will be able to chance the stigma against women in motorsports with her new position at Porsche and display that if a woman has the right equipment, she is just as capable to race at the top.
The Swedish driver Mikaela Šhlin-Kottulinsky is known for her racing at TCR Scandinavia Touring Car Championship (STCC). Previously, she competed in the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup where she became the first woman to ever win a Volkswagen sponsored championship. In 2018, she claimed the title as first female driver to win an STCC race.
She has also used simulators to practice her real racing and helped Sector3 Studios to make their title RaceRoom more realistic. In 2015, she collaborated with the developer to give them feedback, helping their physics team improve the handling of the in-game Audi Sport TT Cup car.
If you want to read more about women in esports racing and motorsport, check out our part one of our “The most famous female sim racers” series”.