Alpine launches a program to feminize and find the 2030 world champion

F1 is a mixed sport, on paper. In fact, in 72 years, only two women have taken the start of a Grand Prix, Maria Teresa de Filippis in 1958 and Lella Lombardi from 1974 to 1976. Faced with this imbalance, the teams are starting to move. By launching its “Rac(H)er” program on Thursday June 30, Alpine is entering the race. Previously, in 2021, Ferrari had notably welcomed a first young woman into its prestigious academy, the Dutch-Belgian Maya Weug, joined in 2022 by the Spaniard Laura Camps Torras. Briton Jamie Chadwick, winner of her second W Series title, also aspires to find a seat.

With “Rac(H)er”, a mixed translation of “pilot” and “elle”, Alpine wants “breaking down societal barriers and clichés“which prevent women from reaching the elite of motorsport, explains its CEO Laurent Rossi to AFP.

Concretely, the team will launch in the coming weeks a call for applications to recruit four or five teenagers from ten to twelve years old, gifted for karting, where all the pilots do their classes. The objective: to lead at least one driver to be part of the 20 of F1 within eight years, the estimated time to train them and climb the ladder.

We really need to be able to detect potential from an early age and follow the training program“, explains Claire Mesnier, director of human resources at Alpine. The Dieppe brand first wants to dismantle an old belief and show that “women are at least as capable as men of driving F1s“, explains Rossi. He takes the example of “women who fly fighter jets, who are astronauts, who collect G (acceleration) otherwise more violent, certainly potentially a little different“.

Alpine will work with “the Brain Institute on the cognitive part, physiotherapists and physiotherapists on the physical part, a PhD student on the emotional part“, abounds Claire Mesnier, for”find out if there are differences on these different components or not” between men and women. The results will be used to refine training, to make it more specific. The Renault group’s sports brand also promises the launch of a fund to finance female talent.

Beyond the physical and financial aspects, the glass ceiling would be above all cultural. The under-representation of women in motorsport stems from that of the engineering sector. In France as in England, where the two “engine” and “chassis” factories of the team are located, these sectors have respectively 32% and 23% of female students, for even fewer graduate engineers, recalls Claire Mesnier.

And in very specialized, specialized schools, like the Estaca (Higher School of Aeronautical Techniques and Automotive Construction), which is one of the target schools, there are only 8% of female students“, she still regrets. Alpine, which has only 12% of female engineers, has set itself the goal of reaching 30% in five years, by establishing parity in recruitment.


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