Max Verstappen has played down the lack of female drivers who make it to the top of motorsport.
Verstappen‘s mother, Sophie Kumpen, was an excellent go-karter in the 1990s, racing and beating the likes of 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
To address the lack of representation of women on the F1 grid, F1 Academy was launched in 2023 as an all-woman racing series, with Spain’s Marta Garcia winning the inaugural championship.
For 2024, all ten F1 teams will have a driver representing them on the F1 Academy grid, with the series also being a part of the support bill at seven Grand Prix.
“I think if you look at the percentage of men and women in racing, I think already for men, you know, the percentage is, of course, very low to get into Formula 1,” explained Verstappen to the media. “So naturally, for women, it’s even harder because there are less women.
“Of course, I do think physically driving F1 in some places is quite tough, but I do think that it’s all trainable if you work hard for it, but it is, of course, naturally a little bit harder for a woman.
“But if you have enough talent, then of course it is possible because I don’t think team bosses are people who make decisions to choose their drivers look at it, like oh no, ‘we only go for men’.
“You know, if there’s a woman who was beating everyone else, then naturally they will have the opportunity to get to Formula 1, but it’s just that there are fewer women in the sport and actually, of course, the percentage to make it to the top is lower.”
Not losing motivation during dominant run
Victory at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finished Verstappen‘s dominant 2023 season, which has seen him secure his third consecutive world championship and win over 85 percent of this season’s races with 19 victories.
Verstappen‘s highlights from 2023 included a 10-race winning streak, which was secured at September’s Italian GP, as well as moving to joint third on F1‘s all-time winners list.
However, there are concerns Verstappen could retire early from F1 due to growing discontent with the sport after openly criticising Sprint races and an expanding calendar this year.
“I don’t really think about it too much, to be honest, and especially not comparing it to any other sport because it all works a bit differently,” addressed Verstappen when asked about losing motivation.
“I think in that way, everyone is quite unique, but I love driving. I think that’s, first and foremost, the most important thing to get to be here, and of course, winning is the best thing in F1.
“So for me, naturally, the motivation is there because I know that for most of the races that I go to this year, I have a big chance of winning, so naturally, that’s great.
“I think [it] is, of course, tougher when you have been in a position, and then you come to a race weekend where it’s not possible anymore then it is hard, to find your motivation, and then you need to try and look into different places how you can keep that motivation going.
“But at the moment, of course, when you’re on the top, I think it’s probably easier than when you’re maybe in the middle of the pack.”