Motorsport is constantly evolving and is one of few sports where males and females can compete against each other on equal terms. Today, females have become more visible in the racing world, but the challenges they continue to face keep preventing them from competing at the top tier of racing, especially in Formula 1.

In America, NASCAR’s Xfinity Series had Natalie Decker, and there were three women in the Truck series – Jennifer Jo Cobb, Hailie Deegan, and Jessica Friesen. Tatiana Calderon and Simona de Silvestro raced on street and road courses in IndyCar.

The WEC had an all-female Iron Dames team that competed during the regular season, including the fabled Le Mans 24 Hours race. And this season in F1, female drivers were only represented in development driver roles: Jessica Hawkins with Aston Martin, and Jamie Chadwick with Williams Racing

But while motorsport as a whole continues to make progress with female representation, F1 – which is considered to be the pinnacle of racing – is one major series that doesn’t have a woman driver competing at world championship level. Women currently occupy many high-profile roles across various types of racing series. They are strategists, pit crew members, engineers, team owners, press officers, and more. From a driving perspective, however, females continue to face limited opportunities.

Women consistently prove they can succeed in the same positions as men – they are astronauts, in the military, and are global leaders in many walks of life – yet they can’t get a seat in F1. The series leads the way in the motorsport industry, in terms of technology and innovation but has fallen behind with its lack of access to female drivers, resulting in them not acquiring a permanent spot on the grid. With few prospects of that changing in the near future, providing extra support for women and young girls throughout their time in junior formulas is essential.

The More Than Equal initiative aspires to change the absence of female drivers in F1 over the next 10 years through a specialized program designed to offer support and help break down barriers that are preventing young girls and women from competing at the highest level of motorsport.

Jamie Chadwick W Series at Misano 2019

The W Series was created in response to the lack of opportunities for women in motorsport by offering females a championship to compete in based on merit and equal machinery. The W Series also reached a milestone in its third season and attracted a one million UK audience for the Silverstone race in 2022 – this was also the first time that a non-F1 motorsport event attracted such viewership since 2014.

And what the one million UK audience shows is that not only does an all-female driver series have the potential to draw in similar viewership numbers to those dominated by male drivers. But there is also a significant amount of interest to see women race and, from a business point of view, a valuable market to tap into.

Since the demand to see female drivers compete in racing exists and continues to grow for motorsport spectators, isn't it about time this is reflected at the top level?

More importantly, from a deeper perspective, racing fans – especially the female ones – need to feel represented on track and have role models that they can relate to in a personal way. If young girls and women can see a female driver competing in the most elite racing series in the world then they can have hope and the courage to follow their dreams on the racetrack.   

Motorsport is an expensive sport that requires large amounts of money to compete in, from the early stages of karting – see a pint-sized Lewis Hamilton in Cadet karts, below –  to climbing the ranks to the top-tier racing series such as F1.

Lewis Hamilton at Super One British Kart Championship 1995

One of the major issues female drivers encounter throughout their racing career has to do with the lack of funding available and finding long-term sponsors. Although this problem exists for male drivers, it’s a greater concern for female drivers, who also have to face double standards and overcome old-school perceptions of what a racer should be.

Without proper financial backing and sponsors, female drivers are often denied access to quality equipment, programs, physical training – and the best cars – further putting them at a disadvantage to male drivers.

More Than Equal aims to one day have a female driver not only compete in F1 but become a World Champion. The initiative which has been founded by former F1 driver David Coulthard and entrepreneur Karel Komarek wants to build a framework to identify barriers that prevent women’s entry and continuation in motorsport and then work towards bringing down these barriers all the way to a permanent F1 seat.

With initiatives such as Girls on Track, FIA WIM (Women in Motorsport commission), and various other organizations, the motorsport industry keeps pushing for more female drivers to compete in all racing series. And while Girls on Track and FIA WIM provide young girls and women support in their racing careers, an organization such as More Than Equal is essential for aspiring female drivers who want to compete at the top level of racing because it focuses solely on F1.  

Coulthard believes that if More Than Equal can find young girls from all over the world who desire and hunger to be racecar drivers, then the initiative can put together a support system that will provide the resources needed to help them get into F1. Above all, More Than Equal will strive to provide young girls the same opportunities and support as young boys at the earliest stage in their racing career, so they have plenty of time to achieve the goal of making it into F1 within 10 years.

At the moment, the pathway into F1 feels like a daunting one that's filled with uncertainty for female drivers, but the future looks promising because of initiatives like More Than Equal. With the proper support and financial backing over the course of their racing careers, female drivers are becoming one step closer to breaking the barriers into F1.