LONDON (Reuters) - Spanish racing driver Carmen Jorda has suggested women could be better suited to Formula E than Formula One because the all-electric cars are less physically challenging.
The comments, made to reporters after the 29-year-old former Lotus and Renault F1 development driver tried out a Formula E car in Mexico City at the weekend, drew criticism from other women racers.
“My eyes rolled so far back in my head I nearly passed out,” said Britain’s Pippa Mann, a regular competitor in the Indianapolis 500, on Twitter.
“She does know that the reason IndyCar drivers are bulkier than F1 drivers is that we have to lift bigger weights because our races have no power steering at all, and that women succeed over here right?”
Jorda, who also sits on the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA)’s women’s commission, said the Formula E car was easier for women to drive.
“It’s a less physical car than in Formula One because of the downforce and because of the power steering as well,” ESPN quoted her as saying.
“The challenge that we women have in Formula Two and Formula One is a physical issue and I think in Formula E, we won’t have it,” added the Spaniard.
Jorda, who has never raced a Formula One car and achieved only modest results in junior series, has also advocated an all-female motor racing championship.
Claire Williams, deputy principal of the family-run Williams Formula One team, expressed her firm opposition to that idea when asked about it at pre-season testing in Barcelona last week.
“I think women should be able to compete alongside men,” she said. “Why would you segregate them?
“We’ve always been a sport that has allowed women to compete alongside men...so why would we now want to make what I view as a regressive step by creating an all-women championship?”
Formula One has not had a woman driver on the starting grid since 1976. The most recent woman to compete in Formula E was Swiss racer Simona de Silvestro in 2016.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond