Formula One (F1) is the pinnacle of motorsport, where the best drivers in the world compete for glory and fame. Why are there no F1 female drivers is it because females aren’t as good a driver or is it simply an extension of the patriarchy raising its head again.
Why are there only male drivers – is there any differences between a male and female that make the difference? Or is it because only male drivers have had the opportunities in the past? Are there any differences in their strength, abilities, or capabilities
In this article, we will explore these questions and more. We will look at the physiological and psychological differences. We also look at what opportunities female drivers have in 2023 and what can be done to promote gender equality in this exciting and demanding sport.
The Differences In Male And Female Body Types
Apart from the obvious anatomical differences, males have a huge advantage over females in terms of their body characteristics.
Body Structure Differences
The students displayed the following general differences.
- Girls have narrower shoulders than their male counterparts which reduces weight lifting capability.
- Females have a higher percentages of slow-twitch fibers than men. These produce lower amounts of force than fast-twitch fibers.
- Men have larger hearts.
- The average 18- to 22-year-old woman has about 22 – 26% body fat, whereas the average man of similar age has about 12 – 16%. This means that women have a lower percentage of functional tissue, namely lean-body.
- Male have greater muscle mass. The study found that male students are and 15.7% (i.e. 11.4 kg) heavier than the female students.
Manual Strength (Handgrip Test)
Males have 30.8% higher strength than females – male (44.0 ± 5 kg) compared to female subjects (31.0 ± 4 kg).
The study found that males were 43.7% stronger than the female subjects.
The 5 Successive Jumps Test
The 5 Jump Test performances was 23.5% higher in men compared to women.
The Squat Jump
The average height recorded in male and female students during Squat Jumps was respectively 32.4 ± 2.7 cm and 21.1 ± 1.9 cm. In real terms the male students jumping performance was 34.7% higher than the female students.
F1 Female Drivers – Strength Comparison
The following data is extracted from a study conducted by Matt Brzycki of Princeton titled “Gender differences in strength: a comparison of male and female world-record performances in powerlifting” – Link.
The study used data from male and female world record holders in the different weight categories.
It found that the maximum weight lifting capability of the athletes varied by the weight class they competed in.
The study concluded that on average the following weight lifting capacity that males athletes enjoy over female athletes is as follows.
|Exercise||Female||Male||% of Male|
In terms of weightlifting capability men are 30% stronger than women.
Comparison Of Testing For Squats
the world-record performances by women in the squat and the deadlift ranged from 65.766 –76.984% and 69.032 – 78.519% of their male counterparts
|Weight Class||Female||Male||% of |
Comparison of female and male world-record performances in the squat. (Weights are in kg’s)
Comparison Of Testing For Bench Press
The world record performances by women in the bench press ranged from 60.563 – 70.667% of men compared to the reported range of 35 – 79% for gender differences in absolute upper-body strength.
|Weight Class||Female||Male||% of Male|
Comparison of female and male world-record performances in the bench press. (Weights are in kgs)
Comparison Of Testing For Deadlift
The world record performances by women in the Deadlift ranged from 77.1484 – 69.7987% of men.
|Weight Class||Female||Male||% of |
The exercise reviewed nine studies by Laubach (1976) which generally stronger than women.
It found that, in comparison to men, the absolute lower-body and upper-body strength of women is about 57 – 86% (averaging 71.9%) and 35 – 79% (averaging 55.8%), respectively.
In absolute terms, men are much stronger than women. However, men have a significant additional advantage in that they are significantly larger and heavier than women. In terms of absolute strength. The greater body size of men gives them an additional advantage over women.
Comparison Of Endurance Between Male And Females
When a comparison is made of top athletes only small differences separate men and women.
An area that is being investigated is in the capability differences between the sexes to manage heat. Women start to sweat at higher heats then a men. This implies that their body cooling only kicks into action at higher temperatures.
Research suggests that this puts them at a greater risk of cardiovascular strain and orthostatic intolerance (Link).
Men have larger hearts, greater muscle mass, more hemoglobin, and less body fat to carry. This means that, in terms of endurance, they consume more oxygen giving them an advantage in terms of endurance.
Comparison Of Risk Taking Between Male And Females
Being a formula 1 driver requires the person to be a risk taker to a certain extent. We looked at the differences between men and women to find if this affected potential F1 drivers.
In a study conducted by Nichole R. Lighthall (Link) it was found that gender differences are amplified even further under stress.
Male risk-taking tends to increase under stress, while female risk taking tends to decrease under stress.
This could have many possible implications for an F1 driver.
- Male drivers may be more prone to take an impulsive risk (possibly leading to an accident)
- Female drivers may e less aggressive and less willing to take an informed risk where they have weighed the odds and respond to the situation.
All the studies we researched were conducted on average people. Whether they are male or female F1 drivers are anything but average, and therefore the differences between them in this regard may end up being tiny.
Is There A Future For F1 Female Drivers?
There is no question that men have physical differences that give them a leg up as drivers in F1. Having said that there are some exceptional female drivers in the lower classes who are beating males at their own game.
This is why the F1 Academy has been started. It aims to give girls early assistance which includes all the skills they will need to get into F1.
Susie Wolff (Wife of Mercedes team Principal – Toto Wolff) heads up the F1 Academy, She has said that she believes it will be ten years of females receiving this level of support before we will see a lady F1 driver (Link)
A comparison of male and female Formula 1 (F1) drivers reveals several notable differences in body characteristics and performance abilities.
Males generally possess physical advantages such as broader shoulders, larger hearts, greater muscle mass, and lower body fat percentage.
Men tend to display a greater inclination for risk-taking under stressful conditions, while women often exhibit more cautious decision-making. It is important to note that these studies are based on average individuals, and the disparities between male and female F1 drivers, who are far from average, may be minimal in practice.
Despite any physical limitation there is a group of female drivers who are blazing a path to F1. My view is they will find a way to overcome physical differences an eventually they will be challenging the men.
- The effect of body composition on strength and power in male and female students (BMC Sports Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation) – Link
- Gender Differences In Strength: A Comparison Of Male And Female World-Record Performances In Powerlifting – Matt Brzyck (Princeton University) – Link
- Sex Differences in VO2max and the Impact on Endurance-Exercise Performance – Paul B. Tchounwou (Int J Environ Res Public Health) – Link
Read More About The Female Drivers In The 2023 F1 Academy
- Bianca Bustamante – Future F1 Driver? (f1worldwide.com)
- Is Jamie Chadwick going to be the first female F1 driver (f1worldwide.com)
- Luna Fluxá: the First Female Driver in the Mercedes Junior Program (f1worldwide.com)
- Chloe Grant Scottish Racing Sensation (f1worldwide.com)
- Aurélia Nobels: A Future F1 Great? (f1worldwide.com)
- Will Abbi Pulling Be The First Female F1 Driver? (f1worldwide.com)