This weekend’s British Grand Prix will mark 72 years of Formula One and in that time, there has never been a female world champion.
But a trailblazing new initiative in 2022, spearheaded by 13-time Grand Prix winner David Coulthard, could emphatically mark the start of changing that.
Coulthard has joined forces with philanthropist Karel Komarek to launch >= More Than Equal, a campaign designed to put a woman at the top of the motorsport world.
>= More Than Equal will undertake a global search for the best racing talent among girls and provide those with potential the support they need to reach motor racing’s highest podium, setting a timeframe of eight to 10 years for their recruits to earn a seat in Formula One.
And Coulthard, 51, said: “I’ve lived the experience first-hand, within my family, that it is possible for women to compete with men.“We haven’t seen it at the highest level because there hasn’t been enough women coming in at the grassroots.
“I’m the middle of three children and we were all given equal opportunity to go racing, Lyndsay, my sister, wasn’t given a lesser opportunity and she was a winner in karting.
“But she lost the opportunity when I got the chance to be a professional racer in cars. The whole family was excited that we could go to Formula One, and then the focus and support went away from her career.
“What we need and what Karel and I have aligned on is an initiative that supports young girls in karting, gives them the vision, gives them the belief that there is a route to the top.
“And that’s where >= More Than Equal sits and that’s why we start today the beginning of what will be a long journey of support to make sure that we have women in Formula One in my lifetime.
”Coulthard will use his 14 years’ experience as a Formula One driver alongside the support of renowned high-performance coaching company Hintsa Performance to build racecraft, looking at both physical and mental skills.
Komarek, the founder and owner of the KKCG group, is co-funding the initiative with Coulthard and is committing to a multi-year strategy that will culminate with a woman as Formula One world champion.
He said: “In order to be able to compete, you have to start at the same age as male drivers, which are usually starting around 10 to 12.
“To put someone in for one season, that’s fine, but you need to have constant long-standing support throughout the whole way in order to achieve something.
“And this is not only to achieve the title, but it’s also how to engage and encourage a lot of young girls to realise their dreams, because they don’t know that they can do that right now.
”The duo cite data from Hintsta which has found no evidence that women cannot physically compete against men in Formula One.
Women last raced in the premier class of motorsport in 1976 and the initiative are now focused on identifying and breaking down the societal barriers that have hindered women in the past.
Coulthard and Komarek will be joined on the >= More Than Equal advisory board by the likes of Kate Beavan, a lawyer with 25 years of experience in Formula One, and Julia George, a sponsorship expert.
Beavan said: “Fundamentally, Formula One doesn’t care who you are, or what you are underneath at all, as long as you can get the job done.
“I think that there are obviously problems with women progressing in motorsport that shouldn’t be there and that’s what I hope and think that we can address with this project.
“The aim and objective of getting a woman Formula One World Champion is achievable and I think that’s what makes >= More Than Equal special is that everyone involved in it believes that it’s achievable in the timeframes we set.”
More information about the initiative is available on the website www.MoreThanEqual.com and updates will also be available on the Instagram profile @more.thanequal