Billionaire Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone has this week come out with a controversial statement regarding the absence of women in the sport.
According to Ecclestone, female drivers aren’t strong enough to win in the competitive world of Formula One racing.
“I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly, and they wouldn’t be taken seriously,” Ecclestone told the The Daily Beast from London.
What spurred his comment on was a query on whether Formula One would join a growing campaign to get more women into motorsport. Ecclestone subsequently made his views crystal clear, as he has on numerous occasions in the past.
In an interview with The Timesnewspaper back in 2009, Ecclestone overstepped his mark when he spoke about diversity and the business of marketability in the sport.
“I would love to have a good lady race driver and preferably black and Jewish, too, but they might take maternity leave.”
His remarks towards women haven’t all been intentionally derogatory though. In 2015 Ecclestone made an attempt to give his consent to women by suggesting an exclusive all-female race series.
“For some reason, women are not coming through – and not because we don’t want them. Of course we do, because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors,” he said.
Following that poor attempt at balancing gender equality, Ecclestone said in 2005: “Women should be dressed in white, just like all the other domestic appliances.”
Ex-Formula One driver of the Williams team, Susie Wolff, responded to the remarks saying that women can be successful in the sport.
“A woman can be physically fit enough to drive a Formula 1 car. I did the race distance in Barcelona so I have proved that it is possible.”
She continued by alleviating the fierce backlash by saying that, “like anybody else, when I heard the comments at first I thought ‘Wow, how could he have said that?’ But when I looked into it, the comments are taken completely out of context.”
“There was a much wider interview around the topic and actually his comments weren’t as bad as they sounded.”
“I’m not on the defensive for Bernie here,” she continued.
“We agreed on some topics and I can only be completely honest that every step of the way in my quest to make it on to the Formula 1 starting grid he’s been supportive.”
Regardless of the raging debate regarding women in the sport, Ecclestone didn’t hold back, even sharing his own opinion on Donald Trump as President.
“I think he’d be fantastic. Putin would tell him what to do.”
Now watch Susie Wolff drive the Williams F1 car at Silverstone.