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Vettel criticises F1 boss for comment about women drivers

formula one grand prix of emilia romagna
Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali (above) used a "very unlucky choice of words" when he said it was "very unlikely" a woman will be on the grid within five years

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel criticised Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali on Thursday for saying he doubted the sport would have a female driver within the next five years unless there was some sort of meteoric shock.

Domenicali told reporters ahead of the weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps that, “realistically speaking”, he could not see a woman reaching the pinnacle of motorsport in that time frame.

Formula One has not had a female driver start a grand prix since 1976.

Aston Martin’s Vettel, who won his titles with Red Bull and is retiring at the end of the season, said the Italian — a former boss of Ferrari — had made a “very unlucky choice of words”.

“It’s statements like that that I guess women, or girls, are probably confronted with when they grow up and (are) sharing their dreams,” he told reporters.

“Sitting at breakfast saying ‘I want to become a racing driver’ and then the father might have just read exactly that statement and making it clear to her ‘but you do like other things, why not focus on other things?’

“And then maybe they do focus on other things and drop racing or the idea,” said the German.

“It’s important that we don’t say these things because there are sparks everywhere. I don’t see a reason why we can’t have a woman on the grid. I think the challenges we are facing can be faced by women.

“I encourage every girl at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table to speak up and prove Stefano in this regard wrong and all these people wrong…I think this sort of stereotypical thinking has to disappear completely.”

Britain’s Jamie Chadwick, 24, is heading for her third title in the all-female W Series, which supports Formula One at selected races, but has yet to make a move to the FIA Formula Three or Formula Two feeder series.

Domenicali said it was important to give young women every opportunity to get to Formula One but that meant starting out on the ladder, from karting onwards, at the same age as the men.

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