All motorsport fans are well aware that that the letter ‘E’ that goes after the word ‘Formula’ stands for electric in the sport’s premier street racing series.
Lately, it’s becoming increasingly evident that you could also call the series ‘Formula Equality’ due to the increasing number of women who are working in the sport and in a variety of roles, from race engineers to logistics, public relations and even drivers and team principals.
And, according to Liz Brooks, Head of Media and Communications for the ROKiT Venturi Racing Formula E team, being a woman working in motorsport has only ever been an advantage.
“I’ve had 20 years now of working in motorsport, starting out in superbikes before going into F1 with Eddie Jordan, and being a woman has never been a disadvantage, it has only been an advantage,” Liz told Motorsport Technology. “I have been able to get more out of my drivers because of my emotional intuity. Women are educated slightly differently to men and it’s maybe easier for us to go that little bit further than perhaps a guy working with another guy go because they don’t want to appear small, or appear less of a person by grabbing the coffee or the can of Red Bull or the bananas that someone needs, and those things foster really strong relationships.
“It’s never been a disadvantage being a woman, it may be a disadvantage being too kind, but it’s never been a disadvantage being a woman. There are plenty of challenges, and those challenges happen regardless of gender, a lot of the time, and there are challenges that are specific to being a woman, but for me being a woman has never held me back. Often, when people think about hospitality in F1 they immediately assume it’s a women’s job but some of the best people in hospitality I know are men. The majority of PR roles in motorsport do tend to be taken by women, and there’s a reason for that. The majority of journalists are men but that’s changing, too.”
Unique amongst motorsport teams, ROKiT Venturi Racing has a female team boss in former race driver, Susie Wolff. And, according to Venturi Formula E Team Manager, Delphine Biscaye, she is an inspirational leader.
“It’s very nice to work with another woman,” says Delphine. “Sometimes women have different perspectives on things. We are sometimes more organised and focused on detail. Susie is very, very focused on detail and has a very clear view on any topic and will often pick up on the little things you perhaps haven’t seen. It’s very interesting to work with her because she always picks up on the most important things very, very quickly and always striving to make the team progress.
“She’s a mother as well, so she has that same kind of obligation to her team and the people. She’s also a good asset because of her technical and driving background and she’s very protective, in a way, of her team.”
It all adds up to make ROKiT Venturi Racing arguably the most gender neutral of all teams in motorsport, even to the point of putting a female driver behind the wheel.
“We are really lucky, because I don’t think there’s another Formula E team or maybe even team in top tier motorsport that has such a high level of women,” adds Brooks. “Our head of partnerships is female, our head of logistics is female. Equally, Susie would say that Venturi does not recruit based on gender, it’s the best person for the job. If you happen to be a woman, then great.
“Drivers too. We had Simona (de Sivestro) last season as a development driver and she was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, Porsche stole her from us this season but we are one of the teams that would very happily put a competitive woman if they were available and we had a spot for them, jump at the opportunity.”