Carmen Jorda clarifies comments over 'too physical' Formula 1
Representative on Women in Motor Sport Commission denies she believes female drivers are not strong enough to race in F1
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 13/12/18 4:14pm
Carmen Jorda has insisted she never meant to discourage female drivers from trying to compete in Formula 1.
The former GP3 and Lotus development driver, who sits on the FIA's Women in Motor Sport Commission, was criticised by women and former world champion Jenson Button after saying that there was a "physical issue" for women to race in F1 compared to the all-electric Formula E series.
Jorda has since issued a statement on social media to clarify her comments, saying she was only talking from personal experience and not suggesting that women could never race in F1.
"On Saturday, after testing a Formula E car before Mexico City E-Prix, I spoke to several journalists about the experience," she said.
"During one interview I was asked to compare driving a Formula E car to a Formula 1 car, and then specifically, whether Formula E is easier for women to compete in than Formula 1.
"Having some experience of both cars, I gave my personal opinion that driving a Formula E car presents less of a physical challenge than Formula 1, because of the lower downforce.
"I also referred to there being a 'physical issue' for women in Formula 1, something which has created considerable debate over the last few days - including from many prominent women within our sport.
"I would like to thank fellow drivers for sharing their opinions, and respect their views greatly. I am sorry if my comments appeared to speak for all women and created all confusion - as I was reflecting merely my own personal experience.
"I never intended to discourage other women from competing at the pinnacle of our sport, or say that they physically cannot."
Oh Carmen, you’re not helping proper female racing drivers with this comment. Ask @DanicaPatrick about being 💪🏽 enough to drive a race car! She’d kick my butt in the gym & she’s probably as strong as any driver on the F1 Grid right now. Physical barrier is not your issue Carmen https://t.co/hbyMzrCypg— Jenson Button (@JensonButton) March 6, 2018
The FIA's decision last December to appoint Jorda to their women's commission courted controversy among female drivers, particularly as the Spaniard has pushed for the creation of a women-only motorsport series.
However, Jorda has made clear she is "committed to encouraging more women to become in our sport" and expressed hope that Tatiana Calderon, who was this week re-signed as Sauber's test driver for another season, could "become the first woman in 41 years to race on the Formula 1 grid".
Wolff: Female drivers need our support
Jorda's comments inevitably proved a topic of discussion in the F1 paddock at winter testing.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, whose wife Susie became the first woman to compete in F1 practice sessions for 30 years with Williams in 2014, believes women should be encouraged to achieve their motorsport ambitions.
"First of all, I think everyone is entitled to have an opinion," he told Sky Sports News.
"Carmen never drove a Formula 1 car so she will not know. I have seen Susie, Simona de Silvestro and others perform on a level that was very close to the boys considering that they didn't have enough running time.
"So I believe for the cause we need to support all the girls that thrive for the top, and tell them they can achieve everything in the world, you have no limits, you can become a Formula 1 world champion, you can become the best engineer or journalist and not set limitations."