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Alpine launch programme to help female drivers reach F1

The programme will span eight years and include training and support for the young drivers; Jamie Chadwick has been the closest to making the step into Formula Three but currently still races in the W Series which returns this weekend at Silverstone, live on Sky Sports

Image: Alpine will work with young female drivers in an eight-year programme to help them develop from go-karting to the heights of Formula One

Alpine have launched a programme to increase the number of women at their Formula One team and help female drivers reach the top for the first time in half a century.

Called Race(H)er, the funded racing development programme will span eight years and take young girls on a pathway from karting and provide training and support that has been previously lacking.

Only two women have started a Formula One race since the world championship began in 1950, and the last was the late Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.

Chief executive Laurent Rossi said the idea was to transform Alpine as a sports car manufacturer and as a team and to "debunk myths" by giving women the same opportunities as men.

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"We want to make sure we give access to all of the jobs, all of the opportunities at Alpine, to women," he said.

"By not having a more balanced representation of women in the workforce I basically deprive Alpine and myself of 50 per cent of the talents out there ... I see it as I'm missing half of my team."

The aim is to increase the percentage of women working for the company to 30 per cent within five years from the current level of 12 per cent as, currently, only 10 per cent of the F1 team's British-based workforce is female.

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"The intent is to debunk all of the myths that women can't, because they're not adapted, because they don't have role models, because the jobs we offer are not for women," said Rossi.

"We want to debunk all those myths one by one and make sure that for each opportunity offered at Alpine there's always an equal chance for women to get the job because they can."

Alpine said it will use research carried out by the Paris Brain Institute to "deconstruct stereotypes" and break down "pseudo-scientific alleged hurdles" for women racers in a male-dominated sport.

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He continued: "Fernando Alonso is 41 [in July] and he drives a Formula One car. I think Fernando Alonso at 41 is not as strong as a perfectly fit woman athlete at 30," said Rossi, citing the example of female jet fighter pilots and astronauts.

"You can drive a Formula One car with the right preparation and thats what we intend to do. We want to prepare the women the same way that men are prepared."

The all-female W Series launched in 2019 to help women progress up the motorsport ladder to F1 but the inaugural champion Jamie Chadwick is still competing in the championship having so far failed to make a step up but insists she still strives to one day be competing in Formula One.

"The ultimate goal is to be in those championships, ideally Formula Two and then Formula One," British driver Chadwick told Sky Sports.

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But she added on the physical demands: "I don't know what is actually possible.

"To get into Formula One you have to go through the feeder series - Formula Three and Formula Two - and it is extremely physical.

"Formula One is extremely physical, and we don't know exactly what women are capable of in the sport.

"If you are aged 15 or 16, and go into car racing, without power steering and driving big heavy cars, a lot of women do struggle, even though they have been successful in go-karting.

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"We like to think that women can make it - and I am happy to be the guinea pig and will do my best to push and explore the options to Formula One - but we don't know.

"There hasn't been a woman in the recent era that has done it. I am trying to understand whether that is to do with the physical side.

"If it is physically possible, and women can compete against men, how do we make that happen? However, if it is physically too hard, but the sport wants women to compete, than we have got to bring it back and understand why."

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