• Bernie Eccelstone. (Image. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes) (AAP)Source: AAP
“Racing is a learned thing. It’s not something boys are born with and girls aren’t.”
By
Sarah Norton

Source:
Zela
22 Apr 2016 - 12:30 PM  UPDATED 22 Apr 2016 - 12:30 PM

In case you missed it, the Chief Executive of the Formula One (F1) Group Bernard 'Bernie' Eccelstone caused a social media storm on Tuesday:

Bernie Ecclestone goes all, Bernie Ecclestone about women drivers
Formula One group CEO, Bernie Ecclestone unsurprisingly caused a bit of controversy after he said on Tuesday, women drivers would not be taken seriously in the sport.

Eccelstone was speaking to WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell at an Advertising Week Europe event when he made comments about female drivers that offended a lot of people.

"I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly, and they wouldn’t be taken seriously," he reportedly said. 

This comment was massively at at odds with supportive ones he made later that went unreported but were later posted as part of the full recording of the interview on the advertisingweek.eu website. 

"Today I would love and I would help to get a lady in a Formula One car." And asked what he would say to a sponsor backing an all woman team he replied: "I'd put another $20 million in to make sure it happened."

After the comment a lot of backlash erupted on social media, and esteemed female driver Susie Wolff defended his comments"

Now a couple of Australian female racers have a few words of their own for Eccelstone. 

Chelsea Angelo, 19 and Leanne Tander, 35 have responded to the comments made by Eccelstone. Both women argue that females could absolutely race against men and could race in the Formula 1, but both agree that women aren't taken seriously enough in the sport.

Leanne Tander

Tander, who is from Sydney, has been competing for over 20 years in a variety of motor sports and says that even women like Susie Wolff - who is an extremely talented driver - have comments made about them like, "she's only there because she looks good."

“It is harder to be taken seriously, to establish yourself, you have to do twice as much to prove that you are serious. The automatic response from people when you’re young and racing is, you’re just doing it for fun or you're just doing it because Dad didn’t have any sons of his own," she says.

Tander says that men from Eccelstone's era may think of women as a weaker gender, but she says more and more women are proving that they're physically capable of pretty much anything.

“Look, yeah it’s going to take a lot of work. A lot of hard work, it’s an endurance strength, but it is attainable,” she says of women being able to race in the F1 and against men.

“Racing is a learned thing. It’s not something boys are born with and girls aren’t.”

The problem that Tander sees for women in racing is that there aren't enough women in the sport to change the stigma. She says every new woman who joins the sport has to prove themselves again.

"It’s still not the norm to see women in the sport and I think that’s part of the problem," she says.

Piers Morgan spoke at the Advertising Week Europe event, dissing Ecclestone's comments and defending female drivers.

The TV host said that driving was more about skill rather than physical fitness. He said that while it was an interesting debate, he found it hard to believe that women couldn't be as fast as men in the F1. He put it back to the interviewer, asking why couldn't they be?

Tander says they could be, “I think it does take a lot of hard work for women to be as equally strong and fit as men but it’s not an impossible level that they have to reach.”

Chelsea Angelo

Angelo, who is from Melbourne, agrees with Tander and says that women have to prove a lot more than men that they're here to race and to get results.

Both Angelo and Tander believe that women are good enough to race in the F1. They completely disagree with Eccelstone's comment about women not being capable of racing at that level, or against men.

"Women in motorsport do have the physical power to race - whether it's in Formula 1 or V8 Supercars. Yes it is tough for us women to be as strong as the men due to having less muscle but there's no excuse for us women to not train that extra bit harder and longer in the gym. If you want to race, you won't give up," Angelo says.