Carmen Jorda: Women have a ‘physical issue’ with Formula One

Story highlights

Former F1 development driver says Formula E could be better for women

Carmen Jorda's comments draw criticism from the likes of Jenson Button

Jorda sits on the FIA's Women in Motorsport Commission

CNN  — 

Women’s participation in elite motorsport is under renewed debate after former Formula One development driver Carmen Jorda suggested female drivers struggle with the physical demands of the cars.

The Spaniard – who sits on the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission – suggested female drivers would find it easier in Formula E, the world’s premier all-electric racing series.

After getting behind the wheel of a Formula E car for a demonstration ahead of last weekend’s race in Mexico, Jorda was asked by reporters if the car was indeed easier to drive for women.

“I think so,” she replied.

Jorda continued: “It’s a less physical car than in Formula One because of the downforce and because of the power steering as well. So yes for sure. The challenge that we women have in Formula Two and Formula One is a physical issue and I think in Formula E, we won’t have it.

READ: Electric “HIPERCAR” is a “game changer”

“It’s not for me to decide what’s good for women or not in the sport. But in my experience I can say Formula One – not all the other championships, karting, Formula Three, GT, I think women are capable of good results in all those series – in Formula One and Formula Two there is a barrier that is a physical issue.

“I think there is a big issue for women and that’s why there aren’t any in those championships.”

However, Jorda’s comments drew criticism from the likes of 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who argued on Twitter that she wasn’t helping “proper female drivers” with her comments and cited prominent Nascar driver Danica Patrick as an example.

READ: Abt wins in Mexico

Button’s response drew praise from British IndyCar racer Pippa Mann and Leena Gade – an engineer representative on the Commission – also voiced her disapproval of Jorda’s views.

“You are entitled to your opinions and I respect that,” she tweeted. “But do not use the name of the Commission to justify them when it contradicts the message and work we are doing. Women want to beat and be the best on equal terms. Not by the easiest route.”

Mann was disappointed that Jorda was named to the Commission in the first place, the Spaniard having backed calls for a women-only championship.

CNN has requested an interview with Jorda, we are yet to receive a response.

Italy’s Lella Lombardi was the last woman to participate in an F1 race in 1976, but could Tatiana Calderon line up on the grid sometime soon?

On Tuesday, it was announced the Colombian would be a test driver with Sauber for the coming season.

“Tatiana is a very hard-working person, who has impressed the team with her focus and dedication,” Sauber Team Principal Fred Vasseur was quoted as saying on F1’s official website.

“She has made good progress as a driver, developing both her mental and physical capacities continuously over the past few years.”