Being a woman and an F1 fan has definitely been interesting over the past couple of weeks, so let’s talk about it.
I thought I’d do a more relaxed journal-style post discussing the recent drama that has been pushed to the forefront of the sport, whether it was a controversial podcast or problematic TikTok posts there has been plenty going on within the F1 community, specially impacting the female audience.
Following the recent Screaming Meals x Pitstop podcast drama, if there’s one way to sum this up I would say typical. Although an apology has been given, in my opinion it’s very much a case of being sorry you got caught over being genuinely apologetic for the comments that were made. This whole debacle was a small example of a much wider problem within Formula 1 and it’s a problem that I don’t think any woman within the sport would be surprised to see. It’s evident that the sport is taking strides to become more inclusive of their expanding audience and more opportunities have been granted to women whether that’s seeing more women presenting F1, the F1 academy being introduced, or teams working with more women within he content creation space etc. but we’re clearly not where we want to be yet. Now, I won’t beat a dead horse and go over every specific detail of the Screaming Meals podcast, that had many in uproar, but the most important point of discussion that arose from the whole debacle was addressing the clear double standard that exists between men and women within the sport. As many women who work within the F1 space have highlighted, the mere idea of jumping onto social media and starting a podcast in which you openly admit that you know nothing about the sport would have already signalled the beginning of the end. There is no way that a woman would have been provided the grace to expand their knowledge on the sport in such an open setting let alone build up a significant fanbase who respect their opinion whilst they continue to boast about their ignorance of the sport.
But let’s look at this from a more general perspective, as to be a fan of this sport and treated the same as you’re male counterparts you can’t just rely on simply having the same knowledge/experience, instead it feels as though you have to constantly jump through hoops to justify why you like the sport and prove that you are a ‘true’ fan by living up to some imaginary standard that has been set by those who like to gatekeep the sport. The knock-on effect of this means that it makes it significantly more difficult for women to get into spaces in which they will be provided with the same opportunities that we have seen granted to others. The issue doesn’t end there, as once a woman is able to climb the ladder in F1 it’s usually met with some sort of push back in the form of questioning her right to be where she is, how well she knows the sport and if she can tell you every single fact about everything within the sport otherwise she doesn’t know what she’s talking about or blatant sexism. We have seen this on multiple occasions throughout the years and most recently with the fan behaviour at certain races, this is a cause for concern as not only is the online abuse bad enough, the potential safety of female fans a being put into question at race weekends should be enough to make anyone concerned about the potential direction that the sport could be heading in.
Just as the podcast drama began to simmer down another controversy popped up because why not? For those that have been unfortunate enough to see those Ferrari tiktok videos , you’ll know exactly what inspired this next train of though but even if you haven’t seen the videos the following point still stands on its own and that is, the actions of one affecting the many. Given that female fans have a substantially harder time being legitimised in F1, when one person does something that supports people’s ideas of female fans only being interested in the sport for the drivers or the drama of DTS, these notions are suddenly applied to everyone without any rational reasoning. As a fan, a lot of the time certain conversation just feel pointless as no matter what you say or do nothing will change and you will always be stuck in the box that people place you in.
Despite my rant above, it’s not all been bad. The fanbase has managed to pull together to support those who they think are deserving of their platforms within F1 and withdraw support for those who they don’t think deserve their platform. This has been great to see as when certain content alienates and delegitimises an entire section of the fanbase it’s good to know that the overall F1 community share the same universal opinion and are willing to take action against those who’ve caused the damage.