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“Courageous” Jessica Hawkins Shuts Danica Patrick’s Sexism to Follow in Susie Wolff’s Footsteps

Published 09/26/2023, 8:45 AM EDT

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The last time a female driver raced in Formula 1 was in 1976. That was almost 50 years ago. The last time a female driver drove a Formula 1 car was in 2018. No, wait. It was last week! No thanks to Danica Patrick, though. The former NASCAR driver—not to mention the most successful woman in American open-wheel racing—should be a role model for women all around. She should be driving F1’s movement toward increasing inclusivity. Instead, she’s doing just the opposite.

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“I think that the nature of the sport is masculine. It’s aggressive. You have to handle the car—not only just the car because that’s skill, but the mindset that it takes to be really good is something that’s not normal in a feminine mind, a female mind,” said Danica Patrick. But if the motorsport industry promises anything, it’s to give people the opportunity to defy the odds. Aston Martin driver ambassador Jessica Hawkins did just that.

Jessica Hawkins has risen above the standards Danica Patrick set


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A few weeks ago, Patrick openly stated that she isn’t interested in seeing women race in F1. For her, it’s more about the excitement of racing action, something she feels won’t be there if half the grid is female drivers following a leader. Watching Max Verstappen dominate right now is really exciting, isn’t it? Patrick’s beliefs seem to be going against everything F1 has been working toward to make the sport more inclusive. Be it the W Series or even the all-female F1 Academy headed by Susie Wolff. Instead of getting bogged down by Patrick’s stance, Hawkins is following in Wolff’s footsteps.

Before Susie Wolff started devoting her time to making women’s path to F1 easier, she was a driver. In 2012, she was named Williams’ development driver. In 2014, the team announced she’d drive the car in two Free Practice sessions—at the British and German GP. When she got into the FW36, she became the first woman in 22 years to participate in a practice session. Now, at the helm of F1 Academy, Wolff is helping drive change for drivers like Hawkins faster than ever.


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Hawkins, 28, participated in her debut F1 test last week in Budapest. As she prepared to step into the AMR21 (Aston Martin’s 2021 car), the team posted a teaser on Twitter (now X), writing, “Courage. Determination. Relentlessness. Jessica Hawkins, an inspiration to follow your path.” After F1 Academy’s introduction this year, Hawkins and Aston have been working together to support the team’s entry into the all-female series in 2024. The test in Budapest—where Hawkins excelled—was a step toward achieving that goal. 

There’s no doubt Aston Martin’s efforts to push the former W Series driver’s development have helped drive inclusivity even further. As Hawkins expressed how driving an F1 car was a dream come true for her, another former W Series driver expressed how the ‘women in F1’ dream couldn’t be in better hands than Susie Wolff’s.

Susie Wolff is a “powerhouse”

Before F1 Academy came into the picture, the W Series was the all-female single-seater racing championship. Following two successful seasons in 2019 and 2021, the 2022 season was cut short because funding fell through. To make for a more sustainable series, Susie Wolff helped introduce the F1 Academy. The series has 5 teams with 3 drivers each, which makes for 15 drivers fighting for the championship this season. Jamie Chadwick, the champion of all three W Series seasons, talked about Wolff’s efforts.


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On the Going Purple Podcast, Chadwick was asked if she thinks F1 Academy can make a difference. She said, “I think Susie [Wolff] being a part of it is going to make a difference because she’s a powerhouse. She’s so well-connected, knows better than anyone. So I’m optimistic in that sense.” Chadwick has every reason to be optimistic, especially after Wolff’s recent step. In July, F1 announced that from 2024, every F1 team will nominate one driver from the Academy, with each team having their livery on one car of their choosing. For Aston Martin, you know who that’s going to be. Jessica Hawkins.


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When do you think F1 will see a female driver on the grid?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan


One take at a time

Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar