Claire Williams: “We’ll keep fighting until we get there”

Growing up, Claire Williams – deputy team principal of Williams Racing Formula 1 team –  spent her weekends knocking the pens from the stationery cupboard at the Williams factory, her father’s place of work. Her and her brother would swing from the chains suspended from the ceilings in the race bays, creating a zip wire from one end to the other. Little did she realise that she would be running the very same team a couple of decades later…

“My dad was very clear that nepotism wasn’t a word in his vocabulary,” Claire says, thinking back to her childhood. “I had no thoughts about even coming into Williams or Formula 1. It was very much my dad’s world and so my parents made that very clear to their children. It wasn’t on my radar that I would end up having a career in motorsport.”

Claire grew up in a world that was heavily orientated around Formula 1, with her father, Sir Frank Williams, being the owner of one of the most successful F1 teams in history. Subsequently, she grew up around the driver, although was still starstruck by Ayrton Senna.

“When I was in my teens, dad decided that I could choose one race a year to go to by myself with him, which was such a treat,” she says. “I chose Hungary and I’d gone into my dad’s room in the hotel one night to say goodnight to him. I was in my pajamas and Ayrton Senna was standing in the room.

“First off, I was horrified because I had a major crush on him. Secondly, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I rather embarrassedly said goodnight to my dad and scuttled off out. I’ve had a number of experiences fairly similar to that and I am very lucky to have grown up in the world that I have grown up in.”

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Claire and her father, Sir Frank Williams. Credit: RaceFans.net

After studying politics at university, Claire was stuck with what to do. A meeting with the CEO of Silverstone Circuit proved successful and Claire secured a job as a junior press officer. After a period there, she joined the Williams team where she has remained ever since. After managing the communications department, she has now been the deputy team principal since 2013.

In that time, the team has had its ups and downs and Claire isn’t afraid to talk about the situation that they’re in at that moment. She isn’t proud of it – that is evident – but she is optimistic that they will recover.

“I think people feel a state of shock as to what has happened and how and why it’s happened,” she says. “But, there is still a really strong fighting spirit within this team. We’re very lucky in that we’ve got some very clever and hard working individuals here, that all have that Williams spirit – continuing to fight and push, and not letting what is happening on the race track stop their hard work or downplay their determination to turn things around.

“We have to remember that yes we’re in a pretty terrible position right now, but last year we were fifth, the year before that fifth and before that we came third two years in a row. Sports teams go through troughs. If we allow ourselves the pity party of feeling sorry for ourselves, then we aren’t going to get out of this. We have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and have an absolute focus and determination to resolve the situation that we’re in at the moment.”

Regardless of the results this season, Claire is adamant that the highs make all of the lows worthwhile. In 2014, the team had some of its best success in recent years, and finished third in the constructor’s standings.

“We did an enormous amount of work in 2013 when the team was in really bad shape to turn things around and we left no stone unturned to do it,” Claire says. “And that was my first year in that role, and for whatever reason, it all miraculously came to us. We were going to the podium regularly and celebrating, seeing Valtteri and Felipe up there and that was fantastic. We ended the season on the double points scoring race in Abu Dhabi, where we were still fighting with Ferrari for that third.”

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Claire signing autographs for fans

Claire was one of the team principals who voted in favour of the double points scoring system  at the last race of the season, a decision that fills her with mixed emotions.

“When I got on the plane, and for weeks before, I was like why on earth did I vote for that now that we’re in the situation?” she says. “If we weren’t in that situation, we would have taken P3 at the race prior to that one.”

“I remember the nerves, I remember feeling sick that we could lose this – P3 is a massive achievement from P9. It was a really big deal for us and we did it. It will only be usurped by a championship win, a race win as well, but that seems very far off these days. I try and keep that in my memory, so that it reminds me how success feels and why you need to keep working towards it.”

While the team aren’t where they’d like to be out on track, they are working hard to ensure that they are supporting females in motorsport.

“When I first started 16 years ago at Williams, there was only literally a handful of us,” Claire says. “Even in the jobs that are traditionally thought of as jobs for girls, a lot of blokes were doing them. Now, we have a hundred or so of our staff, which is a seventh of our team, as female. That’s a significant turn around in what’s been a very short period of time.”

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Credit: Motorsport.com

Williams run a number of successful apprenticeship schemes and placement opportunities, and last year, the number of female applications outweighed the number of male applicants they received.

“The only way to keep achieving that, and to keep inspiring those people, is to have role models across all different disciplines within Formula 1 and our team,” Claire says. “We have ambassadors within Williams that go out and talk to girls in school, secondary schools and in tertiary education to try and encourage them to take the STEM subjects required to go to university and then to take the engineering degrees. We take our role in that really seriously.

One of the initiatives that I’m involved in is Dare To Be Different, which is a fantastic campaign that Susie Wolff set up with the MSA. it specifically targets females and tries to inspire them to think about motorsport as a career. That’s important. We are seeing a lot of success from the initiative. A lot of girls are now seeing and thinking seriously about motorsport as a career.”

In 2014, D2BD founder Susie Wolff made history for Williams when she became the first female to participate in a grand prix weekend since 1992. This was a moment that filled Claire with pride, despite the criticism that the team had received for their decision.

“I actually shed a tear which is very unlike me; I felt really proud,” Claire says. “We had people suggesting that it was a marketing ploy. I’m very clear on that: motorsport is dangerous and we’ve lost drivers in this team. We take our driver safety extremely seriously. I would not put a driver in our race car that I didn’t feel was competent at driving it and driving it safely. That would just be lunacy.

“Women are risk averse, so I am the last person to make that kind of decision. I was enormously proud and I think that she did a fantastic job. Susie is a real trailblazer for women in motorsport.”

If the opportunity came up again for a woman to fill a Williams race seat, Claire “wouldn’t think twice if the woman had the track record”.

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Susie Wolff, Felipe Massa and Claire Williams. Credit Keith Barnes Photography

Ending on the future for the team, Claire knows the hard work required to get Williams back to their heydays.

“You don’t get to 10th in the championship without having a lot of issues to address,” she says. “We are slowly and methodically working through them to make sure that we repair the weaknesses that we have in the team. We still have huge ambitions within Formula 1. We have to get the team back to where we need it to be and where we want it to be – that’s winning races again and that’s not the work of a moment. We are all realistic.

“Formula 1 is a very different environment to even two to three years ago. It is very difficult to win these days. To get us back to that level underneath the top teams of Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes, that’s our ambition for the next two to three years. It’s going to be a hard piece of work to get us there. But we will, because we won’t give up. We’ll keep fighting until we do.”

Alexandra Legouix: “it’s just a case of knocking on millions of doors, one will open with hard work”

Many people grow up dreaming of working in motorsport, hoping one day to make it to whatever their desired series may be. However, for some, they fall into the sport through other career paths. Alexandra Legouix never intended to work in racing, but now wouldn’t change it for the world. She herself says working in the sport is “pure fluke” so I spoke to her about her career and her interests outside of motorsport.

Having grown up watching F1 and preferring to play with cars over barbies, Alexandra always had an interest in the sport, but never to the extent that she would class herself as a fan. “I also grew up riding horses and competed to a professional level in show jumping and I was a performer. Until I got to 18 and became more interested in boys and going out, I just assumed I would always be a professional horse rider or West end star,” she said. Although now motorsport is a passion of Legouix’s, as she said there was no intention to work in the industry, with her saying: “I never imagined a career in it or an involvement that extended further than a Sunday snoozy F1 watch, so it is fairly random to be so heavily involved now.”

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credit: @Legouix

However, her first presenting role came in an industry that is very different to her role now. “I had a phone call from Liz Fuller who owned the Miss Great Britain franchise. She had called and asked me to enter the pageant in the past but I had declined as that had never been my cup of tea,” Alexandra said. Though this wasn’t the nature of the call with Fuller actually offering her the opportunity to host the final of Miss Great Britain to be broadcast on TV. She accepted, despite having no presenting experience and so her career started. A year later, McLaren’s technology centre was looking for a presenter for their tours and Q&A sessions. “I auditioned and got the job,” she said. There was a lot of learning for her to do, which prepared her for future roles, as she had to learn everything from the carbon fibre process, to gear boxes and wind tunnels. “The people I was presenting to were mostly stereotypical motorsport chauvinist types who hated the fact I was a woman educating them and so I was grilled on a daily basis,” Legouix explained, meaning she had to know incredible amounts of detail, in order to prove to people she could do the job.

Whilst working at McLaren, she produced and wrote a documentary showing what it takes to be a professional driver. After speaking to people such as Rob Collard, Andy Neate and Tom Onslow Cole for the project, she had learnt a lot about the World Touring Car Championship, which came in very handy for her next role. At the end of 2013, following stints in several UK club championships and World RallyCross, she approached the Head of Production for WTCC, who were conveniently looking for a presenter. She jumped at the chance and began presenting the championship.

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credit: LAT IMAGES

She first watched F1 as a child, and has worked in the series a little, though her other commitments limit this. She has previously presented the driver’s parade, as well as coverage on the big screens around the circuit. “Calendar clashes cut out my F1 fun this year sadly but I’ll go and watch a couple of races. It’s a fascinating paddock and an entirely different world to WTCR. I enjoy it when I work in it so if the opportunity arose then I wouldn’t turn it down,” Alexandra described. But she has managed to do a few related events in the recent years, having worked with both Formula Student and F1 eSports. “Formula student is fantastic, I love working on that. The talent of the students is insane and the machines they create are so impressive. It’s great to meet the engineers of the future. F1 eSports was another great experience. Again, the talent of the racers is remarkable and the whole concept is good,” she told me.

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credit: @Legouix

This year, she will be working in the World Rally Championship for the first time and is already enjoying it, with her saying: “It’s a whole different world in every way to anything I’ve done. The job itself is very different as I act as anchor of the live show so I’m not running around the Service Park interviewing, but the team and my co-hosts are a lot of fun. I don’t claim to be an expert in rally at all so I had an awful lot to learn and am still learning each time. I love it so far and cannot quite get my head around the courage of the competitors.”

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Although motorsport hugely dominates her time, Alexandra also has several areas she enjoys working in outside of sport. Her original aim was to work in the West-End, and music is still a massive part of her life. “I probably sang before I could speak and danced before I could walk,” Legouix explained. “Music is one of my biggest passions and it dramatically affects my mood. I perform with my band ‘Al and the Sunflowers’ and only wish I had a little more time to do gigs these days.” She also presents festivals and shows of varying genres allowing her to get close to fans and what they are passionate about. “You can’t beat the energy and atmosphere of a music festival so that is always great to be part of,” she said, “The boat shows are always great fun. The pet shows are the cutest things ever, and I enjoy motor festivals because you get to meet so many passionate petrol heads.”

Alexandra Legouix’s route to working in motorsport was by no means conventional. Intending to work in the entertainment industry, her first role came by chance with an events company, and she’s been hooked on the sport ever since. Although many people use social media as a pathway, for Legouix this doesn’t hold a huge appeal. “I feel that the vlogger world is saturated now so it’s hard to make an impact and very tough to make a living that way. I think from a TV presenter angle you still cannot beat a more conventional route of contacting the production company involved in whichever championship and sending in a showreel proving your worth, passion and knowledge. Then it’s just a case of knocking on millions of doors, one will open with hard work,” she explained. Her interests outside of motorsport have been pushed aside, but this year she is determined to sing more, write more and race more.

(heading photo credit: @worldxseries)

Why we adore motorsport and what it means to us

Motorsport is adored by millions, that’s a given. But, just why do we love it? Well, to do something a little different, Females in Motorsport asked the Twitter community to write a couple of paragraphs on why the sport means so much to them. The results are pretty uplifting to read!

Josie

I’ve loved motorsports since I the age of six, when I was able to understand the sheer brilliance of Michael Schumacher – him as a driver and his determination to win.

My first racing memory was asking my dad why he liked it because ‘the red man always wins’ but the German/Italian national anthems and seeing the passion from Ferrari after a win made me carry on watching (even if I did fall asleep sometimes).

Race weekends became ‘daddy/daughter time’. Racing brought me closer to my dad as it was a passion we both shared even if we ended up supporting different teams/drivers and I didn’t follow the aerodynamics career pathway into F1 he was hoping I’d take (sorry dad).

Racing hasn’t just brought me closer to my family but it’s also introduced me to many new friends and new opportunities. The confidence I’ve gained from meeting likeminded people, such as the Dare To Be Different community, has allowed me to start blogging about both MotoGP and F1 and to consider pursuing my dream career as a reporter in the motorsports world.

At six years old, I never thought racing would mean so much to me or would give so much back to me.

Marlon

I remember and, have being told that when I was a little girl, I was always watching races together with my father. When I got older I got more and more interested in the sport and started to learn more myself.

First it was mostly Formula 1 and DTM, as my father used to go to the DTM races in Zandvoort every year. In 2012 he took me with him, and it was amazing! This was my first live race.

I started watching junior series as well, which I really like. It’s s different to Formula 1. One thing I really like about it, is to follow the younger drivers and see them grow over the years.

I love the tension you get before the lights go out on Sunday. I still get goosebumps every time. This sport is so much more than just fast cars. It’s everything around it. It means the world to me.

Also, because I am sick, this is the one thing I can still do. It is a relief and joy for me. My goal now is to be working in this world, and I am determined to reach that.

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Oprah 

Motorsport is my life. And when I say it’s my life, that means something I can not live without. It’s a passion, It is a deep-rooted engagement between fans, teams, and drivers.

What made me love Motorsport has so many reasons. It motivates me to excel and makes me so special as an Arabian girl. I love It because it brings people from around the world to watch it together no matter of their backgrounds and beliefs. It puts me in a thrill and spellbinds my soul.

On the other hand, the sound of the engines is a heavenly sound to my ears. 2010, was my first ever circuit to attend was the Malaysian Sepang International Circuit I still remember the goosebumps all around my body and the joyful tears when I heard the engine sounds roaring from the parking area Today, as a motorsport editor under the wing of Motorlat, I met and interviewed a number of champions from Formula One, World Rally, Rallycross, IndyCar, and NASCAR at the ROC event, where they compete against each other.

Motorsport is my beautiful culture.

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Maddie

To discover what motorsport means to me we need to rewind about eight years.

I used to be a very sporty person but then I was diagnosed with acute plantar fasciitis. Long story short it messed me up for about a year and I was taken off every sport team.

Six months later I was in car crash, I had severe whiplash which would result in almost fortnightly hospital trips for three years.

It was towards the end of those three years that I discovered Formula 1.

It may sound silly to some but I truly believe that F1 and my passion that came from it played a big part in pulling me out of a dark pace.

In fact, without that passion I wouldn’t be where I am now.

I love motorsport because it has opened up a world to me that I never thought I’d be in. I love the excitement, the strategy and how it can evolve with the times.

Thanks to motorsport I have met some truly incredible and inspiring people, from a double amputee racing driver to the first female to drive in an F1 weekend for 22 years.

As I finish my final year of my Sports Journalism degree I cannot wait to see where it takes me next.

Helen

Some people think that F1 is boring, but not me. Sure the racing may be a bit dull sometimes, but behind the scenes there is still so much going on!

I love F1 because of the teamwork that goes into it. In some cases more than 1,000 people in a team with one goal of winning the Constructor’s World Championship and maybe along the way a Driver’s Championship as well.

When you look behind the racing, at the science, that’s when things really grip hold of me. The cutting edge technology and materials they use and what the engineers can do with them is mind blowing! And the fact that these complex pieces of machinery function, for the most part perfectly, really is just amazing.

Then there are the drivers and their ability to push these machines. I recall an interview with Eddie Irvine who was talking about how Michael Schumacher could leave the pits at Spa and drive through Eau Rouge flat out on a full tank of fuel. Eddie admitted that this is something he could not do. Some drivers have this ability to push harder than others and that’s why they are the World Champions.

Lastly an F1 weekend is not just about the on track action, but also what is going on off the track as well and I love this glamour and intrigue almost as much as what’s happening on the track.

Emma Walsh: “I just love being behind the wheel”

The way the media works has changed dramatically over the past few years with the rise of social media stars and YouTubers. One of those who dedicates a lot of her time to sharing her passion for motorsport online, is Emma Walsh. Having grown up in South Africa, toured with ‘Grease: The Musical’ and starred in Made in Chelsea, car vlogging was not the expected next step for her, so I spoke to Emma about her love for the sport and how working on Formula E radio came about.

As mentioned, Emma spent her childhood in South Africa though says there was “not much” of a motorsport culture during her youth. This has since change though with Walsh saying: “it’s come a long way since I was a child…”

This doesn’t mean that Emma herself didn’t have an interest though. “I used to watch Formula One with my Dad when I was a kid, and I used to make him take me down to a go-kart track which was just down the road from my house,” she explained. However, her brothers and sisters were not so interested meaning she spent a lot of quality time with her father through their mutual love of cars and racing.

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In 2011, Emma moved to London after touring with the musical Grease. Wanting to continue working in the West-End, she chose to relocate in order to audition for more musicals. “I had a British passport so I ended up staying here,” Walsh told me. Performing is still something she loves, but the long hours and performing 8 exhausting shows a week can really take its toll.

“I miss it! But I don’t know if I will get back into it full-time unless something amazing comes up. But I definitely do miss it, though I’m not into it as much as I used to be,” she explained. Having spent 12 years in the industry, it was difficult to stop, but had Emma not moved for her theatre role, her current career may not have progressed as it has now.

So, when did Walsh decide to pursue her motorsport career? “Probably after Made in Chelsea,” she said. “I had talked about getting my racing licence, it had always been on my bucket list, and after talking with a friend, he convinced me to do my own (YouTube) channel.” Made in Chelsea is the show that really propelled Emma into the spotlight, though was never something that she was looking to do. It happened through her friendship with MIC stars Binky Felstead and Ollie Locke, who she was going away with for the weekend. The producers came along, and after seeing her do a Ferrari track day, approached her to be on the show.

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However, after having no control over the edit and not always being happy with how she was portrayed, Emma decided to start her own YouTube channel. “It was just documenting my life at the time,” Walsh explained. “I was doing some random stuff, adrenaline and car stuff and hanging around with some of the other car YouTubers and they we’re always making videos, so I thought ‘why not?’.”

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“When I came off MIC, which is quite a glamorous show, on purpose I stripped everything back. I wanted to start subtly to focus on the cars and my love for them. It’s a very male-dominated industry and being a girl, you get a lot of guys turning their noses up at you. I keep reminding people it’s a lifestyle channel with cars featuring quite heavily. I’m not a car journalist, but my passion is there and I am learning as I go. I just love being behind the wheel,” she said.

Starting her channel has changed her life. She has been able to do and experience things that she would never have been able to otherwise. The standout moment for her so far involved a certain 4-time F1 World Champion. “With Ferrari I’ve had a great run because of social media. I’ve managed to create quite a nice friendship with them. Interviewing Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone was great so probably skipping in the garage with him is a standout moment,” Emma told me, adding: “another highlight was working with BMW South Africa when I hosted the M Festival there.” None of this would’ve happen if she hadn’t been encouraged to start her YouTube channel.

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Having got her racing license shortly after leaving the E4 show, Emma Walsh is keen to do more driving, though being a full-time driver is not something she would like to do. “When I think about it outside of the car I’m terrified,” she said, a feeling reiterated by many, though she also says: “the minute I get in the car I feel comfortable and I really enjoy driving. I’m always up for track days, I definitely have a lot to learn, but hopefully this year I will get to do a race with one of the championships, just to see what it’s like.”

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Her online presence has also allowed the South African to venture more into another form of media. “I’ve done a fair bit of radio in the past, not in terms of having my own show, but I really do enjoy it,” Emma explained to me. “I prefer to do TV work, but the opportunity came up and it was a great way to meet people and better my interviewing skills.” Through her role on talkSport Radio, she has also been recruited for a new initiative in one of the newest series of motorsport: Formula E Radio.

“A friend of mine, who’s a car commentator put me up for the job. It’s definitely a different race, I grew up watching F1, so this is new for me. It is a very exciting race to watch and there’s always something going on. I have a few friends that drive in the Championship which keeps it interesting, but I’m really enjoying getting into Formula E,” Walsh said. Despite her love of radio, her ultimate aim is to move from the airwaves to our TV screens. “Cars and TV are a good mix for me,” she said when talking about her desire to be a presenter on F1 coverage on TV. “As long as I know my stuff, I think I’d be OK.”

Having worked in several mediums of media, Emma has the ability to deal with any situation that may arise. Her work on radio means she is able to communicate quickly with the audience, and work on YouTube means she is able to create short and entertaining videos. Both important parts of working to a timescale for F1 coverage, we could see Emma Walsh on our screens sometime soon.

(all photo credits: Emma Walsh)

Rosanna Tennant: “Working in F1 doesn’t feel like a job”

Meet Rosanna Tennant, someone who knows what it’s like to work your way towards the top of the motorsport media career ladder from the very bottom! After a successful spell with the YouTube channel Pole Position, her role as a presenter quickly developed. Now, as a presenter and host for Formula 1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, she is becoming an increasingly familiar face.

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Rosanna presenting with Johnny Herbert, accompanied by Nico Rosberg. Credit: LAT Images

Rosanna works for a sports marketing agency based in London called Influence Sports & Media, and it is through them that she works with the Mercedes F1 team.

“My role involves working with the Team to come up with ideas in and around what they do at the factory and races,” she says. “That then crosses over to filming with the Drivers and the Team’s Technical Partners, as well as Senior Management and Team members from different departments. Sometimes I present those pieces and sometimes I take more of a producer role. Then when they want a live event hosted, I’ll host that as well.”

Therefore, Rosanna understands working with brands and what they tend to look for when it comes to generating content.

“It’s making fun and engaging content, but never overstepping the mark, especially when you are working with global brands with rigorous brand guidelines. It’s all about attention to detail; things must always be well thought through.”

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In addition, Rosanna also works for F1 in Schools and 4×4 in Schools, hosting events for them. Perhaps, though, she is best known for working directly for Formula 1, helping them with the content they produce.

“I present their social media and digital clips, and am also part of the team that creates content in the Fan Village over race weekends,” she says. “I’ll host things like the Formula 1 Fan Forum either on my own or with a co-host such as Johnny Herbert. It’s brilliant being able to engage with the fans and the Drivers – the Drivers are always in such good spirits because the fans are there. I also do interviews in the Formula 1 Paddock over the course of the weekend.”

These events are non-stop and require you to think on your feet, especially when hosting on stage for hours at a time without a script! All this is a good learning experience, according to Rosanna.

“It’s definitely been a great learning experience,” she says. “It’s made me better at live presenting, as you just have to go with it. The adrenaline is always quite high as you never know what might be coming next. Sometimes there’s a delay and you just have to fill a gap for ten minutes chatting to the camera or the audience!”

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Rosanna with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton

Unsurprisingly, this all equates to one busy schedule, but Rosanna sees that as a positive thing.

“With Formula 1 you work weekends so you’re away from home a lot, but I’ve always wanted to do this kind of thing so I appreciate every single moment. For me, being busy is great and I’m lucky to be able to say I absolutely love my job. I never feel like I’m dragging my feet to go to the office. The moment I feel like that I need to change career path!”

One of Rosanna’s iconic moments came when she interviewed Lewis Hamilton as he took her for a hot lap around Sepang International Circuit. The video was circulated all over social media and has had well over six million views.

“We did an interview, if you can call it that!” Rosanna explains. “It’s great to have the insight of what goes on within the Team. I’ve learned lots and it’s helped me develop a strong working relationship with Lewis, Valtteri and Toto.”

In 2016 Rosanna hosted Mercedes’ Paddock hospitality at Formula 1 races, which kept her in the sport’s environment on a regular basis.

“I was interviewing the Team’s drivers on almost every race weekend,” she said. “It helped me stay close to the sport and the people within the sport. That obviously helps you keep abreast of new opportunities, you don’t necessarily hear about them first, but you do hear about them.”

Despite Rosanna working for one of the most influential names in sport, there are still restrictions with the content that can be published. With this, an eye for creativity is formed, which is why Rosanna is so successful at what she does.

“When creating YouTube content related to F1 you really have to think outside of the box as you don’t have access to much footage due to copyright laws,” she says. “At Pole Position, we were very limited with what we could show but we soon became pretty savvy making creative videos without track footage.”

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Despite the challenges faced at Pole Position, Rosanna feels she learnt the tricks of the trade during her early days there.

“I was 25 when I started hosting Pole Position,” she said. “I knew nothing about motor sport and had to really summon up my self-confidence in the beginning. It was a steep learning curve. Some of the YouTube content at the time was quite aggressive and I made the decision not to follow that trend. For some YouTubers that works for their brand but that style wasn’t and still isn’t right for me. I never knew where Pole Position would take me; you never want to look back and think ‘I wish I hadn’t said that!’”

One to watch: Emily Linscott

At Females in Motorsport we love discovering young girls that are taking their first steps in motorsport. So, when a young lady called Emily Linscott starting following us on Twitter, we quickly realised how much of a star she already was.

Meet Miss Linscott. She’s 15 and already formidably fast, not to mention a multi-award winning racer. Although she only started karting in 2016, by August last year she was making her racing car debut at Rockingham. You can see why she’s had lots of people excited!

“I only starting liking motorsport once I’d started karting,” she told us. “My parents would watch MotoGP and sometimes an F1 race, but then a man called Dan Lee of Race Driver Developments came along and said if I wanted to go further in motorsport, not to go to SuperOne karts but to go straight into cars.

“We went to Snetterton in 2016 to watch and I loved them, from then on I’ve wanted to race them, and I’ve been planning my career ever since.”

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Credit: Jakcob Ebrey

But how did this new-found love of speed begin? A day out at a karting track in Essex was in fact what kickstarted Emily’s passion.

“My dad took me to Lakeside Karting one Sunday with a school friend and I enjoyed it,” she said. “I joined a development club after that and after just two weeks they said I should move up to their karting race academy. I did very well there and once again, Dan Lee (Brentwood Karting) said I should go open wheel to better my skills. Things seemed to be working out pretty good!”

Since that first adventure, Emily has been snapped up by Arden (their founder none other can Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner) and their Young Racing Driver’s Academy, something she is incredibly proud to be a part of.

“I was totally shocked and surprised to learn they’d scouted me and asked me to join the
YRDA after such a short space of time,” Emily said. “We were asked to the Arden HQ to see their factory. When we got there, it was amazing. There’s three formula cars in their reception, one of them being a Red Bull F1 car! It’s so cool to see them up close, I’d never even seen one in the flesh before. They’re huge!

“Then both Jamie Horner and Steve Hutchinson came out to meet us. They shook our hands and then just spoke directly to me about what I’d done and how I felt about winning my first championship in my first year and things like that. They seemed to know a lot about me. We then got a tour of the building and the cars in the workshop, which was really cool. They then showed me where the drivers practice on their F4 simulators and offered me a go.”

Naturally, Emily was apprehensive but took this in her stride and the nerves played to her advantage.

“I was a bit nervous, as I’d never seen one before, I’d never even driven a computer racing game, so it was all a bit strange,” she said. “I got some awesome coaching and then they left me alone to try what I’d learnt, which went pretty well too. At the end of the session we talked about how fast I’d picked it up the that my lap times showed good speed and handling of the car…then they offered me a position in the YRDA as one of only 15 drivers worldwide!

“I’m just starting my second year with them and the training, the simulator work and the
mental approach is really starting to show through. I’ll be testing in an F4 car a few times this year during the season, so we’ll see where that takes me.”

Despite having achieved an awful lot in such a short space of time, Emily is keeping her options for the future open. She said: “Initially I was aiming for GT or LMP in the WEC, but I’ll wait and see what the F4 tests show. I’m expecting them to be incredible, so who knows, I may go down the Formula route after the Ginetta’s…”

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Emily at Brands Hatch with her Mum Samantha. Credit: Lee Fraser/Mat Acton

It was clear to see Emily’s passion from talking to her. Racing is now a bit part of her life and one of her biggest sources of enjoyment.

“It’s the excitement and thrill of pitting myself against others at speed, the added element of danger and the atmosphere of the paddocks,” she said. “Most of the drivers treat each other with a huge amount of respect off the track, even to the point of making good friends with them too, but when you get out on track, the friendship ends for that period of time and you’re all totally focused on the racing, not the people.”

Emily has already shown maturity in the racing decisions she’s already made. On top of this, she knows that being a girl in the industry still makes you a minority. Yet, she is keen to show that girls can dare to be different too and rightly doesn’t let her gender hold her back.

“If you want to do it, then just get out there and do it!” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t; you can. If I can do it, then anyone can. I was extremely shy but loved the idea of going fast.

“That’s it really, you have to show others just how much it means to you, in whatever way you can. It doesn’t mean you have to say it, you just have to work hard to prove it means something. It’s crazy expensive and my family aren’t what you’d call rolling in it, so my parents won’t just waste money on a whim, I’ve had to prove it really means something.”

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Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Why Emily is one to watch:

  • Emily won the BMKC Junior Championship in November 2016 having competed in just 6 of the seven rounds, finishing on the podium in every race.
  • Awarded the Buckmore Park Star Pupil 2016 – the first female to win the title in its 16-year history.
  • The Jack Petchey Foundation proudly awarded Emily for ‘Inspiration to young adults’ through her work and commitment to karting.
  • Highly Commended for Karting Magazine’s ‘Rookie of the Year 2016’ award.
  • Competed in her first Ginetta Junior Car Race in August 2017.
  • Finished 5th place rookie at Silverstone in the Ginetta Junior Championship Race September 2017.
  • Highly Commended for Active Essex ‘Young Sports Personality of the Year 2017’ Award from tens of thousands of young athletes.
  • Named as one of the ten finalists of the Downforce UK ‘Henry Surtees Teen Racer of the Year 2017 – awaiting the result any day now.
  • Recognised by ExquisiteConceirge.co.uk who have tipped her as an Essex Sports Start To Watch in 2018 .

 

Why Females in Motorsport

We – Helena Hicks and Georgia Allen – thought that it would be nice to share some thoughts on what inspired us to create this site, and why we are so passionate about motorsport.

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Last year I got to walk the track in Monaco!

I grew up in a family that watched it; Sundays meant that F1 was on in the house and my dad would spend some rare time sitting down to watch it. I quickly fell in love with it and that’s why I am here today.

But, like with many things in this word, there is a question of equality. While there are more females in the paddocks and behind the scenes than ever before, there is still this divide.

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As a fan, this is my favourite moment: getting to meet Daniel Ricciardo back in 2015. Things have changed a bit!

We want to share with you the talents and the fans of our beloved motorsport. We would love to inspire you, help you and show you that anything is possible!

I witnessed Dare To Be Different be launched at the 2016 Autosport International show. From then on, I have been a member and have heard and met many admirable people. In fact without Susie Wolff and D2BD, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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One of my idols: Susie Wolff

In motorsport I have many idols: Sophie Ogg (Head of Communications at Williams), Lee McKenzie and Jennie Gow to name just a few.

As an aspiring PR/Events person myself, I want to create something unique with this site. Hopefully, we can.

www.twitter.com/_helenahicks 

Now over to Georgia…

Firstly, I should explain who I am. My name is Georgia and, along with Helena, I am one of the creators of this site. I am an aspiring Formula One journalist and broadcaster hoping to one day make it to Formula One.

As a ‘Dare to be Different’ community member, I am passionate about encouraging women in motorsport and showing that we are just as capable as anyone else. Another thing that is important to me, is raising the profile of the sport to younger people and expanding the fan base to people like myself.

As a young woman, I feel I bring a different perspective to those currently working in the industry and want to represent the new ideas and opinions of the younger generation.

I’m really looking forward to getting started and hopefully interviewing as many interesting women as possible. However, for me this is not just about females, I also hope to speak to young people involved in motorsport.

We are seeing drivers enter F1 at younger ages and so I hope to meet some of the young racers hoping to be the next big thing. I particularly love interviewing as I enjoy coming away having found out something I didn’t know before. But this doesn’t mean it’s all about racing, as Females in Motorsport aims to also give an insight into the lives and personalities of the real people who work in one of the world’s most popular sports.

I admire many people when it comes to motorsport, mainly because they do the jobs that I would love to do in the future. Lee Mckenzie and Jennie Gow are two strong women who have had lasting careers in F1 TV coverage, which I also hope to have. There are also those who have been pioneers such as Monisha Kaltenborn and Susie Wolff.

When it comes to F1, I’m a big supporter of British drivers as well as those with great personalities. Unsurprisingl,y from what I’ve already said, I love seeing the younger drivers succeed as well as our older, more experienced favourites!