Sebastian Vettel thinks F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali was being insensitive when he played down the chances of a female driver in Formula 1 in the near future.
Domenicali spoke to international journalists ahead of the Belgian GP this week and was asked if he thought a woman could be going wheel-to-wheel with F1’s current stars soon.
“Realistically speaking, unless there is something like a meteorite coming to Earth, I don’t see a girl coming into F1 in the next five years,” the former Ferrari boss said.
“That is very unlikely. We believe that to be able to give the chance for girls to be at the same level with the guys, they need to be at the same age when they start to fight on the track,” Domenicali added.
The Italian also said Formula 1 is “working on” initiatives towards that goal, but it didn’t stop a firestorm of social media reaction regarding his remarks.
“I know Stefano,” quadruple world champion Vettel said at Spa-Francorchamps, “and I haven’t read it exactly but it was a very unlucky choice of words.
“Because it’s statements like that that probably all girls and women are confronted with when they grow up and are sharing their dreams sitting at breakfast.
“Then, the father might have just read that statement and makes it clear to her ‘you like other things – why not focus on other things?’
“So it’s important that we don’t say these things because I don’t see a reason why we can’t have a woman on the grid. I think the challenges we are facing, they can be faced by women.
“So I do the opposite. I encourage every girl at the breakfast table to speak up and prove Stefano and all these people wrong. I think this sort of stereotype thinking is slowly disappearing but has to disappear completely,” Vettel said.