Women do not have the “mental aptitude” to compete in Formula One, according to veteran British grand prix great Stirling Moss.
The 83-year-old, widely acclaimed as the greatest driver never to win the Formula One championship, made the controversial comments in an interview with BBC radio for a program on women racers.
“I think they have the strength, but I don’t know if they’ve got the mental aptitude to race hard, wheel-to-wheel,” said Moss, whose late sister Pat was a successful rally driver in the 1950s and 1960s.
“We’ve got some very strong and robust ladies, but, when your life is at risk, I think the strain of that in a competitive situation will tell when you’re trying to win,” Moss said.
“The mental stress I think would be pretty difficult for a lady to deal with in a practical fashion. I just don’t think they have aptitude to win a Formula One race,” he said.
No woman has ever scored a point in Formula One — although Italian Leila Lombardi scored a half point in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix — and none has entered a race since her compatriot Giovanna Amati failed to qualify in 1992.
Women racers have been far more successful in the US, with Danica Patrick a race winner in IndyCar and starting on pole position in NASCAR for this year’s Daytona 500.
The Williams F1 team have Scottish-born Susie Wolff as a development driver, but she lacks the mandatory super-licence to compete. Her record in the German DTM touring car series has been less than stellar.
She told the BBC that Moss’ comments had made her cringe.
“I’m in a position where I’m just trying to get into F1, but I do believe that it’s possible for a women to get in, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this,” she said.
Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said recently that, much as he would like to, he could not see a woman driver getting a race seat in the near future because “there’s nobody good enough.”