At just 16 years old, schoolgirl Alice Powell is the youngest female to have competed in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship, the 150mph single-seater race series which provides a stepping stone to Formula 1.
This year Alice is the only female driver out of 29 on the Formula Renault grid, racing with Manor Competition, who launched the careers of F1 Champions Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen – her ambition is to become the first successful female in Formula 1.
According to Alice, “the time is right, if a girl is out there doing well then more women would watch motorsport – it would definitely make it more exciting.
”This season Alice aims to be top ‘rookie and to finish in the overall top 15, outstanding achievements for a girl who is currently too young to hold her own provisional driving licence.
Alice was introduced to motorsport by her Granddad, learning to drive a car at age six and beginning her karting career 2 years later. She achieved 8 podiums in the Ginetta and BDRC Stars of Tomorrow Championships, proving she is not to be underestimated as a genuine competitor in motorsport.
Alice is a genuine inspiration for all teenagers out there balancing her academic requirements with launching her chosen career, something many teenagers will not have even considered yet. This season Alice will be sitting her GCSE exams and competing in the Championship simultaneously. Having financed Alice’s 2009 season, Silverstone Hotels continues to support her on her route to Formula 1.
Alice adds: “I’d like to be a role model for girls entering motor sport. A successful woman in motor sport would be a true ambassador for the sport and women wanting to enter it and do well. I would like to do for motor sport what Ellen MacArthur has done for sailing.”
Five Women That Have Made It To Formula 1
– Italian Maria Teresa de Filippis became the first ever woman Formula 1 driver when she competed in three Grand Prix in 1958 and finished tenth in the Belgium GP.
– Lella Lombardi finished sixth in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix during her 12-race career.
- Divina Galica failed to qualify for three races including the 1976 British GP.
– Desire Wilson failed to qualify in a Tyrrell in the 1980 British Grand Prix. But she had more luck in 1981 with the Tyrrell team in her native South Africa finishing sixth - although it was scrubbed from the championship because of a dispute between the drivers and the governing body at the time.
– The most recent woman Formula 1 driver was Giovanna Amati who drove for Brabham team in 1993 but never managed to qualify and was replaced by Damon Hill.
Top image: Stuart Clarke Photography
Middle and Last image: Marc Waller
photos Janos Schmidt