Women may have the strength and stamina but they do not have the ’mental aptitude’ to compete in Formula One, according to retired 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 programme on women racers to be broadcast on Monday.
“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 60s.
“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,” added Moss.
“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.”
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 America, 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’s 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 told Reuters 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.”