Sneha Sharma, Mira Erda chase seats in Coulthard-back women-only race series
The trial includes fitness tests, psychometric profiling, as well as multiple driving skill tests. Former F1 stars David Coulthard and Alex Wurz will be among the judges, alongside Dave Ryan, W Series racing director.Updated: Nov 28, 2018 21:08 IST
Two Indian drivers will take an important step in the fresh global initiative to help provide a path for women aspiring to enter Formula One.
Sneha Sharma, 28, an A-320 commander with Indigo, and Mira Erda, 18, have been chosen for the crucial second and final stage to select drivers for the all-female racing series starting in May next year. They are among 55 drivers from around 25 countries chosen to undergo evaluation on and off the track, in Melz, Austria from January 24-28. The announcement was made on Wednesday.
The trial includes fitness tests, psychometric profiling, as well as multiple driving skill tests. Former F1 stars David Coulthard and Alex Wurz will be among the judges, alongside Dave Ryan, W Series racing director.
The ‘W Series’ is supported by Coulthard and top designer Adrian Newey. A total of 18 drivers and two reserves will make the final cut for the races to be run of F1 tracks in Europe to begin with, and offering a modest prize fund of $1.5 million.
“It feels great to be shortlisted. I have always raced with men. Once I put the helmet on, I’m a racing driver,” Sneha said over phone from the Sepang F1 circuit, where she is taking part in a race this weekend.
She knows what it will take to make the grade, but is excited by the dream of racing for India. Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandok drove in F1. “I will focus extra on fitness, especially cardio training. Besides, winter racing (in Austria) throws up its own challenge and I must be thorough about various aspects of the car, tyre pressure, etc,” said Sneha.
For the Mumbai-born, Chennai-based pilot, it is a huge leap after recovering from a bad injury suffered last year while fitness training. “I had to fight my way through after being on a wheelchair for a while (meniscus tear). I’m not only physically, but also mentally ready for this.”
Mira Erda took part in the Euro JK 2018 race and Sneha in the next rung LGB Formula 4 at the JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship earlier this month.
No woman has competed in Formula One since 1976 and opinion is divided whether the exclusive platform being provided would actually help women compete with men in F1.
The organisers are upbeat. “At the heart of W Series’ DNA is the firm belief that women can compete equally with men in motorsport. However, an all-female series is essential to force greater female participation,” they had said in a statement in October.
The plan is to stage six 30-minute races, most of them on past F1 venues, with 1.8 litre Formula Three cars. If successful, the series would be expanded to Asia, Australia and America. Coulthard, a winner of 13 F1 races (1995-2003) will be involved in driver training.
No woman has scored a point in F1, though Italian Lella Lombardi scored a half point in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, and only two have started races since the championship began in 1950. Lombardi started 12 races between 1974 and 1976. The last was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for the race in 1992.
First Published: Nov 28, 2018 21:08 IST