Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One CEO, thinks women lack the strength to race

Bernie Ecclestone is the billionaire CEO of Formula One. He’s a British guy, he’s 85 years old, and I know him primarily from his spoiled daughters, Tamara and Petra, who love to get papped and spend their dad’s money on flashy luxury goods and enormous estates. Petra bought Candy Spelling’s mansion while Tamara has equally ridiculous real estate holdings.

Recently Ecclestone addressed the issue of female race car drivers. He doesn’t think they have the strength to control the cars and he doesn’t think they would be taken seriously anyway. In Ecclestone’s estimation women make good heads of companies though because they don’t have big egos. Oh and he’s voting for Trump. Here’s some of The Daily Beast’s report on this:

[Danica] Patrick has often claimed that the power of the car is more important than the outright strength of the driver. “No matter how good you are, how brave you are or anything, it comes down to that car so many times,” she said. “Not every time, but so many times.”

Ecclestone is in no mood to put that to the test in the sport that he runs. He cast doubt over their physical ability and appeared to suggest that none of the teams would be willing to give women the chance to prove him wrong.

“I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly, and they wouldn’t be taken seriously,” he said Tuesday.

Away from the pressures of professional sport, he said he thought women would be able to crack the glass ceiling. Particularly as chief executives in business: “Women are more competent, and they don’t have massive egos,” he said.
One woman who proved an equal match for Eccelstone was his second wife, Slavica Malic, who is exactly a foot taller than him. When they separated, she secured a divorce settlement of more than $1 billion.

Alice Powell, a 23-year-old British racing driver, has previously criticized Ecclestone’s attitude to women drivers. “Someone needs to prove Bernie wrong.”

In previous decades, drivers like Michele Mouton, who came close to winning the 1982 World Rally Championship, and Shirley Muldowney, who won three drag-racing titles in the 1970s and ’80s, have proved that women can compete given the opportunity.

Ecclestone’s judgment has been called into question in the past, and some of his other remarks today raised further eyebrows. He was asked about the prospect of Donald Trump becoming president. “I think he’d be fantastic,” he said. “Putin would tell him what to do.”

[From The Daily Beast]

This guy is older than dirt and he has attitudes to match. As The Daily Beast points out, the reigning champion in Formula One racing (not to be confused with Nascar, that’s more US-centric*) is Lewis Hamilton, 31, and he’s 5’9″ and is all of 150 pounds. Hamilton, incidentally, recently called out Formula One execs. He said that sport “is money and power” and that the people making the decisions are the ones “Who are sitting in their chair, striking a pen, paying checks, making money.” He added that he wasn’t “Saying that it’s wrong,” but it’s “Just like a corporate business — money is the power, money is the ruler. The people who own the sport make the decisions.” It’s too bad that those people are so out of touch.

Here’s Nascar and Indy racer Danica Patrick doing bodyweight exercises. She looks pretty strong to me.

I'm bored….

A video posted by Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) on

*Formula One is different than Nascar in that it’s more European-centric and they race in -edit- circuits and occasionally closed off city streets. (Thanks D and Elisa!) This may be basic and non-informative for some of you, but I’m not very familiar with racing.

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50 Responses to “Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One CEO, thinks women lack the strength to race”

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Maybe it is weak of me, but I have better things to do than to drive around in circles for hours.

    • Celebitchy says:

      They don’t drive around in circles! See my footnote. The Formula One racers -edit- race on circuits , autodromes and occasionally closed city streets. (Thanks D and Elisa)

      • D says:

        They rarley race in ‘villages’ ,”usually held on purpose-built circuits, and in a few cases on closed city streets.”(wikipedia). I don’t think it would even be possible to race a formula one car on country roads.

      • Elisa the I. says:

        the only F1 race taking place on an actual street is Monaco. All the others take place in autodromes or on racing circuits (tracks) like Spa/Belgium, Hockenheim/Germany.
        Also, Susie Wolff was actually racing a few races in F1 (she was a F1 test driver until she retired last year).
        Still F1 is a total sausage fest and IMO boring as hell.

      • Celebitchy says:

        Thanks D I need to do more homework on this one. I will update my comment and the post.

      • D says:

        The only reason I even know that is because my dad loves formula one :) But I agree with @Elise the I, it’s boring as hell. Unfortunately those in control of formula one are all old rich men, and I think they agree with Bernie Ecclestone.

      • Elisa the I. says:

        You are welcome! :*
        There is a another promising female F1 development driver called Carmen Jordá. I only know this stuff because my mum LOVES F1 (I don’t get why).

      • Elisa the I. says:

        Hi D, I think my mum and your dad would make great friends. :) The funny thing is that my mum doesn’t even own a driving lincense. This season she is again rooting for Lewis Hamilton (I think she is a bit in love with him).

      • D says:

        @Elisa the I, Yes they probably would :) . My dad stopped talking formula one with me when I decided to cheer for the team who has the most attractive driver (Jenson Button) he said “that’s not how you pick a team!” haha

      • senna says:

        @D If it were, Max Chilton formerly of Marussia-now-Manor would take the cake. Go google his modeling photos. He was basically a beautiful blonde model stuck in a racing car. Whenever he would come in last (the Marussia car wasn’t very competitive) I enjoyed thinking about the great second career he’d have on a runway.

      • senna says:

        @Elisa: Did you catch the Carmen Jorda segment on Sky in the China GP pre-race show? For some reason they had her coach two other women athletes around the course in a Lamborghini, and then abstained from having them race head-to-head a la top gear. I was so pissed off.

      • Elisa the I. says:

        @D: Jenson Button is HOT and I love his accent!
        @Senna: luckily I did not catch that. I only watch F1 when I’m with my mum and then I tease her about it. Are you a big F1 fan? Your name makes me wonder… :)

      • senna says:

        @Elisa: you guessed correctly about the provenance of my username! The Jorda segment was amazing, in that it was Natalie Pinkham and three other women onscreen at the same time, one of them a racing driver. It was possibly more women than have ever appeared together in the context of F1 broadcast. And then the entire segment was the women being passengers for a couple of fast laps by Jorda, freaking out about the speed. And then not actually racing. Argh.

      • delphi says:

        Okay. So, two years ago my parents sent me to a week-long IndyCar (the US version of F1) driving school for my birthday. I am no muscle woman, but I’m strong enough to bench press my own weight, play ice hockey, tennis, and run four times a week.

        Bernie Ecclestone can kiss my ass. Yes, open-wheel cars are crazy fast and a beast to control, but if you know that going in, and condition yourself to be an endurance athlete, a woman can most certainly race just as well as the men. It’s the fact that the chauvinists who sign the checks and find the endorsements don’t want to give us womenfolk that chance.

        I’ll never forget the look on Mr. Delphi’s face when I got out of the car after running my final laps. He was equal parts proud and profoundly jealous. It was AWESOME. *maniacal laugh*

    • Annetommy says:

      This man has a history of obnoxious comments, not only on this subject: he thinks Putin should be in charge of Europe and thinks Hitler got the job done…the job presumably being genocide. If the head of another sport came out with this nonsense they’d be canned. And it’s a bloody silly sport as well.

      • Sheila says:

        I thought he was being sarcastic with that last comment. You mean he’s not?

      • Annetommy says:

        He was very clear on his views re Hitler in an interview in The Times a few years ago, he later claimed he was misunderstood but it seems a feeble excuse when you read what he actually said. He’s a fan of strong leaders and not very keen on democracy apparently. A kind of older greyer shorter Trump, with similarly plasticised daughters.

  2. Tina says:

    Ickle Bernie! I have a lot of respect for him in one sense, because he has built Formula One up to what it is today, but he’s just an old-fashioned chauvinist pig.

  3. Farrah says:

    Strength-wise, there’s a pretty huge difference between a 150-lb. man and a 150-lb. woman.

    • Jade says:

      Not really, there is huge difference between 150 lbs of muscle vs 150 lbs of non muscle.

    • Sheila says:

      A 150 lb woman is a big girl. If that’s all muscle, she’s all set. A 150 lb man is average to kinda small, depending on his height and age.

  4. Maya says:

    Old man talking about today’s women is just a big no.

    Test drivers for both Mercedes & Ferrari are women and yet they are not given a chance to compete in Formula One.

    You need physical strength, driving skills and inner strength to drive a Formula One car and WOMEN have that.

    Infact – Formula One cars are down to the mechanics and technology these days. The drivers with the fastest car wins.

    Get a wan to drive one of those cars and she will beat the men easily.

    • Farrah says:

      “The drivers with the fastest car wins.”

      It takes a great driver to make a fast car the FASTEST car. It’s not merely all mechanics.

      “Get a wan to drive one of those cars and she will beat the men easily.”

      That explains all the races Danica Patrick has won in NASCAR.

  5. als says:

    Hamilton is completely right.
    The latest race scandal in the WTA where Garcia called Begu a ‘gypsy’ because she was losing the match was successfully covered up by the money people there. No one bothered to investigate or to check anything out, just silence. Professional sports are getting uglier by the day.

  6. Mewsie says:

    Women can definitely race, they just aren’t welcome in this sport. So it’s not on them, but on the dinosaurs like this guy.

    Also, note that whenever women are allowed in a profession/sport, the size of the paychecks decreases for everyone… because men in charge and society view work done by women as less valuable and fields where women work on equal positions as men lose from their prestige and the worth assigned to those fields.

    Sad. Go away you greedy Mosasaur.

  7. SilkyMalice says:

    Meh. Get off my lawn old man.

  8. Kinnakee says:

    Ecclestone has managed to ruin F1 from start to end. It used to be much more fun back in the day and I only started to watch it in the late 90′s/early 2000′s. All these new rules he came up with have put the competitiveness close to zero, now if you’re not british or in a top 3 team (in a optimistic perspective) you’re most likely to never go to the podium. So there’s no surprise that someone who turned a sports competition like F1 into business would think that about us women. And no wonder what he thinks about women in other activities. I always wondered why there were no women racing and now I know why: as long as he’s in charge, there’ll never be. And it’s because of people like him that we have to be constantly proving ourselves, it’s ridiculous.

  9. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    Well, I think you, Bernie Eccelstone, lack the strength to not have tunnel vision. Wanker.

  10. Size Does Matter says:

    Either his daughters take after mom or they had a really gorgeous milkman back in the day.

    • Ankhel says:

      Or they got every beauty fix that could be bought for money. Petra’s nose has been shaved so hard it looks like a camel’s back!

    • LAK says:

      Tamara without make up looks like Bernie in a wig!!!

      Petra has had work done.

      They both look more like their mother, even with Tamara favouring Bernie.

  11. Erinn says:

    I can’t stand Danica. That’s all I’ve got.

  12. lower-case deb says:


    i prefer motogp than f1

  13. Mar says:

    Geez his daughters sure are not easy on the eyes.

  14. Swordspoint says:

    “They wouldn’t be taken seriously” meaning HE wouldn’t take them seriously. This is a stupid argument: women don’t belong in this sport because I don’t think women belong in this sport. Ugh.

  15. senna says:

    I think I’ve seen nearly every F1 race for the last 3 years, and I was a casual fan before that thanks to my husband’s enthusiasm, and I watched in the early 90s era when my Dad was into the sport. Every so often, it’s like I wake up and think, “how is my favourite televised sport so environmentally harmful and misogynistic?” I mean, flying cars, teams and equipment to tracks around the world for races, driving fuel-burning cars for hours on end, building and destroying car components and endangering human life. I mean, look at the pit wall: while there are 2 women team bosses, from a visual survey it seems like 99% of the racing engineers are male, and most of the women you see are in PR, wrangling drivers to and from press interviews.

    So why do I watch it? This is a sport that thrives on endless amounts of gossip and intrigue, marrying high-minded technical feats of engineering and beautiful racing with the most petty driver spats and mind-games. I love that.

    Bernie Ecclestone lives to be provocative. He loves nothing better than to rile up the press, the teams and the drivers by insulting them and playing power games with them. This is just another one of those times he’s run his mouth. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take him seriously, because we should, and the press should wage a war on behalf of women drivers against Bernie. That’d be great; the best outcome of this situation in which Bernie spat out a few backhand comments that he didn’t think twice about saying.

    The odds are statistically against any women driver. The odds of making it in F1 as any driver, being a top 5 driver, are astronomically low. What you need to break in is either truly exceptional talent, being the best driver of your generation, or to come along with sponsorship money, which helps your team to survive the very expensive F1 development and racing schedule, and be good enough to compete in the top 10 given a bit of luck. Even in the current F1, one of my favourites, Nico Hulkenberg, showed a huge amount of promise early on, but has not been picked up by a top team and now he’s probably to old to make a switch. This happens more often than it doesn’t. Many, many men don’t make it as top drivers.

    The problem is systemic. Teams are very risk-averse, and they always want the least risky solution. By way of illustration, Susie Wolff, a testing driver for Williams, came very close to starting on the grid last year when their main driver, Valterri Bottas, was injured. Susie was passed over for Adrian Sutil, a reserve driver with actual F1 racing experience (Susie had none). It made sense, actually: you want the most experienced person stepping in, and Susie wasn’t that person. The team boss for Williams is a woman, and Susie is married to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, and neither of these powerful connections or circumstances helped her in this particular situation. (Susie’s now retired).

    Any young woman driver is going to have to fight an uphill battle tougher than the battle fought by her male peers. She’ll have to survive the extremely male-dominated environment of the racing pit wall. She’ll be passed over for people less talented but with better connections. Or she’ll be extremely talented but she’ll meet with sponsors and teams who are risk-averse and who don’t want to take a chance on a woman for “publicity.” This is another part of the problem: while the current generation of drivers is PR-managed to the extreme, and they want likable and interesting drivers, ultimately they want drivers who bring in money and results. That person can be a hero, or a villain, (and your perspective on this can depend on your national allegiances – just look at the historic Prost/Senna battle, one of the all-time great rivalries in the history of sports).

    It’s ironic that we’re questioning women’s racing capabilities now, because in terms of racing physique, there’s never been a better time for a driver to possess the stereotypical feminine attributes of smallness and lightness. That’s what the drivers need to be these days to fit into the cars and give the teams the best advantage; most drivers are very fit but extremely thin. There’s actually a handful of women drivers who have raced in F1, not to any tremendous track success, but still – it’s absurd to say that women now are less capable of racing than women then. There’s Maria Teresa de Filippis who raced in ’58; Lella Lombardi who raced in 1974-5, Divina Galica (late 70s), Giovanna Amati (1992), and Desiré Wilson (1980). So, since the early 90s there’s been a complete absence of women drivers, when they actually competed in the 50s.

    • laura says:

      I was going to say the same thing about there previously being women in F1. There have also been successful women in rallying, nascar and numerous other forms of motor racing. Susie Wolff was talked up so much because of who her husband was when she had barely even registered when she drove in DTM. IMO she shouldn’t have been a test driver but money (and connections) talk. I live in the UK and there are some good young female drivers in the lower categories of motorsport, I’d love for some of them to make it big. But if that’s Bernie’s attitude they won’t stand a chance while he’s in charge. He is slowly ruining F1, which has been the pinnacle of motorsport since year dot.

      • senna says:

        Agree about Susie’s connections giving her a shot in the first place. I feel that’s the sport in general, as you alluded. Would Bruno Senna or Max Verstappen have been given a chance without their relatives’ success? I wonder how long Bernie is going to hold onto power; I agree his attitude is a huge problem towards even the possibility of giving women drivers a change.

      • senna says:

        Also, Susie Wolff posted on Facebook today that, after taking his remarks in context (whatever context that could be), and in one-on-one conversation with Bernie, she is of the opinion that he supports women drivers in F1. I’ll ride-or-die for Susie any day, but seriously? She must have some particular insight inaccessible to us unwashed plebs, or be willing to stomach that two-faced asshole better than the rest of us, because I don’t see it.

  16. Thais says:

    How can he vote for Trump when he’s British? He’s not a naturalized U.S. citizen, is he?

    • Carol says:

      I don’t think so. But I love how Bernie supports Trump but then insults him by claiming he’d be Putin’s b***ch. Wish Trump had more supporters like him;)

  17. kri says:

    Dessicated garden gnome. His brain is fossilized. Any woman that has the skill to drive can tailor her workouts and training to be strong enough. To his haystack, it’s clear that women are meant to be decorative (unless you have no ego then you can run a business wtf). And of course he would love Trump. Look at their hair. They can form a tribe (please don’t)

  18. lucy2 says:

    He seems to lack the strength to comb his hair.

  19. Chinoiserie says:

    Women need success in the lower classes before F1 is a realistic possiblity. I think there is so long time this will happen unfortunately.

  20. Tiffany says:

    Am I really worried about the opinion of a man who looks like he is held together by silly putty and self bronzer.

  21. senna says:

    Also, because it’s so rare that I get to talk F1, I will share that I am 99% sure Lewis Hamilton is 5’7″ or so, not 5’9″. I met him back in 2014 after the Canadian GP, and he was around my height, but definitely not much taller.

  22. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    Reminds me of my dad’s misogynistic attitude about women in construction. He used to argue that women shouldn’t be operating bulldozers and diggers because they didn’t have the body strength. I had to point out to him that these machines had motors and levers and you didn’t have to lift tonnes of earth with your bare hands (like anyone could?). He had all sorts of opinions about a woman’s place in the world. Now, that said, I say “he” because that was years ago before my dad had the sex change. Go figure.