By: Kloe Adams
Jess Hawkins, a 28-year-old who is a part of the Aston Martin Formula One (F1) team, is the first woman in nearly five years to drive a contemporary Formula One car. Hawkins drove at the Hungaroring Circuit, which hosts the Hungarian Grand Prix every year in September. Though heavy rains delayed the race, when the weather cleared Hawkins completed 26 laps across a series of runs in her team’s 2021 car, the AMR 21. Current Formula 2 champion and Aston Martin reserve driver Felipe Drugovich alternated driving duties with Hawkins at the private test event. Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack stated, “This is a special moment – for both AMF1 Team and for Jessica, who is an important member of our driver squad. We were really impressed by Jessica’s preparation for the test – she worked incredibly hard with our simulator team and that made it an easy decision to put her in the AMR21.” Hawkins signed with Aston Martin in an ambassadorial capacity and works as a stunt driver. As a part of her role Hawkins also performs simulator work at the team’s Silverstone factory. Besides F1 driving, Hawkins is a W Series podium finisher and British Karting Champion.
While Hawkins does not have the points to be a candidate for a full-time F1 seat, Aston Martin said the appearance in the car offered “valuable perspective as she prepares to support the team’s entry into the all-female F1 Academy series in 2024.” Set up this year, The F1 Academy creates more opportunities for young women to make their way up the motor racing pyramid. Susie Wolff, who now heads the F1 academy, was the last female participant in an F1 weekend when she completed her fourth and final appearance for Williams at the 2015 Grand Prix. Colombia’s Tatania Calderon is the last female to drive in a modern F1 car, which she did at an event in Mexico in 2018. Jamie Chadwick also completed test drives of Williams 2021 cars at demo events. Five decades ago at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix was the last time a female driver, Lella Lombardi, took part in an F1 race.
When reflecting on her experience at the test event, Hawkins stated “I want to say a big thank you to everyone at AMF1 Team for having the trust in me, believing in me, and for giving me this opportunity. It’s taken me every bit of blood, sweat and tears to get here. When I first heard it might be a possibility, I could hardly believe it. I’ve had to keep it secret for months now – which was pretty hard!” She continued mentioning, “It’s been absolutely worth it and it’s given me really valuable insight. Nothing will compare to the acceleration and braking of a Formula One car and, having looked at the data, I’m really proud of my performance. Getting to drive the AMR21 has been a dream come true for me and one I’ve been ready to fulfill for a long time. I’ll keep pushing for more and, in the process, I want to inspire other women and let them know they should follow their dream no matter what it is.”
Sources: (ESPN and Formula One)