December 17, 2008 – Swiss driver Natacha Gachnang has become the first woman to join new auto racing circuit Formula Two.
The 21-year-old Gachnang said Wednesday she has signed up for the circuit because all drivers will begin on an equal footing thanks to a lack of big-money sponsors.
“It’s a level playing field,” Gachnang told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Everyone has the same car. Everyone has one mechanic. Everyone has the same chance.”
Gachnang, who has raced in lower circuits and was a F3 frontrunner, said she would consider moving up to Formula One if her stint in the new championship goes well.
“I think it’s possible,” she said, adding that some drivers have made the jump to Formula One without going through the GP2 championship, which is considered the normal feeder.
“I’m delighted to be doing Formula Two next season because it brings me that much closer to achieving my dream of getting into Formula One. I’m realistic enough to know it’s going to be very tough, but I’m also very excited because F2 is the perfect way for me to prove myself. ”
Formula One has often talked of attracting more women fans to the sport by fielding female drivers. Among the top contenders is IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick.
So far, only a handful of women have taken part in the championship, including Lella Lombardi of Italy, who finished sixth at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.
Gachnang said: “To be honest, I try not to think about being a woman in a male-dominated sport. At times it has probably helped me, but I think it has also been hard to get people to really believe in me as a driver, especially as I climb the motorsport ladder. F2 will be a big step up from F3, and people might expect me to struggle, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge and showing everyone what I can do.
Formula Two starts May 29 in Valencia, Spain, with six drivers already confirmed. Up to 24 drivers will compete in eight events across Europe, with the finale scheduled for Nov. 1 in Barcelona, Spain.