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Carmen Jorda: Former racer criticized for stance on women racing in F1

Former racer Carmen Jorda has drawn criticism for saying women should strive for Formula E, for example, instead of F1 because the car is easier to drive.


Story highlights

  • Former F1 development driver says Formula E could be better for women
  • Carmen Jorda's comments draw criticism from the likes of Jenson Button
  • Jorda sits on the FIA's Women in Motorsport Commission

(CNN)Women's participation in elite motorsport is under renewed debate after former Formula One development driver Carmen Jorda suggested female drivers struggle with the physical demands of the cars.

The Spaniard -- who sits on the FIA's Women in Motorsport Commission -- suggested female drivers would find it easier in Formula E, the world's premier all-electric racing series.

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    After getting behind the wheel of a Formula E car for a demonstration ahead of last weekend's race in Mexico, Jorda was asked by reporters if the car was indeed easier to drive for women.

    "I think so," she replied.

    Jorda continued: "It's a less physical car than in Formula One because of the downforce and because of the power steering as well. So yes for sure. The challenge that we women have in Formula Two and Formula One is a physical issue and I think in Formula E, we won't have it.

    Photos: Formula E unveil next generation car in Geneva

    Formula E, the world's leading all-electric racing series, officially unveiled its next generation car Tuesday at the Geneva Motor Show.

    Photos: Formula E unveil next generation car in Geneva

    The Gen2, as it's been named, will make its racing debut at the start of the 2018-19 Formula E season.

    Photos: Formula E unveil next generation car in Geneva

    After a digital launch earlier this year, the first physical model was revealed by FIA President Jean Todt and Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag.

    Photos: Formula E unveil next generation car in Geneva

    Formula E title partner ABB provided a robotic arm to lift the cover on the new design.

    Photos: Formula E unveil next generation car in Geneva

    The new car will have twice the energy storage of the current car, doubling its range. It means the end of the mid-race car swap that has been a fixture of Formula E since its debut in 2014.

    Photos: Formula E unveil next generation car in Geneva

    The Gen2 will have a top speed of 174 mph thanks to an increase in the maximum power output.

    Photos: Formula E unveil next generation car in Geneva

    It will also have a new LED strip which allows fans to follow the drivers' race modes and tactics.

    Photos: Formula E unveil next generation car in Geneva

    Todt said: "Formula E will continue to push the development of electric vehicle technology, and this car is an important milestone in this journey."

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    READ: Electric "HIPERCAR" is a "game changer"

    "It's not for me to decide what's good for women or not in the sport. But in my experience I can say Formula One -- not all the other championships, karting, Formula Three, GT, I think women are capable of good results in all those series -- in Formula One and Formula Two there is a barrier that is a physical issue.

    "I think there is a big issue for women and that's why there aren't any in those championships."

    However, Jorda's comments drew criticism from the likes of 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who argued on Twitter that she wasn't helping "proper female drivers" with her comments and cited prominent Nascar driver Danica Patrick as an example.

    Oh Carmen, you're not helping proper female racing drivers with this comment. Ask @DanicaPatrick about being πŸ’ͺ🏽 enough to drive a race car! She'd kick my butt in the gym & she's probably as strong as any driver on the F1 Grid right now. Physical barrier is not your issue Carmen https://t.co/hbyMzrCypg

    β€” Jenson Button (@JensonButton) March 6, 2018

    READ: Abt wins in Mexico

    Button's response drew praise from British IndyCar racer Pippa Mann and Leena Gade -- an engineer representative on the Commission -- also voiced her disapproval of Jorda's views.

    "You are entitled to your opinions and I respect that," she tweeted. "But do not use the name of the Commission to justify them when it contradicts the message and work we are doing. Women want to beat and be the best on equal terms. Not by the easiest route."

    competition is high and beating the best is how you become great. Your opinions do not represent Commission members and what we are working to do. We want women to come into a sport that has given so many of us so much joy and to grow the sport that we are passionate about.

    β€” Leena Gade (@Leena_Gade) March 6, 2018

    Mann was disappointed that Jorda was named to the Commission in the first place, the Spaniard having backed calls for a women-only championship.

    CNN has requested an interview with Jorda, we are yet to receive a response.

    Italy's Lella Lombardi was the last woman to participate in an F1 race in 1976, but could Tatiana Calderon line up on the grid sometime soon?

    On Tuesday, it was announced the Colombian would be a test driver with Sauber for the coming season.

    I'm very excited to announce that I will continue my @F1 journey with @SauberF1Team @alfa_romeo - this year as a Test Driver! Thanks to the team and @escuderiatelmex for their support and trust! pic.twitter.com/akTutroRTi

    β€” Tatiana Calderon (@TataCalde) March 6, 2018

    "Tatiana is a very hard-working person, who has impressed the team with her focus and dedication," Sauber Team Principal Fred Vasseur was quoted as saying on F1's official website.

    "She has made good progress as a driver, developing both her mental and physical capacities continuously over the past few years."