- Oct 27, 2014
As administrators Smith and Williamson’s crowdfunding effort to get the Caterham F1 team to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next weekend continues, female British driver Alice Powell has offered her services, and some backing, for next weekend’s race. With Marcus Ericsson having confirmed his driving duties for Caterham are finished, it won’t be a problem of getting a driver slot (who Caterham’s second driver would be is unclear), but as is the case more than ever in F1, money and experience might be the big drawbacks.
Powell has reportedly been promised £35,000 of funding by her grandfather should she get the go-ahead to compete in at least the first practice session, and she has suggested other investors would be willing to add to that. But 35K is mere pennies in F1 terms, and would contribute just over 1.5% of the £2.35 million #RefuelCaterhamF1 is targeting in order to participate in the season finale. Having hit 50% on Tuesday, the amount donated is currently at 57% with the deadline at midnight this Friday. If the team could make it to Abu Dhabi, the reward would be leapfrogging the defunct Marussia team in the Constructors’ standings, with the possible financial benefits of (very likely) finishing tenth. What happens beyond this season is anyone’s guess, but time is running out to make the race.
There’s also the awkward issue of Super Licenses. The FIA mandates that no driver can take part in F1 without one of these, awarded for excellence in lower single-seater categories (preferably GP2 or equivalent) or 300km of F1 testing. Alice Powell has just over a season’s worth of GP3 experience to her name, and has never driven an F1 car before; it might therefore be understandable why the FIA might take against such a last-minute entry into the sport, but Powell herself was bullish about her chances, telling Sky Sports Online: “I’m pretty confident… It will be tough, there are people who have arrived at the circuit in the past to test and have been turned away and been told ‘you don’t have a Super Licence, we aren’t giving you a Super Licence’ so it will be very tough.”
And things may be even tougher with the Daily Mail now reporting that the administrators are looking for drivers with bigger backing, naming recently crowned GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer as a likely candidate for a seat. It would be good to see another female driver in F1, and one actually allowed to race at that (Susie Wolff and Simona de Silvestro still wait on the sidelines). Credit to Alice Powell too for taking perhaps the only chance she’ll ever get at this, but I fear she wouldn’t have a chance to prove herself in an entirely new category to her, plus driving a Caterham car that would easily be the slowest on the grid. That is, if the cars even reach the circuit first.