"I want to compete with the men"

Marta García hopes for a career in motor racing.
Marta García hopes for a career in motor racing. / Reuters
  • Marta García is the only Spaniard in the W Series, a motor racing competition for women. "We need this to give us visibility," she says

When we spoke to Marta García her university access exams were coming up and she was doing some last-minute revision before travelling to Misano in Italy for the third race in the W Series, a competition created to help women take the leap into Formula 1 racing which takes place on six European circuits with F3 racing cars.

The maiden edition of this competition drew to a close on Sunday at Brands Hatch and this teenager from Valencia, who wants to study marketing, publicity and public relations, finished up in fourth place overall, after having achieved third and fourth place in the first two races, respectively, and winning at Nuremberg.

After a season in the dry dock, what has it meant to you to compete for the W Series?

It is very important, because thanks to that I have returned to racing. Until last year, when the W Series started, I didn't know what I was going to do this season. I didn't have anything in sight.

Did you consider giving up?

Yes, but not because I didn't want to race. It was because we didn't have the money for anything else. When I finished my last race at the Spanish Karting Championship in September, I talked to my parents about giving up motor racing. Thanks to the W Series I have the chance clock up kilometres. I'm sure something will come up in the future.

What sort of money are we talking about, to keep on competing?

Joining a team that competes in Formula 4 can cost about 130,000 euros and if you are in Formula 3, then it can be as much as 300,000 euros.

The W Series has put back on the table the old debate about whether there should be competitions exclusively for women. Do you think it is an opportunity for women to show their talent, or is it an obstacle to real equality in Formula 1?

Rather than discriminatory, as some people think it is, I see it as an opportunity. The W Series is enabling us to compete and gain experience. This championship, which is free, was necessary to give us visibility and show what we can do on the racetrack.

And do you think there should be a Formula 1 for men and another for women, as in other sports?

No, I want to compete with the men. I want to reach the real Formula 1, the one there is now, the one there has always been. The W Series is a great idea as a trampoline that could lead to a team ringing you or a good opportunity coming your way if you do well.

Did you prepare in any special way for this competition?

Nothing special. I continued to train at the High Performance Centre in Sant Cugat, as I had been doing until now, in case an opportunity came up. I have intensified my neck exercises, but you need to be very well prepared physically in general.

After being the first woman to take part in the training programme of a manufacturer, the Renault Sport Academy in this case, was it very hard when they dropped you?

I can't deny the importance of having been in a junior team, but it wasn't an unbearable blow. Maybe the results weren't as good as they had hoped. I lost an opportunity with Renault, but it's not the end of the world.

"I control my nerves well"

Why do you think women haven't competed in Formula 1 in recent years, when in other motor sports they have taken giant steps?

The biggest problem is that there are hardly any women in motor racing. When I competed in karting, we were just two girls and 90 boys. I hope someone reaches Formula 1 but as there are so few of us it is too much to hope for. This is the big problem, but we also lack support and backing from sponsors who believe in us. We have the ability and I'm sure that one day we will get as far as the men do, and we will do it alongside them.

To what extent do the handicap of physical strength and the effort needed at the wheel determine whether women take part in certain categories?

In the F4 and F3 championships in which I have raced, I have never found the effort needed at the wheel to be a problem in the half-hour the race lasted. I can cope with it well, but maybe in an F2 it would be more difficult.

Have you found any surprises with the controls of the car in the W Series, the Tatuus F-3 T-318?

No, because I already knew the model, I tried it when I raced in F4. The main difficulty is counteracting the G force when we are racing at 250 kilometres an hour.

How far are you prepared to go to race in Formula 1?

I'd like to reach a high category, and if I can't then at least earn a living competing. Weeks before the W Series I started to work with a manager who has a group of investors behind him and if I continue with his support, I'll be able to continue.

They say drivers are very emotional people. Do you often get attacks of nerves?

In general, I control my nerves well.

What's life like at nearly 300 kilometres an hour?

At that moment you don't think of anything except the race. You're concentrating on the track and whether you need to correct something.

What goes through your head during those seconds before you start?

A lot of things at the same time, usually, especially when I'm feeling nervous, but I try to keep calm and think about what I should do when I start.

What are you afraid of when you race?

Nothing, obviously. Otherwise, I wouldn't race.

In your everyday life, are you as determined?

No, I'm more timid but I'm starting to try different things.