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Jessica Hawkins on forging her own path and finding the next female F1 driver

Aston Martin F1

Jessica Hawkins treads her own path, whether that's on the track, heading the Aston Martin Aramco F1 Academy programme, or championing diversity and inclusion as our Driver Ambassador. No stranger to breaking convention, her journey has taken multiple twists and turns but by following her ambition she's inspired – and continues to inspire – young women to pursue a career in the sport.

As a racing driver, Jessica has contested everything from Formula Ford to the female-only W Series, by way of Mini Challenge and the British Touring Car Championship. She's now racing in the British GT Championship behind the wheel of an Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

Though, perhaps you're more likely to have seen her in an Aston Martin Aramco F1 car – be that ending a near-five-year wait for another woman to drive a modern F1 car or putting one of our cars through its paces on a live demo run. At 29, she's also the Head of Racing for our F1 Academy operation, mentoring the next generation of talent in the newest F1 feeder series.

As we celebrate Originals – those who continue to strive for better – together with our official lubricant partner Valvoline, Jessica opens up on how her her journey hasn't been straightforward but her commitment to making it has never faltered. She's a determined advocate for women in motorsport, passionate about fostering change and creating a more inclusive environment at the pinnacle of the sport. She believes this is a long road – but, as she discusses below, one that's worth travelling.

Never giving up

"Like all racing drivers, I'm always looking for ways to go faster, finding paths to develop my skillset and looking for different areas in which I can improve. The ultimate goal is driving faster. Faster over one lap; faster over a race distance; faster over the course of a season.

Aston Martin F1

"I'm enjoying my latest challenge on track. The British GT Championship is very competitive and the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is just amazing. It's all very new for me – but I'm not one to shy away from a challenge. I've never done any GT racing before, so there's quite an adjustment to make and new processes to learn while getting into the rhythm. Our speed is good, and it’s really just about bringing it all together now.

"GT3 is the latest in a long line of categories I've sampled during a career where progress hasn't been smooth and racing appearances have been sporadic. There have been years in which I've barely been behind the wheel – certainly, I've never had that one car in which I've spent multiple years – but through it all, I've never fallen out of love with the sport. I still love it as much as I did when I started. When you love something this much, when you retain the drive and the passion, it's easy to keep trying.

"It is challenging to sustain a career in motorsport: finding sponsorship is a constant struggle. Many drivers fall by the wayside. I think the simple reason I'm still here is that I refused to give up. If ever I'd given an inch, I wouldn't be here now. I've taken learnings from everything I've raced and I'm putting that into practice now, both in British GT and in my role with Aston Martin Aramco."

What holds back inclusion?

"There are not enough women involved in motorsport, though the question of how to remedy the imbalance is a difficult one to answer. I think this must be tackled at the grassroots. We must get more girls invested in the sport at a young age.

Aston Martin F1

"Motorsport is a pyramid: Formula One sits at the apex, karting is at the base. For a variety of different reasons, most people will fall away on the climb through the various categories. If we're starting with so many fewer females, then, of course, by the law of averages, we're not going to see one at the pinnacle – and we're going to see far fewer racing across the top echelons of global motorsport in general.

"This is why I think it's all about attracting the younger generation, getting them into karting at the grassroots level. We need to make them see motorsport as a viable option, understand there are no genuine gender barriers. If you're a young girl and dream of making it to Formula One, that's a possibility. We have to spread this message if we're going to be successful."

Small steps

"It is unrealistic to think that we might click our fingers and engineer a 50:50 ratio of drivers, equally split between men and women. This needs to be incremental. It's important that we keep pushing, keep doing what we can and move things forward step by step. I can see it happening. There are already so many more women involved in racing than when I first started. It's not where it needs to be, but the little steps are important.

"The buzz around women's motorsport and women in motorsport is huge at the moment. F1 Academy, in particular, is doing a great job. I think the more the younger kids see it, the better. On a more personal level, I think doing a demonstration in Riyadh, driving the AMR22 was a huge step."

Aston Martin F1

Bringing people with us

"Aston Martin Aramco has a strong commitment to being a diverse and inclusive organisation, to making a mark, and we're starting to see more and more potential partners keen to walk the walk with us. The more of those we get to join us on our journey, the more it piques the interest of others. It's not something we can be pushy about: it's a realisation they need to come to themselves but certainly, we're seeing a bigger uptick in the number and variety of organisations that want to partner with us.

"We can see that change is happening and that people within the higher echelons of motorsport are more open-minded. We're hearing fewer derogatory comments. Those are never going away completely, but they can be minimised. That's a positive.

"F1 Academy is hugely instrumental in that. It's not overstating it to say it is changing the face of motorsport. I'm a huge advocate for it – but I wouldn’t be able to do the things I've done without the support of Aston Martin Aramco. The team has given me the tools that allow me to shout about it. This sort of collective effort is crucial – it isn't something that can be done in isolation. It's a real pleasure to be able to work with and develop Tina Hausmann, our F1 Academy driver.

Aston Martin F1

"There's real motivation in this for me because I can see the change, even from only a few years ago when I was competing in W Series. It's still going to be a long and bumpy road, it won't be immediate, but this is the journey. This is… life.

"Ultimately, I believe the work done collectively by my generation of female drivers will have a positive influence on the generations to come. It's something I'm thoroughly enjoying, even though at times it can be frustrating. If I've made it easier for those who follow, or at least made the path a little straighter, then I'll be very happy."


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