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Formula 1

Dutch woman making her mark at the FIA: Formula 1 have taken steps forward

When talking about motorsport it's often pointed out that it's male-dominated sport, however the F1 paddock shows that there are many women involved as well. One woman in the F1 paddock is Claire Dubbelman, from Netherlands, who has the prestigious role of Championship Manager of the Single Seater Department at the FIA attached to her name.

Interview
To news overview © FIA

Before the season has even started, Claire Dubbelman, who lives in Switzerland, has already racked up ample travel miles. At the time of writing, Dubbelman was in Bahrain. That's where the first Grand Prix weekend in Formula 1 and 2 took place.

"The COVID-19 conditions don't make the job any easier, of course, but let me say first of all that we are very happy to be able to race at all," the sympathetic Dubbelman stated while speaking with RacingNews365.com.

Dubbelman, born and raised in the Netherlands, has been active in motor racing since childhood. Although the job keeps her extremely busy, it also gives her ample energy.

"The task for me and the team is of course to make everything run as smoothly as possible," Dubbelman said. "That means I have to listen carefully to different people, such as the teams and the drivers. At the end of the day, I have to filter all those opinions and make sure that we make every race weekend run as smoothly as possible from a sporting point of view.

"In this regard, we are basically like the government. If everything goes fine, everyone is satisfied. However, if something happens on the track, or a penalty is handed out, we are the ones who are in the spotlight.

"And I understand the frustration. I sat on the other side of the table when I was team manager of a GT3 team, and through that experience, I can empathise with the thoughts of the teams and drivers. That experience as a team manager helps me with the work I do, because I understand how people on the other side of the table think. I can also give the team manager or driver a clearer explanation, for example."

Just 34, Dubbelman overlooks all official Formula 2, 3 and 4 championships, which comes out to a total of 26 championships!

"Yes, that means that I am almost never at home, as the classes are held all over the world," Dubbleman added. "I don't see that as a negative point, by the way. Over the years I have gotten to know so many people that the regulars in the paddock feel like my second family. As a result, I am always happy to be in the paddock, because no matter where it is in the world, I always feel at home. I also gained a direct colleague this year and I am extremely happy with that, because she carries out her work very well and that helps me and the FIA enormously."

Dubbelman and her female colleague are just two examples of the increasing number of women in Formula 1 and motorsport. A growth that should continue in the coming years in Dubbelman's eyes.

"Of course, there are always things that can be improve in motorsport in terms of creating equal opportunities," Dubbelman added. "But I think that, especially in Formula 1, 2 and 3, we are ahead of the game, although there is still a lot to do.

"I think that, especially on national levels, a lot of development is still needed in this matter and the FIA has understood that. They are working hard to give females equal opportunities and I am also trying to play my part in that. I'm very busy, but I always assist females when they give the impression that they really want to do everything. I like to help them by sharing my network for example, or by sharing my experiences with them."

The FIA created the Purpose Driven campaign, under which FOM created the Race as One campaign. "The FIA is trying in several ways to provide equal opportunities for people in motorsport and the Purpose Driven movement is one of the strategies to provide equal opportunities in society for minorities who want to work in motorsport.

"However, we can do more. There are a lot of initiatives on the table and some of them are already being implemented and we should pay more attention to that. That way we can make a greater contribution to society and that is exactly what we have in mind. I think Formula 1 showed in 2020 with different campaigns that they care about involving as many people as possible in the sport and giving them a fair chance to get started in motorsport.

"However, I do think you should always keep in mind that you have to be looking for challenges if you want to work in motorsport. I notice that women, for example, often don't apply for a job if they feel they don't have enough experience yet, while a man will often give it a try. That's why I always try to encourage women to go for something, even if at that moment you think you can't do it. In my experience, you only see after you've tried something whether you could do it or not, but you shouldn't rule it out beforehand."

Dubbelman employs that mentality in her own career as well. When asked about her own future, she says it remains an open book.

"Of course I dream of the highest level and in motorsports that is, of course, Formula 1," Dubbleman said. "I am therefore proud of the fact that I am currently already active in the F1 team of the FIA, and the next step would of course be a full-time position within that team. I'm not pinning myself down to this just yet, as I'm not one for mapping out my career.

"I've never done that and I've actually always gone from one challenge to another, without a clear strategy behind it. I am a person who wants to achieve her goals and then always be open to the next challenge. So in that respect my career can still go any way, but for now I am extremely happy with my position at the FIA and hope for a brilliant racing season this year as well."

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