In the world of competitive driving, the FIA Formula One (F1) World Championships and the Indianapolis 500 are two of the most established forms of racing around the world.
Out of the hundreds of drivers to have entered Formula 1 and the Indy 500 since they started, only 15 have been women (5 for F1 and 10 for IndyCar). While races like the World Endurance Championships (WEC) are giving women more opportunities to get on the track, the industry continues to be dominated by male drivers.
In contrast, the fan base is more evenly split.
In 2022, Formula 1 Group CEO, Stefano Domenicali claimed that around 40% of F1 fans were now female, up 8% from 2017. With more women watching, it’s no surprise that there’s also a growing demand for more representation in the sport. In fact, 43% of women think more motorsports teams need to include females, with 32% of women aged 18-34 saying they’d watch more motorsports if there were more female race car drivers.*
Social media is playing a huge role in making the sport more popular and accessible, with female drivers sharing their careers across Instagram, TikTok and X (Twitter). Following in the footsteps of icons like Danica Patrick, today’s female drivers are using social media to carve out a place for women in the industry, inspiring others to get involved in the sport and support their journeys.
We’ve zoomed in on 10 current, active female drivers racing today to see the impact social media is having on the world of motorsports. Looking at their followings across different platforms, we’ve compiled a list of the most influential drivers in Europe and worldwide who are changing the face of driving and creating space for everyone on the race track.
* Avis Attitudes to Driving Survey; fieldwork conducted between 21 July, 2023 & 16 August, 2023
German-born Sophia Floersch began her driving career when she started karting at just five years old! Since then she’s worked her way up, racing in the FIA Formula 3 European Championships in 2018 at age 17.
Despite a life-changing high-speed crash at the Macau Grand Prix that year, Floersch has continued to hone her skills, smashing records and earning her place in the history books. Just some of her accolades include:
Off the track, she’s a true advocate for female race car drivers and since joining F1’s Alpine Academy in 2023, has become an ambassador for their Rac(H)er programme, dedicated to empowering women in racing. Sophia Floersch also uses her Instagram and TikTok accounts to share her life as a professional driver and even has her own YouTube channel, filled with behind-the-scenes vlogs of her race weekends.
Jame Chadwick is a British racing driver who is paving the way for women in the industry with her impressive career.
Chadwick’s big break came in 2019 as she took part in the first season of the W Series, an all-female single-seater racing championship. She made history as the competition’s first winner and went on to defend her title twice more in 2021 and 2022. In 2021 she also took part in the FIA WEC’s official rookie test in Bahrain.
Recently, she made the move to America to compete in the Indy NXT (formerly Indy Lights). This makes her the first full-time female Indy NXT driver in over a decade and gives her a chance to showcase her skills on a much bigger scale.
Like Floersch, Chadwick has also often spoken about women in racing, encouraging younger drivers with the mantra “if you see it you can be it” and keeping this in mind as she strives towards her own goals.
So, will she follow in the footsteps of US driving icons like Danica Patrick and Susie Wolff, or could we see Jamie Chadwick in a future F1 grid? Only time will tell.
Margot Laffite is a recognisable figure in the world of female racing drivers in France, following in the footsteps of her father, Jacques Laffite, a former F1 driver.
She’s made a name for herself since racing Le Mans at age 15, going on to participate in events like the Peugeot RCZ Racing Cup, the FIA GT3 European Championship and the Andros Trophy – a French ice racing championship – where she won the Ladies Trophy for the first time in 2005. Laffite went on to win more titles at the Andros Trophy in the 2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons.
Laffite has continued her passion for driving into her career as a TV journalist, hosting several car shows and presenting F1 coverage in France.
As a further act of support for other female drivers, Laffite also sponsored and took part in the Rallye de Princesses in 2022, a prestigious women-only motorsport challenge in France where participants and co-drivers drive vintage cars, following targeted speeds and set distances.
Spanish Marta Garcia is a race car driver who has been racing and winning titles since she was 15. Her single-seater career started in Spanish F4 in 2016, having previously won the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy and the Trofeo delle Industrie in 2015.
Like Jamie Chadwick, Garcia’s career took a step up when she participated in the first W Series championship in 2019, finishing 4th. She raced in the series again in 2021 and 2022.
In early 2023, Marta Garcia’s skills earned her a place in the new all-female F1 Academy series, and she has already dominated the season so far by securing 10 podium places.
Her support for women in driving is clear even from her Instagram bio: “inspiring women to fight for the unthinkable”. In an interview, she explained that the ‘unthinkable’ refers to being a woman in racing, saying she wants to encourage other young women in the industry by showing her journey.
Closing out our list of influential European female race car drivers is Jessica Hawkins.
Since karting in her teens, the British driver began her single-seater professional career in 2014. She moved into single-make racing competing in the Volkswagen Racing Cup series and the Mini Challenge in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
In 2019, she also raced in the first W Series, coming in 12th place, and took part in the British Touring Car Championship in 2020. After a break she made a triumphant return to race car driving in 2021, racing in the W Series for the second time and finishing in 11th place. In 2023, she’s also become the first woman to test a Formula 1 car since 2018, a huge leap forward for future female F1 drivers.
Like her fellow racers, Hawkins strongly believes in showing young women interested in driving that there is a place for them in the industry. Speaking to Aston Martin, she said participating in events like W Series was important because “when girls see women racing, they are going to believe that they too can pursue a career behind the wheel and take the opportunity to race at grassroots level”.
Alongside her career in single-seater racing, Hawkins has worked as a stunt driver on major motion pictures in both the James Bond and Fast and Furious franchises.
The first American driver on our list, Tori Breidinger has been racing professionally since 2018.
While she’s not a full-time driver, Breidinger has already established herself in the world of motorsports. Making her debut at the ARCA Menards Series, an American stock car racing series, she’s gone on to rack up several top 10 finishes over the years. In 2023, she took part in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Kansas Speedway, becoming the first female Arab-American NASCAR driver to compete on the circuit. She finished in 15th place and is looking to tackle more Truck Series race in the future.
Alongside her driving career, Breidinger works as a model, introducing motorsports to whole new set of fans. Through her modelling, her partnerships with major brands have helped her secure the funding to continue her racing career, helping her stay on the track and reach her driving goals.
Lindsay Brewer is another American driver who has made big moves in a short amount of time. Brewer discovered driving when she tried karting at a birthday party at 11 years old. With no funding, she put her racing career on hold between 2019 and 2021 while she got her undergraduate degree.
While studying, Brewer built up her social media presence, gaining the financial support to return to racing. Making her comeback, Brewer took part in the TC America Series, securing three top-ten finishes out of her first three races.
Taking things to the next level, she joined the Indy Pro 2000 championship, formerly known as ‘the Road to Indy’. Equivalent to F3 level in Europe, this driving development programme provides a scholarship-funded path into the IndyCar Series.
Brewer is still active on social media, keen to share her races with her fans alongside snapshots of her daily life.
Bianca Bustamante is a Filippino racing driver, currently competing in the new, all-female F1 Academy.
She’s the youngest driver on our list, born in 2005 and making her single-seat racing debut in 2022 at age 17. Her first professional race was the 2022 W Series where she placed 14th overall.
In 2023, she raced in the UAE Formula 4, achieving two top 10 finishes across the series. With the F1 Academy, she’s secured two race wins in Valencia and Monza, honing her skills and proving herself as a young female race car driver.
Like fellow driver Sophia Floersch, Bustamante has her own YouTube channel where her subscribers can enjoy videos about her driving career as well as what she gets up to between races. She also regularly posts content on her Instagram and TikTok channels, engaging with her young audience.
American driver, Natalie Decker, has been making waves on the driving scene since 2013.
After racing in several region series, Decker made her ARCA debut at Toledo Speedway in 2017. In 2019, she took part in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and in February 2022, she finished 5th at Daytona, becoming the highest-finishing female NASCAR driver in the Truck Series. In 2021, she raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and took part again in 2023.
Decker was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as a child but she hasn’t let her condition get in her way. In 2021, she also became Champion Ambassador for The Arthritis Foundation to raise awareness and normalise the condition.
On her social media profiles, Decker shares her life off the track, posting ‘Get Ready With Me’ and morning routine clips to her 167k+ followers on TikTok. When she’s not behind the wheel, she also loves spending time with her dogs, Monkey and Camber.
Tatiana Calderón is a Columbian driver who started her racing career at the age of 17, taking part in the Star Mazda Championship.
Like many drivers, she started out in kart racing before moving to single-seaters. In 2013 she made history as the first woman to stand on the podium at the British Formula 3 International Series before competing in her first FIA Formula 3 European Championship races later that year.
Mentored by famous female racing driver, Susie Wolff, Calderón continued to rise through the ranks and make history. In 2014 she became the first woman to lead a series race at Spa-Francorchamps. After scoring points and achieving high-position finishes across the years, Tatiana Calderón moved into the FIA F2 Championships in 2019, becoming the first woman to drive in that series as well. Alongside her success in F2, Calderón has tried her hand at endurance racing, competing in WEC 2021, including the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2023, she returned to Le Mans, racing in the ELMS and securing a top 5 finish.
A children’s book about Tatiana’s life, ‘La Niña más Veloz que el Viento’ (The Girl Faster than the Wind) was released in April 2023, sharing her story of breaking down barriers with the next generation. On her socials, Calderón shares the highlights of racing life – as well as her love of all things coffee!
Avis analysed online presence & search demand data for 400 professional female racing drivers worldwide from various motorsport disciplines to uncover the most influential ones by creating the indexed influence score taking into account search demand for each driver and their social media following on Instagram, TikTok and X (Twitter).
Please find other Avis & World Endurance Championship coverage here, including this documentary on women in racing.