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Page 3 Profile: Sir Stirling Moss, former Formula One driver

Still causing controversy, at 83?

He certainly is. A month ago, the former Formula 1 driver prompted outrage by saying he wouldn’t want a “poofter” to portray him in a film about his life. He hoped the actor “would be masculine” and said he wouldn’t mind seeing the role go to Daniel Craig – he of the tight blue swimming trunks. Now, Sir Stirling has turned his attention to women and, specifically, why they shouldn’t be competing in Formula 1.

Here we go again

Women, he told BBC Radio 5 Live, “have the strength” to race alongside the men. Sadly, they lack the “mental aptitude to race hard, wheel-to-wheel”. Sir Stirling, 83, added that racing is “pretty tiring”, and even though a Grand Prix today lasts just “one hour and 10 minutes” compared to the “three-hour” marathons he endured in the 1950s and 60s there are still factors that would prevent women competing at the highest level. “We’ve got some very strong and robust ladies,” he added. “But, when your life is at risk, I think the strain of that in a competitive situation will tell when you’re trying to win. The mental stress I think would be pretty difficult for a lady to deal with in a practical fashion. I just don’t think they have aptitude to win a Formula 1 race.”

Does he have a point?

While five women have raced in Formula 1, only one has scored a point. Sir Stirling, meanwhile, is known as the greatest driver never to have won a world championship. But Williams development driver Susie Wolff disagrees. “It makes me cringe hearing that,” she said. “For Moss, it’s unbelievable that a female would drive a Formula 1 car, which is fair enough. In the days they were racing, every time they stepped into a car they were putting their life on the line. But F1 is much more technologically advanced, it’s much safer than it was.”

And what did Bernie Ecclestone have to say?

The business magnate said there was no reason why a woman shouldn’t be able to compete with a man, although he doesn’t envision it happening in the near future. “Unfortunately, the way things are, I don’t imagine a lady will ever get the chance to drive a Red Bull [car] or a Ferrari,” he said.

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