Formula Equal: Familiar name from the past leads new F1 project

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A familiar name from F1's past is spearheading an effort called Formula Equal that aims to enter Formula 1 in the future with a 50/50 gender parity outfit.

Craig Pollock - the man who put together the BAR F1 team and who acted as its team principal from 1999 to 2002 - is the initiator of an innovative project that has responded to the FIA's 'Expression of Interest' selection process that could see two new teams join the grid in the future

Pollock's bold idea relies on a 50/50 male-female workforce across the team's entire organization, from the engineering department to the boardroom and eventually to the cockpit.

"This has been going on for close on four years, the building up of a brand new Formula 1 team, but taking into it our ambition to deliver and build opportunities and pathways for women to get to the very top level inside motorsports," Pollock told CNN.

"The concept and the idea was to try and build a Formula 1 team that is 50% male, 50% female, which is extremely hard to do if you have an existing Formula 1 team. This is a lot easier with a clean sheet."

Pollock highlighted the importance of gender equality stretching across the whole team, including to the cockpit.

"I think it'd be absolutely fantastic [to have a female driver]," Pollock explained.

"But the reality is to be able to get into the cockpit of a Formula 1 car, you've got to have a certain number of points on your superlicence.

Williams development driver Jamie Chadwick

"I can't put my hand in my heart and say yes, but we are keeping a very close eye on it. I just hope for the women that this is the case.

"But to make this very clear, this is not just about women driving Formula 1 cars. This is about throughout the team; we want it even up to the board level if we can do that. We would like to have a gender equal Formula 1 team going forward."

Pollocks ambitions to have Formula Equal up and running in time for the 2026 season. Amid the sport's push for diversity and equality, the Scot's endeavor is likely to get the FIA's full attention.

However, populating a fully fledged F1 team with a 50/50 gender parity suggests that motorsport's usual human resources can support such an idea, which is not currently the case.

"We know that we are going to have to go through our academy systems," explains Pollock.

"We know we’re going to have to build it up because there are not enough women at the moment who are trained up to the level of Formula One and they’ve got to earn a place in there at the same time."

Ruth Buscombe, Alfa Romeo F1 Head of Race Strategy

Among the FIA's assessments during its selection process is the team's ability to secure the proper funding for its effort. Last year, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff estimated at $1 billion the cost of setting up a new outfit.

Pollock was coy on his prospective team's funding issue, but appeared confident in securing a significant investment from the Middle-East.

"We are in intense discussions with I would just say a Gulf area country," said the former manager of Jacques Villeneuve.

"I’m not really in the position to talk about that and be fully open about it at this present time – that will come out in the very near future. And I just hope it’s going to work because … it does take a lot of money."

Interestingly, Pollock suggested that it was his venture's concept that attracted the interest of his potential benefactors, the Scot also hinting at the team being based in the Gulf.

"Obviously that is linked to equality, diversity, inclusion, and sustainability," he said. "This is not a question of me going to them [the Gulf state].

"In reality, it’s them having come to us because we have a turnkey operation with the business plan, with all the costings, with everything ready to go.

"This has to be built from the bottom up in a Gulf state and this is what we are aiming to do. This is a long-term project – this is not short-term."

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