Motor racing: Just let me race, please

Katherine Legge is used to charting new ground.

She was the first woman to test a Formula 1 car since Sarah Fisher (2002) when she drove for the Minardi team in 2005.

She also was the first woman to secure pole in the British Formula Ford Championship in 2000.

In 2006, the Briton (above) also became the first woman to lead a lap in series history in Champ Car.

This weekend, she will be one of two women who will be on the grid competing in the first race of the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing.

But Legge does not want to talk about breaking down barriers in the name of women.

All she wants to do is race.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Legge, who is part of Team Amlin Aguri, said: "I have been racing from the age of nine and I have always tried to do everything that the guys do, and do it just as well as them. I'm just a racing driver.

"People within racing go by results, not by gender. When you put on the helmet in the car, you don't seem any different."

Formula E is a new FIA single-seater championship and the world's first fully electric racing series. The inaugural championship will run from tomorrow to June 2015, with 10 teams doing battle across the globe, including stops, in Beijing, London, Miami, Buenos Aires and Putrajaya, Malaysia.

What sets Formula E apart from Formula 1 is at the pit stop.

The new race will involve a change of car where the driver will have to get out of one car and switch into a new fully charged car.

Races in Formula E run for 40 minutes but Legge, 34, says individual preparation has still been intense.

She added: "I have been doing a lot of driver-change practice, jumping in and out and sprinting from one car to another. It's more of technique than fitness but it leaves more room for errors where it's easy to lose seconds that you work very hard for."


The Englishwoman is optimistic about her team ahead of qualifying tomorrow.

"Racing is very much a team sport and, with the right team and equipment, there is no reason why we cannot win," she said.

We are not the fastest team on the grid yet but we are doing everything right to become the fastest team moving through the season"

Looking ahead, Legge believes Formula E could pioneer features that will improve cars on public roads.

"With ground-breaking technology, we can appeal to wider audiences while being cleaner and environmentally friendly," she said.

"The change from carbon-based fuel will benefit society and reduce air pollution... the quiet but powerful engine allows people to watch without damaging their hearing."

While she loves motor racing and follows Formula 1, she chooses to remain neutral in the battle between countryman Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The two Mercedes drivers are involved in a tense duel for the drivers' championship heading to next week's Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, and Legge said: "I don't really want to comment because I can see different perspectives from both sides but even within the press they do not have a total picture about what goes on behind close doors. It would be really unfair for me to comment since I don't have all the facts, either."

This article was first published on September 12, 2014.
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