Lia Block signs with Williams: once in a lifetime opportunity

Columns: From Kart to F1
It is not our habit to revive "social network controversies". Sometimes, however, taken with due caution, some considerations deserve further investigation. The case is that of Lia Block in F1 Academy next year with Williams colors. (fm)

On these pages you have always found great transport and enthusiasm when it comes to genders and how absurd it is, thirty years after the exploits of Lotta Helberg and Sophie Kumpen (for many, just "Max's mom") that at the top of the pyramid, women have not yet arrived in motorsport - catwalks and occasional tests aside: here we are talking about drivers capable of winning a GP, in a sport where in fact - as for few other disciplines in the world, see horse riding, there are no objective reasons that preclude a woman from being accepted. In our grassroots field, karting, the fact is consolidated, and no one is surprised when a girl competes in a race and wins like a male peer. Going up the pyramid, also due to a question of numbers, things change.
The leaders of F1 have thus decided to create intermediate access categories and the idea, in its essential features, is not to be thrown away: Marta Garcia is a great driver; she was already one on karts, in OK, where she beat people like Sargeant and the future world champions Noah Millel and Pescador. Rightly, next year she will have an opportunity in FRECA, which perhaps is also little compared to her potential and her age. But now the news is going around the world that Lia Block, the 17-year-old daughter of the late Ken Block, will be at the wheel of a single-seater from the ART Grand Prix team in the all-female preparatory series which is raced with F4 single-seaters. According to some, it would be yet another advertising 'shoot' to capture attention by exploiting a very popular name and appealing to the girl's "lack of experience" in single-seater and/or karting racing, who, at the moment, only has significant experience in rallying and in the autocross, battlefield and daily bread of her late father.
From Wiliams itself, the statements focused on the girl's alleged "natural talent", which is also an argument one might make and we don't want to snub it, because sometimes it's true that it's not so much the type of car that matters, but simply whether you know how to be fast, once in the cockpit. As always in issues "that divide the web fans" you can decide to be equidistant and take the luxury of not having an opinion until the track gives its verdicts: it is certainly early to go one way or the other. However, some considerations can be made, and they are of a general nature: on the one hand, indeed, natural talent does not need a decade of professional karting, losing the opportunity to attend school and have a normal social life from the age of 7 forward as happens today in karting, especially in the country we live in.
On the other hand, it is true that only karting, practiced at a certain level, can provide the training now necessary to drive a single-seater of those that launch towards F1 - as long as you can support it financially. Approaches to single-seaters that are not solely professional careers in karting are therefore welcome, but at the same time, it is advisable for those entering the world of Formula racing on the circuit to have the necessary training behind them - and never before as in 2023 have we witnessed very serious accidents in F4 and FRECA, often due to the carelessness, inexperience or unscrupulous driving style of many very young drivers. In this specific case, the girl does have experience behind the wheel, but of a completely different kind compared to the single-seater races and circuits that she will face in her new season and this is also an element that makes one think.
It is those who hold the reins of motorsport who are responsible for monitoring this aspect, and we hope that competent and experienced people make the choices that need to be made. For the moment we therefore wish Lia Block every success in this new experience, without forgetting the many girls who are working hard in karting to emerge...


Created by: fmarangon2 - 15/11/23

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