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First woman to drive F1 car in Saudi Arabia says British parents tell kids ‘you can’t let a girl’ beat you

First woman to drive F1 car in Saudi Arabia says British parents tell kids ‘you can’t let a girl’ beat you

Alpine F1 academy drivers Abbi Pulling and Aseel Al Hamad were the first women to drive an F1 car in Saudi Arabia.

The first female to drive an F1 car in Saudi Arabia says dads need to stop telling their sons they shouldn't be letting girls beat them in a race.

Last year, academy driver Abbi Pulling was invited to the kingdom to take part in a demonstration to show that 'anyone with enough drive' can follow in her footsteps.

The 20-year-old joined another female racer, Aseel Al Hamad, for the historic moment in Saudi - a country where women have only been allowed to drive since 2018.

Aseel Al Hamad and Abbi Pulling become first women to drive an F1 car in Saudi Arabia.

"The statement of having two women driving an F1 car through the capital of Saudi Arabia, past treasured historic monuments and into the heart of the city, shows that anyone with enough drive can follow their dreams in motorsport," Alpine's CEO Laurent Rossi said at the time.

Even as a kid, Pulling was tipped to make it far. Aged 15, she became a British Karting Champion and was the first person to win Junior TKM titles back to back.

Fast forward to 2023, and Pulling is now a member of the Alpine Academy programme with her sights firmly set on reaching the pinnacle of motorsport, F1.

However, she acknowledges the challenges ahead as F1 continues to be a male-dominated space, with only five female drivers ever competing in its history. None have ever won a race.

She dismisses any ideas of sexism at the highest level, but admits that on social media, and at a junior level, a lot of work needs be done.

Abbi wants to reach the pinnacle of motorsport, F1.

"[Sexism] was more when I was in the junior categories and go-karting," Abbi told Tyla.

"It would be the dads who are a bit more old fashioned, telling their kids: 'you can't let that girl beat you'.

"You know, that's a 10 year old they're saying that to. That just then brings that negative attitude into their whole life. 'You can't let a girl beat you, you can't let a girl beat you'. That was that was the main thing I experienced, to be honest.

"So yeah, I mean, it did make it that much sweeter when I did beat them."

In 2022, F1 academy driver Abbi Pulling, 20, was invited by Saudi to take part in a demonstration, which showcased that 'anyone with enough drive' can follow their dreams.

Addressing the lack of women at the highest level, Abbi added: "I think it's just so male dominated because young girls, especially, maybe not so much now, but in past generations aren't really exposed to the sport.

"Their toys are pink and Barbies. In the boys section, they have cars and trucks and things like that. So I think I think it's just what they get exposed to.

"I think there's been the stigma of motorsport, that it isn't a place for females, and that it isn't a place where women can have a career. But in the last 10/20 years, it's changed massively."

Her ambition is to break into the male dominated pinnacle of motor racing and to break down barriers for all women in the sport.

She is 'dedicated to showing that a female can race at the highest levels of motorsport'.

Responding to Stefano Domenicalli's comments about the unlikelihood of women racing in F1 in the next five years, she's gone on the record saying: "It's definitely motivation to prove people wrong.

"If you look at my trajectory and if everything goes 100 percent perfect then there is the possibility to be in Formula 1 in five years.

"But it's a short period of time, I think if he had said ten years, I would absolutely disagree with him."

Tyla's Female First series celebrates women who were the first to achieve something special in their field.

Featured Image Credit: Supplied