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Ski racer Vonn claims she was offered Red Bull F1 drive

NEWS STORY
19/10/2020

In an interview which some might consider could set women's hopes of racing in the 'pinnacle of motorsport' back twenty years, World Cup alpine ski racer, Lindsey Vonn claims she was offered an F1 drive with Red Bull, but that she was unwilling to commit to not getting pregnant.

The American won four World Cup overall championships with the US Ski Team - one of only two female skiers to do so - and a gold medal in downhill at the 2010 Winter Olympics - the first for an American woman - and a whole host of others in a career that spanned over two decades and was eventually brought to an end by injury.

In an episode of In Depth with Graham Bensinger, as well as shedding light on her various injuries, Vonn claims that she was forced to reject the offer of an F1 seat at Red Bull.

Interviewed while driving Bensinger, when asked if she has ever driven a racing car, Vonn reveals: "Yeh in Spielberg, in Austria, on a Formula One track.

"I loved it," she says of driving a Formula Renault 3.5 on the track in 2016 (pictured), "but I had a tendency to go a little too fast in the corners.

"I thought, 'mmm, I shouldn't mess this car up, because it's several million dollars," she laughs.

"I almost... I was thinking about switching... to go into Formula One," she reveals.

"What do you mean?" asks Bensinger.

"Actually try to be a racer... a driver," she replies. "I couldn't," she continues, "because they wanted me to commit to three years, and like, you can't get pregnant, you can't do anything. I thought, 'mmm I don't know if I really want to do that'," she tells Bensinger who appears incredulous that she was told she couldn't get pregnant.

"They said, you have to fully commit," she says, "and I said why do I have to fully commit, and I'm like, 'okay, I guess I'm not doing that," she laughs. "But that was definitely going to be, something that would be very exciting for me, personally. I would love to do that.

"What team would it have been with?" asks Bensinger.

"With Red Bull," she replies. "And they're like, 'if you don't make it in Formula One you can always do NASCAR'.

"The amount of money Formula One has," she continues. "I mean, I think probably the salary of one racer is probably the total amount of money that Ski racing has for their annual budget. As a sport, I guess Lewis (Hamilton) makes way more money than all of Ski racing."

During the drive, Vonn's fiancÚ, New Jersey Devils defenceman P. K. Subban calls, and when asked about her ambition to race in F1, replies, "she obviously would practice her driving more, but one hundred percent she could do F1 racing, she's crazy, she's nuts, she would do it, she wouldn't be scared at all."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Egalitarian, 21/10/2020 2:24

"I reckon @Willy56 is on the money with their comment."

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2. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 20/10/2020 19:46

"I see some merit in this, but being put into Red Bull's program and getting to F1 are two different things. Scott Speed go to F1, but didn't do so well."

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3. Posted by PGS, 20/10/2020 4:43

"Aaaaannnnd....bullshit."

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4. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 19/10/2020 19:52

"Notice that the vast majority of those racing into their late 40's and 50's in F1 occurred in the 1950's. Very few winners have been in their 40's since the 70's. Fangio's career was in the 50's. Brabbham's career was mostly in the 60's, with his final race in 1970. Modern F1 cars are so much more intense to drive than those from the 1950's and 1960's that age is an ever bigger issue in success in F1. I mean a Honda Civic Type R can lap the Nordschlife at the same speed as the 1969 F1 pole time on the same track.

Could Vonn have broken into F1 in her mid-30's having never driven a race car before 32? Well, I suppose it possible. But the likelihood that even Kimi Raikkonen could have pulled that off is pretty small. Kimi came into F1 with only 1-2 seasons in junior formulas, and no other racing background, but he was also in his late teens or early 20's at the time. He also obviously had a massive talent that is a 1 in 100million or more kind of occurrence. Vonn would have had to be on an even higher level of raw racing talent to make that leap at that age. In the 60's, or maybe even the 70's, sexism aside, it would have been more doable. Still very, very hard though."

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5. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 19/10/2020 17:38

"I'm not sure to take this too seriously to be honest.
I'm trying to read this article as Tsunoda would: All this effort all these backers all this time... yet someone out of racing could have just been picked ahead of me?
Then again, that's the life of a racing driver; there is an abundance of talent leading up to say F2 level, then things get extremely tough if they are in the wrong team at the wrong time.

Regarding @chickenfarmerf1's comments on driver age.
While it is true we all lose our edge as we age, Fangio won championships after 40, I think and Sir Jack Brabham even doned a beard and cane to the grid to make a point late in his great career.

I guess it's all about talent, tenacity, opportunity (finance) and timing (right place, right time).

Oh, and clearly, marketability going by this article.

Who knows if Miss Vonn would have been any good as a race driver?

It would have been interesting to see how a top performer in one sport could cross over."

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6. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 19/10/2020 15:45

"It's possible she was offered the chance by Red Bull to work her way up the racing ladder to F1. If they actually offered anything more than that it's nothing more than a publicity stunt. She's 36. 4 years ago, obviously, she'd have been 32. That is too old, even for a guy, to break into F1. Most are out of racing F1 by 36. A few, like Kimi stick around longer, but F1 is a game played best before 35. Lewis is 1 year younger than her, but he's been racing cars/karts since before puberty. He is so far above the already incredible skills of the rest of the field that he can keep dominating for a while yet. But even he is quickly closing in on his "Best Before" date. I'd be surprised to see Lewis still in F1 after the 2025 season."

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7. Posted by Willy56, 19/10/2020 13:29

"I call Bulls%&t!
Not a chance any F1 team would put this idiot in a car. Just another American spreading false news to get press."

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8. Posted by Superbird70, 19/10/2020 12:39

"So if this is true, at the time there were no other qualified female racers available? It's not like picking up golf when you retire."

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9. Posted by Batman, 19/10/2020 12:32

"Now I think i'm getting a hint how Red Bull's Lord High Executioner choose the candidates."

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10. Posted by Max Noble, 19/10/2020 12:22

"So.... a lovely lady who currently has no children... was told *four* years ago that she had to commit to not having kids for *three* years... Ok... does not look like that would have caused a major train wreck with her life plans... in the event Red Bull ever said that... any of that..."

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11. Posted by Nogbad, 19/10/2020 11:13

"I assume they also told her that she’d need to learn to drive a racing car, compete in junior formula *and* get a superlicence to compete in F1. Is that even possible in three years with no background?"

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12. Posted by Wokingchap, 19/10/2020 10:10

"Just what F1 needs, a driver who is crazy and nuts.... hmmm."

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13. Posted by Roli, 19/10/2020 9:21

"what a shame she didnt take up the offer....."

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