Germany are known for producing some of the greatest racers in history, boasting F1 World Championship winning drivers and constructors. One person hoping to continue this is Sophia Floersch. A 17-year-old with immense determination and hoping to be the first female F1 World Champion, she is becoming a real contender to be the next woman to race in the series since Giovanna Amati in the 1990s. I spoke to her about her career so far and hopes for the future.
Although Sophia may be young, she has been racing since she was very small. “I came into motorsport with my Dad,” she said. “I did my first race when I was 5 (years old) near Munich, after that, I never really stopped. It was like a drug to me, you’re not able to stop it.” Despite starting from a young age, she spoke of how you never stop learning saying: “it’s like being at school because you learn everything. You go from small karts in karting, then in the formulae it just gets bigger and faster.”
As would be expected, there weren’t many girls when Floersch was learning her craft, however it turned out to be a major motivator for the German. “The reason I kept doing the sport was because at the track where I used to go at the weekend there was one older girl, who was 4 years older than me,” she explained. “It was nice because I had a friend there, we drove together and after the sessions we would go out. She was one motivation when I was 5 to 8 years old.” The value of role models and people to look up to is often underestimated but for Sophia, to see another girl also racing gave her the confidence to continue with what she loved.
She really wants to be an example for others in the way someone was for her. This year Sophia attended the ‘Dare to be Different’ launch in Germany as a way of helping youngsters. Describing the experience, she said: “I love kids and one main problem with the sport is that there are not enough girls doing it. If I’m going to be in F1 one day, I also want to support little girls and show them that it’s also possible as a girl to be in F1.” It is clear that the highest series of motorsport is her priority, describing it as a “dream come true” if she was to get there, adding: “I just need the right people in the right moment, enough sponsors to really make it, and a bit of luck. I really hope it will be as soon as possible.”
Nevertheless, at this moment her focus is on her education, meaning her plan to get to F1 in 2020 has had to be pushed back slightly. “I’m still going to school and I graduate in May next year” she told me. “I have a lot of exams and so we decided to do F4 again next year. If you do F3, you have to do it properly.” Unfortunately, Floersch just doesn’t have the time to commit to all the testing needed for Formula 3 in the 2018 season, though her commitment to education is something that others could learn from and is another reason why she is such a brilliant role model to younger girls.
Sophia also has some advice for those youngsters she wants to inspire. “Sometimes it’s really difficult as a girl in motorsport because there’s so many guys,” she explained. “You really need to have balls sometimes because there’s so many men who say it’s not possible for women because it’s a man’s sport. It’s all about believing in yourself.” “For me, it’s always important to show the guys that I’m not girly on the racetrack but when I get out of the car, I’m a normal girl. I love painting my nails!”
But who are the people the German herself looks up to? Speaking about them she said: “my idol is Lewis Hamilton for racing, not just because he’s world champion! For me, I like his personality because he’s a cool guy, he’s just him. Then when he gets in the car he’s like 2 times faster than Nico Rosberg, I think it shows just how good Lewis is.” Outside of racing, she also looks up to Lindsey Vonn saying “I like her character and how she trains, I think she’s a good sportswoman.”
I finished by asking Sophia about her competitors and who she thought has the most potential to also make it to Formula One. “For sure Lando Norris” she declared. “I think he’s going to make it, it’s not looking that bad for him. What he’s shown the last few years, especially this year in F3 was amazing. He really deserves it as well.” Continuing she spoke about the “whole package” you must bring including the ability to communicate well with a team, work with the media and perform on the racetrack.
Another driver she believes is destined for big things and who is aggressive in his performance on the racetrack is Dan Ticktum. Speaking of the Brit she said: “he’s very aggressive and he knows what he wants. I’ve known him since we were 12 years old and even then, he knew what he wanted.” She went on to reiterate that there are many good drivers who have the talent to go onto bigger things, though the 2 mentioned were Floersch’s biggest tips for future success.
Sophia Floersch may not be a name you’ve heard before, but it’s certainly a name you will hear more about in the future. Her determination, aggression and skill are what define her as an incredible racer and an exceptional example to other girls. She has already accomplished a lot being the first female to score points in Formula 4 and the youngest person to win a Ginetta Junior race, and she doesn’t plan to stop breaking records there. So F1 drivers, watch your back! The next female driver may not be too far away.
(heading picture credit: motorsport.com)