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New Zealand

Teenage driver gets big break on road to F1

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Women haven’t raced in F1 in 44 years, but that doesn’t stop young drivers like Kiwi Bree Morris from wanting to break down barriers. Starting in NZ’s Grand Prix class, she’s on her way, she told her Suzanne McFadden.

When Bree Morris graduated from high school last year and was faced with the traditional question, “What are you going to do next?” ‘ she said.

Turning 18, there was no doubt in her mind that she could have a career as a professional race car driver.

And as she said, Morris is on track and this season the Toyota Racing Series (TRS) is the premier single-seater class in the country. She will be one step closer to her goal of driving on the world stage within the next few years.

Morris becomes the seventh female driver to break into the series. But the Oakland girl, who started driving a cart at the age of 10, doesn’t think it’s anything special for a woman to get behind the wheel.

“I don’t really know the difference between male and female drivers. Yeah, I know there aren’t that many female drivers in the sport, but I grew up in a generation where that’s not surprising to me.” she says.

“There are always people who think you’re a man. I’ve heard people ask my father: ‘So how old is your son?’

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Globally, only 1.5% of licensed motorsport drivers are women.

“Gender doesn’t matter. Anyone with the talent has the right to drive these cars,” says Morris.

Bree Morris wants to be race fit for the TRS series starting in mid-January. Photo: Toyota GAZOO Racing NZ

It’s a hot topic in motorsport right now. Why have there been no female drivers in F1 since Leila Lombardi in 1976?

There is absolutely no lack of strength.

2019 Michigan State University Research There is evidence that female drivers respond and react in the same way as male drivers on the track, even if they have less than 10 years of experience.

According to Associate Professor David Ferguson, there was a misconception that women in certain phases of their menstrual cycle could potentially tire more quickly and be a safety risk to other drivers. , indicating that it is not true.

Research has proven that driving a race car is equally stressful for both female and male drivers.

Morris admits his only worry about attending TRS, which starts at Highlands Motorsports Park on January 13 and includes the NZ Grand Prix, is not enough time for testing in the cutting-edge FT-60 race. I’m here. car.

Even at 18, she knows that being fit to race in these cars is far more important than being physically fit.

The “wings and slicks” car — wings for aerodynamics and full slicks for speed — is faster and harder to drive than the Formula Ford cars Morris has driven the past two seasons (she’s the current North Islander). champion).

“The FT-60 is very heavy to drive. But the problem is, why can’t women drive these cars,” she says.

“Let’s say a guy in a gym can bench press 80kg. I can only bench press 20kg. Their 80kg bench press isn’t going anywhere in that car. You need strength in the car, but gym You will never get it.

“Certainly there is no way to get the strength to drive these cars without going to the gym. can be obtained.”

Morris’ challenge over the next six weeks will be to set good track times, but probably raced five consecutive weekends in the FT-50, an early incarnation of the car she drives during the series. .

Bree Morris test drives the FT-60 at Hampton Downs Motorsports Park. Photo: Toyota GAZOO Racing NZ

Morris knows that means driving at least 100 laps a day on the track. “You go in, get dressed, take a break, come back, and it takes a full day,” she says.

“But to be honest, I’d rather drive 100 laps than go to the gym for an hour.”

Morris is also seeking final funding for a $200,000 campaign. “I need a little more help,” she says.

She quit her job at a local supermarket a few months ago so she could focus on securing her start at TRS. “Opportunities like TRS aren’t just for you,” she says. “I spent three months of hard work on her.”

It was with a generous grant from the Tony Quinn Foundation that Morris crossed the line. The foundation will support Hunter McElrea, who has just won the ‘Rookie of the Year’ title in the American Indy Lights, and Liam Lawson, who took his four wins in Formula 2 this season and drove Max Verstappen’s Formula 1 car. and more to help young New Zealand drivers achieve their dreams. At the opening practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last month.

Morris will represent both the Foundation and the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy during TRS. Academy chief her instructor and two-time TRS her champion Daniel Gaunt has coached Morris, calling Morris “the best female driver I’ve ever seen at this stage of her career. ” is expressed.

Other New Zealand motorsport officials cannot speak highly enough of Morris’ talent and desire to succeed.

McLaren XE co-drivers Tanner Faust and Emma Gilmour celebrate finishing 2nd in the Energy X Prefinal

New Zealand rally driver Emma Gilmore was one of Morris’ first female drivers to look up to. Gilmour made history last month by becoming the first female McLaren driver to take a podium at the final Extreme Her E her event of the season in Uruguay.

“It’s amazing what she’s doing,” Morris says. She said, “She will message me on Instagram. She will definitely support me in my race.”

Gilmour is equally impressed with Morris’ progress. She’s “very excited about Bree and her opportunity at TRS,” Gilmore says. “She has a lot of talent and it’s great to have her experience in her home country. She can’t wait to root for her.”

Morris has only vague memories of his first time behind the wheel during an intense day at the age of ten on the Mount Wellington kart track.

“The next minute my dad was driving home from Christchurch Racing Speedway with a go-kart in the back of a little trailer,” she says. Her father, Steve, has been her right-hand man throughout her career so far.

By age 12, Morris had made a name for himself on the karting scene, winning the Vortex Mini ROK class in New Zealand. This allowed her to travel to Milan over the weekend to compete in her ROK her Cup her Italian series. It gave Morris a little experience of her driving abroad and realized that motor racing could become an important part of her life.

She was one of those kids who tried their parents’ mobility in as many sports as possible including netball, football, rugby sevens, touch and flipper ball. However, when she won her first domestic kart her title in 2016, she released almost all of her code.

All but netball, which Morris continued to play for years at Westlake Girls’ High School. “But my knees definitely didn’t like that game,” she says.

From karting to single-seater racing in Formula Vee, he made the next step to Formula Ford two seasons ago.

“I enjoyed the karting so much that I felt that the single-seater was more relevant to that kind of driving than the tin top,” she says. You can drive a tin top on the road every day.”

Bree Morris is already seen as a role model for young Kiwi girls in karting. Photo: Toyota GAZOO Racing NZ

Like most young women who enter single-seater racing, breaking barriers and entering Formula 1 is the ultimate goal for Morris.

“It took Liam Lawson five years to get to F1. After my second TRS, I want to race abroad next year. And the next year I’m on my way there, right?” increase.

She hit the straps at just the right time with a new initiative to help women drivers reach the pinnacle of motorsport.

Formula One has launched an F1 Academy. This is her all-female racing series for her 15 young drivers scheduled to start next year and will serve as a starting point to help them develop the skills to race in Formula 3. .

The academy is seen as another route for young women alongside the W series, which has been hampered by financial difficulties after three seasons.

Sophia Floersch is outspoken about her feelings about women entering F1

There remains much criticism that the male-dominated environment in F1 makes it difficult for women to break through. He said that there is an increasing number of generations who do not admit to succeeding in the field.

“There’s this image that a tough, sweaty, combat-ready racing driver has to be male. It doesn’t change in their eyes,” she says.

Morris wants to be seen as a driver who made a career out of racing.

“You can put me in F1, you can put me in IndyCar, you can put me in anything as long as it’s my career,” she says.

“Because that’s why I get out of bed every morning.”

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/lockerroom/teen-drivers-big-break-on-her-track-to-f1 Teenage driver gets big break on road to F1

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