Facing challenges on her own

Facing challenges on her own

The only novelty is the birthday. Everything else is all part of the job for the only female mechanic in a sport seen by many outsiders as testosterone-fuelled, hairy-chested and irredeemably macho.

It is not something that fazes the Briton in the slightest. "To be honest I don't really think of myself as the only girl," she said, breaking off from assembling a front wing in the Lotus garages on a busy Thursday afternoon at the Turkish Grand Prix. |

"I'm just a mechanic doing my job and gender doesn't really come into it. It's never been an issue to date and hopefully not in the future."

Scott, 'Tony' to her team-mates, arrived at F1 newcomers Lotus after making her debut as a race mechanic at the Germany-based Toyota team last season before the Japanese manufacturer pulled out. "When I applied for a racing and testing position, it said (on the form) male or female. So it can't be that macho can it?," she said.

Cold-shouldered by some colleagues at Toyota, she was able to clear up any misunderstandings swiftly enough when they were reunited at British-based Lotus. "Some of the English guys have apologised to me this year," she explained with a smile.
"They said 'Sorry, we didn't talk to you (at Toyota). We thought you were German'. It wasn't the fact that I was female, it was the fact that they thought I was German instead of English."

From a motor racing family, with a father who still holds the lap record at Donington Park for special saloon car racing and a younger brother competing in Formula Ford, Scott always knew what she wanted to do.

After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from Nottingham University, she had no doubt about where to seek employment. "It was always F1," she said. "It's changed through various roles. At first it started off as an Adrian Newey-style aerodynamicist and then designer. Then when I came to actually applying for jobs, they said go and get some practical experience.

"I kind of fell into the more hands-on side and I really enjoy it. I've actually been offered several opportunities to go on a more design side but this is way more fun. It is male-dominated, but nothing that would put me off," added Scott.

"It's quite amusing when the grid girls come around the garage and we have celebrities with not a lot of clothing on and the guys are all like 'ah,..." and talking about them really kind of sexually.

"I guess because I've worked around men for such a long time now, I just kind of go 'Oh, I'll have a look'. "Oh yeah, she's nice." But I never really directly compare them with myself because I'm just here doing my job."

Mechanics are renowned for working hard and playing hard and Scott, while clearly not one of the boys with her make-up and mascara, is no exception. Some of the haunts involved may not be of the kind usually frequented by young ladies, but she gets along. "I have been described as the ringleader," she smiled. "It can be quite raucous and you do have to know your limits. I generally base the decision on how much I drink on what time we have to get to the track in the morning."

Her responsibility during the race is to remove the front right wheel in a pitstop that takes only a few seconds. "The first time you do it, your heart beats out of your chest. It's just absolutely nerve-racking. and then you realise that it's just another function, a kind of a cool one," she said.





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