Cotswold racing ace just back from trade mission to India with PM
COTSWOLD race ace Alice Powell has acquired a heavyweight ally in her bid to become a Formula 1 driver – Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Formula Renault BARC champion in 2010 lives five minutes away from the PM in Chipping Norton – well, at the speed she drives – and button-holed him at a local conservative party dinner in Oxfordshire last summer.
“It was about the time of the British Grand Prix and I had just featured on BBC Oxford so he was aware of me,” said Alice. “He agreed that it would be great for GB to have a woman in the seat of a F1 car and said he would see what he could do.”
The PM has been as good as his word.
Three weeks ago, Alice received a call from 10 Downing Street inviting her to join a UK trade mission to India. At 20, she was the youngest of more than 100 delegates who flew out with the PM.
“I was able to do a lot of networking and promote my current sponsors as well as women in sport and British motorsport in general,” said Alice, who had only just returned from racing in India.
She visited Hindustan Unilever in Mumbai, attended a BP-hosted conference and ended her stay with a visit to the Golden Temple.
Another highlight was the party to celebrate the Queen’s birthday (early) at the British High Commission in New Delhi, with more than 2,000 people attending.
Alice has returned to the UK to continue her pursuit of potential sponsors. Despite her success in motor racing so far she has yet to secure a drive in 2013.
“At my level, motor sport is still self-funded and it looks like I will have to give up my seat in the Status Grand Prix 3 team unless I can find another £200,000,” she said.
“I have already missed some testing and three other people are now testing for my seat, but I am told I can have it back if I can make up the financial shortfall.
“Motor racing is obviously very expensive. At the next level, GP2, the budget would be between £1.5m and £2m.
“It is not just a girl thing, it is about money. My dad is a builder and we can’t compete with the men drivers whose fathers are bankers or financiers and can back them with family money.
“We do have a Plan B, to drop back to Formula 3, although I am holding out as long as possible for a GP3 drive.”
Alice continues to draw inspiration from Danica Patrick, a rare world class female driver at the top end of motorsport, who recently earned a pole position at the Nascar Daytona 500.
“I would love to slipstream Danica’s success,” said Alice.
“She is doing a great job of raising the profile of women in motor sport.
“Her Nascar merchandise easily outsells all the other drivers and since she has joined Nascar racing I believe the TV viewing figures have gone up by 20 per cent.”
Away from the racetrack, Alice can indulge in one of her other sporting passions – hockey.
She trains every Wednesday evening with the Bourton & Sherborne Club on the astroturf at the Cotswold School, where she was a pupil, and plays matches on a Saturday.
“I play in midfield and that involves a lot or running which is great for my fitness programme,” she said.
Last weekend, it was the big local derby away at serial rivals Blockley. Don’t mention the result, however, as the hosts edged a tight game 1-0.
If you have any sponsorship ideas for Alice, you can find her on Twitter @alicepowell.