Louise Goodman is known as one the first female faces of Formula 1, having been involved in motorsport media since the late 1980s and becoming a familiar sight along the Formula 1 pit lane. Her first appearance was in the 1988 Mexican Grand Prix through PR duties with Camel, then a Formula 1 Sponsor. Following this, she was the Press Officer for Leyton House Formula 1 Team, before heading the Communications department at the Jordan Grand Prix Racing Team between 1992 and 1996. She rose to fame as a pit lane reporter for ITV when they had the rights to show Formula 1 races in the UK between 1997 and 2008. She was also active behind the wheel, competing in several rally races. Now, she has her own media company, Goodman Media, and continues to present at ITV for the British Touring Car Championship.
Louise Goodman became the first woman to take part in a Formula 1 Pit Stop in the 2006 British Grand Prix when she was in charge of taking the rear left wheel off Tiago Monteiro’s car, whilst he was driving for Midland. This was for an ITV feature which took a closer look at the car and the mechanics, and so Louise decided to be involved in a pit stop directly. Originally, she trained with Honda for several months and was supposed to take off Jenson Button’s rear left wheel, but a week before the race, she received a call saying Honda had changed their mind about including her in the pit stop. Luckily, she contacted Midland (who were previously Jordan Grand Prix) and they accepted. Incidentally, Button never made it to his first pit stop as he suffered an oil leak. Formula 1 cars can be very different across manufacturers, so she had to retrain on the Midland M16 car in just one week. Goodman was undeniably nervous – things could easily go wrong, and she did not want to let the team down. Working on the technical side of motorsport is fast-paced and the importance of functioning as one body in the team is imperative. Monteiro’s pit stop was brief and successful.
Throughout her career, Goodman has managed media coverage for multiple car manufacturers, sponsors, and drivers, including Mika Hakkinen, Martin Brundle, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello, and more. Back when she started in the 80s, media coverage for Formula 1 was considerably a lesser affair, with perhaps one or two people responsible for PR and media. Since then, media coverage has grown considerably and so have the racing teams. However, the number of women is still relatively low. Whilst she was a pit lane reporter with ITV’s Formula 1 coverage, she worked alongside James Allen, Ted Kravitz, and Martin Brundle – names which are still connected to Formula 1, yet she was the only woman in the core media team. Traditionally, women in motorsport were involved more in marketing and press operations, although recently, there have been more women involved in the technical side. But is the number of women in motorsport high enough?
Picturing today’s Formula 1 grid, it is obvious that this is still a male-dominated sport. The first woman to compete in a Formula 1 Race was Maria Teresa De Filippis in 1958, whilst the last one, at the time of writing, was Giovanna Amati in 1992. Lella Lombardi remains the only woman to score points in Formula 1 in 1975. Other women have participated as test and development drivers. Most notably, Scottish driver Susie Wolff tested in 2012 with Williams, the first female appearance in a Formula 1 race weekend in 22 years, and Jamie Chadwick in 2019, again with Williams. Chadwick later won the W Series championship three years in a row. The W Series is the all-female single-seater racing championship counterpart to Formula 1. Yet, this year’s championship was cut two-races short due to financial difficulties, indicating that unfortunately, this championship does not have enough interest to generate the amount of budgeting and sponsorship that Formula 1 attracts. The W Series has also received backlash from opponents who argue that rather than encouraging the admission of female racers in established series, this championship is segregating women.
Ultimately, for more women to be involved in motorsport, there needs to be a bigger push from an earlier age. Most women involved in motorsport have family connections. The majority of drivers, men included, start their careers thanks to parents who take them karting at a young age. Yet not many parents would think of taking their daughter go-karting. On the technical side, the mechanics are chosen from some of the best available, and unfortunately, the pool is still very male-dominated. HESA reports that in the 2020/21 academic year, 20% of engineering students in Higher Education were female . In addition, WES reports that women make up 16.5% of the people employed in engineering roles in the UK . Although increasing, there is still more to be done to encourage equal opportunities in engineering and STEM across the genders.
Women like Louise Goodman are essential to encouraging more girls to develop an interest in motorsport. Together with Susie Wolff’s Dare to Be Different organisation, Goodman has been involved in the FIA Girls on Track initiative which aims to promote all the different roles that are available in motorsport. It helps young women experience motorsport and increase their confidence. Hannah Schmitz, Red Bull Racing’s current Principal Strategy Engineer is an example of how women can get to the top spots of motorsport with dedication and confidence. Working in motorsport, and especially succeeding at its pinnacle in Formula 1, requires hard work and commitment; it becomes a way of life with races during weekends, all over the world. Nevertheless, it can be an extremely rewarding career and it is inspiring to see these successful women, despite their low numbers.
First Women is now open at the Wardlaw Museum and the Laidlaw Music Centre.
First Women UK by Anita Corbin. 100 Portraits of 100 First Women to celebrate 100 years of women’s right to vote, created by photographer Anita Corbin over a decade and launched in 2018.
Written by Sharon Pisani, Visitor Services Facilitator and PhD student in the School of Computer Science of the University of St Andrews
 What do HE students study? (2022) HESA. Available at: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students/what-study.
 Useful statistics (2022) Women’s Engineering Society. Available at: https://www.wes.org.uk/content/wesstatistics.