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How a cycling stalwart will use Olympic experience to boost female drivers

How a cycling stalwart will use Olympic experience to boost female drivers

Joining the initiative from British Cycling, where he has been Head of Performance Pathways for the past five years, Stanton has extensive experience in developing elite talent.

But he’ll be swapping two wheels for four in his new role, working alongside Hintsa Performance to deliver this programme, which is now focusing on choosing the first group of young drivers to work with.

More than Equal aims to help identify, develop and support female participation in motorsport, and was founded by 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard.

It has already undertaken significant work to design the structure of the programme, intended to offer tailored support for a cohort of young female drivers as opposed to a vast majority of motorsport’s current elite athlete training that focuses solely on male drivers.

Stanton, who will spearhead the team, has spent 20 years as part of the Olympic and Paralympic system in the UK.

He has operated in several different roles, from being a practitioner on the ground as well as a coach, right through to being a performance leader in both sport science and as the Head of Academy at British Cycling.

But what attracted him to the world of motorsport and More than Equal, and how will that experience feed into his new role?

“It’s different from anything I’ve done before,” he said. “The opportunity to take the knowledge that I’ve gained from working in the Olympic and Paralympic system and apply it to a system that’s relatively undeveloped felt like a challenge I couldn’t ignore.

“Whether it’s on two legs or on four wheels, the principles are the same. You’re trying to maximise people’s potential and that’s an exciting opportunity to do something in a new field.

“The chance to work with More than Equal, who are going to be pioneers in this space, was really something that I couldn’t pass up.”

More than Equal Advisory Board member Kate Beavan, Entrepreneur Karel Komarek, David Coulthard, Hintsa CEO Annastiina Hintsa

Photo by: Right Formula

More than Equal Advisory Board member Kate Beavan, Entrepreneur Karel Komarek, David Coulthard, Hintsa CEO Annastiina Hintsa

He continued: “I think what sets More than Equal apart is that we’re going to be focusing on the driver themselves, which means we will be looking at what they do out of the car just as much as what they do in it.

“We’ll of course provide technical and tactical coaching alongside physical preparation and physical development but there is a strong focus for us on developing our talent in other ways too.

“We’re working with lots of excellent people in this programme, including the leading evidence-based coaching group Hintsa, who are the go-to people for performance and performance development in elite motorsport.”

Hintsa will be key to More than Equal’s aims. The Finnish performance specialist has worked with multiple F1 world champions, including Lewis Hamilton, and is the world’s leading, evidence-based coaching company.

Stanton’s Driver Development Programme team, including in-house coaches to be announced, and Hintsa will work collaboratively to identify the female talent pool before supporting drivers to find racing opportunities, technical and tactical coaching, physical and cognitive preparation, commercial opportunity and personal brand development.

Giving a brief overview of the programme’s core principles, he said: “The aim of the programme is to use data and insight to identify young, talented female drivers globally, and to provide the tools and resources they need to develop into elite racing drivers.

“We will focus not just on technical and tactical coaching and physical preparation, but also place a significant emphasis on personal development.

“The first three years are going to centre around building the high-quality skill sets that the drivers need so that we can help them to become the best learners possible so when they are presented with opportunities, they can grab hold of them with both hands and be successful.

“We want to build a programme that is specifically designed for young female drivers who are showing potential but who require support to take them to the next level.”

Tom Stanton, More than Equal

Photo by: More than Equal

Tom Stanton, More than Equal

Stanton added: “There are lots of support programmes and initiatives that are supporting female drivers, but in terms of working with that younger age group and developing them in an age and gender appropriate way, with independent funding, we believe nothing has ever been done like that before.

“We’re really excited about the prospect of taking all the intelligence that we have around how, when and what, to develop female drivers and to put it into a programme that’s just for them.

“We will be working alongside Hintsa so that their technical knowledge in performance and development alongside our knowledge of how to develop drivers will form a package that’s accessible and can accelerate the performance and preparation.”

Part of the More than Equal Driver Development Programme’s goal is to help bridge the gender performance gap. A recent report by More than Equal explored the data involving women and girls in motorsport and identified two key challenges for female drivers – the participation gap and the performance gap.

The performance gap was highlighted by the fact that their research found that women currently represent on average just 10% across all categories of competition, with the highest in karting – a format that contributes 40% of overall female participation.

As current female drivers continue to compete, they are not progressing at the same rate into the top talent rankings, where female drivers represent a tiny percentage – currently just 4%.

But Stanton said the programme can bridge that gap by “making our female drivers the best learners possible.”

He added: “We’re going to make them physically capable; we’re going to make them mentally prepared, but we’re also going to make sure that technically and tactically, they can be the best in the world.

“Our vision is that over time, we will have developed a system that is the best place for young female driver development to occur.”

More than Equal is currently running a data-led global talent search for the first cohort of drivers, with the public application phase launching in early 2024.

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