Written by Alejandra Guajardo Lozano, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Women have played an influential role throughout the history of motor racing. Many have taken to the wheels of motorsport machines, while numerous figures have worked tirelessly on the sidelines in various roles, shaping the racing world to the present day. Woman Spotlight Wednesday aims to take a look at the tales of these superwomen, who have surpassed various hurdles to reach where they are today.
This week's article is focused on the smart woman behind Alfa Romeo´s strategy, Ruth Buscombe.
Ruth´s story started at the age of 11, when she gained a fascination for motorsport. She described her childhood as “Going from wanting to be a princess, to being an astronaut to wanting to be in F1”, which could resonate with many girls around the world, with this dream. She was a bright student throughout her entire life, having been truly interested in mathematics and problem solving.
Her teachers advised her to not enrol in engineering, as it was a male-dominated industry, but Buscombe wasn't going to give up on her dream of reaching F1. She went to the University of Cambridge, obtaining a first-class degree in Aerospace and Aerothermal Engineering at one of the top ten universities worldwide. Her master's thesis was on the effect of the drag reduction system (DRS) in F1. It was conducted in conjunction with the FIA, and supervised by former Jaguar team principal Tony Purnell.
Having graduated with a first class honours degree in 2012, Buscombe immediately entered the pinnacle of motorsport. She was Scuderia Ferrari´s simulation development engineer, a role which involved developing and implementing algorithms. In 2013 she was promoted to race strategist. She made strategic decisions for Felipe Massa, and later Kimi Raikkonen from Ferrari´s headquarters, back at Maranello.
She left Maranello at the end of 2015 to join Formula One’s new revelation, Haas F1 Team. Her strategies helped Romain Grosjean claim two successful top-six finishes in the first two rounds of the 2016 season. Her job as a trackside race strategist for Haas lasted for less than a year. She was hired by Sauber (now Alfa Romeo) and became a part of the pitwall at the tracks.
Ruth Buscombe is a brilliant woman, possessing a dedication worthy of admiration by many. She is the perfect example of a role model for younger generations, and has always been an advocate of the ‘Women in Motorsports’ movement. She joined the ‘Dare to be Different’ campaign back in 2016. This non-profit organisation founded by Susie Wolff and Rob Jones aims to increase the participation of women in such a male-dominated sport.
“It's a privilege to be an Ambassador for Dare To Be Different. It’s so important that we fight the archaic stereotype that women and motorsport don't go together to prevent misinformation and dogma prescribing a subset of career choices for girls."
"I'm proud to be a part of an initiative that will showcase the fantastic opportunities available within Motorsport; where what counts is what you can do, not what gender you are,” Buscombe said, at an interview with the University of Cambridge's Department of Engineering.