Motorsport may still be dominated by the male sex, but Marussia F1’s tester Maria de Villota is not the only female making a noise in a man's world. RT caught up with Russia's Natalya Freidina.
Blonde, beautiful, and with a need for speed – Russia's Natalya Freidina is causing a stir within the motor racing world.
The Samara native, who has been living in Switzerland for the last eight years, is currently the only woman competing on the FIA GT circuit, and she says it was no coincidence she got into the sport.
“My father wanted a boy, but I was born instead, so I had no choice but to fulfill my dad's dream,” Natalya Freidina explained. “I wasn't really keen on a career in motorsport at the start, but now I am used to it and am really enjoying racing professionally.”
She is currently driving an Aston Martin as she competes in the GT 3 competition, which takes her around various circuits across Europe.
However, she loves every minute of life in the fast lane, and has learned to overcome the usual stereotypes about women drivers.
“At first I got a few strange looks, with people either saying: ‘Wow that's great!’ or ‘What are you doing here?’” she said. “I still get jokes about being a blonde behind the wheel, but I've just learned to take it in my stride.”
However, Natalya has had the chance to learn the tricks of the trade from arguably one of Russia's best ever racers, Aleksey Vasilyev.
The 40-year-old has competed at Le Mans and has been racing for almost a quarter of a century.
He and Natalya are partners both on and off the track, but there is no doubting, who is the better driver.
“Of course, when it comes to motorsport, I'm on pole position,” Vasilyev said. “But when we are talking about thinking things through logically, then of course Natalya's in front.”
However, getting into the sport is not cheap. A top-of-the-range Lamborghini or Ferrari will set you back hundreds of thousands of euro.
But, as Aleksey points out, Russian teams and drivers are getting a major boost from the country's top oil firms, while the government has taken a particular interest in the sport.
Nonetheless, it still takes massive financial support just to get started.
“Unlike athletics or swimming where you only need a pair of trainers or trunks, motorsport is way more expensive, as you need a top car, which you have to maintain,” Vasilyev added. “It's very expensive to buy the tires and spare parts, especially for a Ferrari. For a child who's competing in the Russian go-karting championships, it will set their parents back in the region of 50 to 60,000 euro, just for a season.”
However, competing professionally in a Ferrari is much more expensive and will cost from 200,000 euro.
Money obviously plays a massive part in getting started, but talent is very important as well.
And both Natalya and Aleksey will be looking to go from strength to strength, in all aspects of their careers.
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