MOTORSPORT ace Jessica Hawkins is no stranger to breaking down social barriers.
Hawkins, 28, is a former British karting champion and was a stunt driver in James Bond movie No Time To Die.
But last week she battered down another door by becoming the first woman to test an F1 car in half a decade.
Aston Martin revealed Hawkins had been given the chance to get behind the wheel of their 2021 F1 car at the Hungaroring, the venue of F1's Hungarian Grand Prix, last Thursday.
Hawkins alternated the driving with Felipe Drugovich, the reserve driver of Aston Martin and McLaren and the 2022 F2 champion.
The Brit raced for 26 laps in the F1 car, and was lost for words after her drive.
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On the opportunity, Hawkins said: "I want to say a big thank you to everyone at AMF1 Team for having the trust in me, believing in me, and for giving me this opportunity.
"It's taken me every bit of blood, sweat and tears to get here. When I first heard it might be a possibility, I could hardly believe it.
"I've had to keep it secret for months now – which was pretty hard!
"It's been absolutely worth it and it's given me really valuable insight.
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"Nothing will compare to the acceleration and braking of a Formula 1 car and, having looked at the data, I'm really proud of my performance.
"Getting to drive the AMR21 has been a dream come true for me and one I've been ready to fulfil for a long time.
"I'll keep pushing for more and, in the process, I want to inspire other women and let them know they should follow their dream no matter what it is."
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack was also pleased with how Hawkins had done.
He said: "We were really impressed by Jessica's preparation for the test – she worked incredibly hard with our simulator team and that made it an easy decision to put her in the AMR21.
"Jessica approached the opportunity with great maturity; she was up to speed quickly and found a nice rhythm."
Lack of Woman in F1
The last woman to be handed the opportunity to drive an F1 car was Colombian Tatiana Calderon with Sauber – now Alfa Romeo – back in October 2018 at the Hermanos Rodriguez track in Mexico City.
Susie Wolff – the wife of Mercedes team principal Toto – was the last woman to compete in an F1 practice session, doing so in 2015.
However, the last time a female driver started an F1 race was back in 1976, when Italian Lella Lombardi drove for RAM Racing.
Barriers are being broken down, however, albeit slowly.
German driver Sophia Floersch currently competes in F3 and became the first woman to score points in the series at the Belgian feature race.
Before her opportunity in the AMR21, Hawkins had been practising in the simulator at their base in Silverstone.
She joined the Aston F1 team in an ambassadorial role in 2021 and has often been seen around the paddock over the course of race weekends.
James Bond stunt driver
But it has not been all fun and games, and one of the most extreme opportunities for her arose from a Facebook post she was tagged in.
Hawkins had fallen victim to the most common killer of motorsport careers, a lack of funds.
However, when she was notified about a role as a stunt driver it allowed her to raise funds before becoming a W Series driver, and it even landed her a part in James Bond movie No Time To Die.
On her stunt driver career, she told the Mirror: "I stopped racing a good few years before W Series purely because I’d run out of budget to continue on my motorsport journey.
"A friend then tagged me on a Facebook post which said they were looking for a female driver with good car control.
"At the time, it didn’t say what it was for, but I just thought ‘I’ll send them my CV and see what happens’.
"It turns out that it was for a show called Fast and Furious Live. All of the stunts that were in the movie, we performed live."
She continued: "Bond was actually my first movie.
"There was quite a lot of pressure, but I was confident in my ability and I had an incredible team around me.
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"I’m super proud of what I’ve done.”
Hawkins was seen in behind-the-scenes footage driving a Range Rover for the film, describing it as "so fun".
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