With the 2020 Formula 1 season now well underway after back-to-back rounds at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, the sport witnessed a landmark and prescient moment when Zimbabwean Stephanie Travers appeared on the podium at the Styrian Grand Prix this past Sunday, 12 July.
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Travers, who is a trackside engineer for the Mercedes Formula 1 team, accepted the constructors’ trophy on behalf of the ‘Silver Arrows’, who recorded a 1-2 in the race as Lewis Hamilton won ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.
In doing so, Travers became the first black woman to stand on the podium in the history of Formula 1, a series which dates back 70 years to 1950.
At a time when sports and society in general is coming out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Zimbabwean’s achievement is a beacon of hope and inspiration – not just as an example for others to follow in her footsteps, but also that a sport such as Formula 1 can move towards greater diversity and representation.
“I’m very excited!” said Travers after accepting the silverware on behalf of Mercedes. “A once in a lifetime opportunity. So, I’m thrilled to be chosen today.”
A chemical engineering graduate, Travers beat 7,000 fellow applicants in 2018 to become a trackside fluid engineer for Petronas – the main sponsor of the ‘Silver Arrows’.
“I provide the technical support and analysis for the Mercedes Formula 1 team,” she explained her role. “This service includes doing the analysis for the Petronas Syntium engine oil, Petronas Tutela gearbox and transmission oil, and the Petronas Primax fuel on a typical race weekend.
“I do the analysis to ensure that we are compliant with FIA regulations, and also to monitor the health of the car as a whole throughout a race weekend.”
Travers and Mercedes will hope to continue their dominance in Formula 1 at the next round, the Hungarian Grand Prix, on Sunday 19 July 2020. SuperSport viewers can see all the action from the Hungaroring with the race starting at 02:10 PM – LIVE on SuperSport 1, SuperSport 6
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