And as dreams go, hers is certainly particular: to become the first female Muslim to work in – or indeed race – in Formula 1.
A mere pipedream, or is there more lying beneath the surface? Yassmin spoke exclusive to Richard’s F1 to tell all…
Now a lover of Ferraris and muscle cars, Sudan-born Yassmin’s obsession with motorsport came in her early teens.
“I saw a film where a kid was a go kart racer and fell in love with the idea,” she recalls. “I then began to read more and more about cars, machines, F1 and racing. I remember taking out all the F1 history books from the library and trying to remember all the names of the greats.”
Fascinated by an “especially controversial” season, she was certainly impressed by the 2010 Formula 1 season.
“It was also an extremely tight race to the championship!” she exclaimed. “It kept things interesting, quite different to previous years that had a clearer winner. It was also interesting to see Michael Schumacher return, although it was a little strange not to see him with Ferrari!”
And that’s why she’s studying a mechanical engineering degree at university. All the better – rather like Nico Rosberg, one might argue, he started out wanting to be an aerodynamicist – to have a thorough understanding of your field in order to better prepare you for it.
And if the racing option doesn’t necessarily come about, Yassmin still has her sights set on a technical role in motorsport, a field where there are few women working professionally, and even fewer working in specialist engineering roles.
“I am pursuing this at the same time, because I have a passion for both facets of the sport,” Yassmin adds.
“For my final year thesis in fact, I will be designing the chassis for our University Formula SAE race car – as well as hopefully driving it – so I am looking to gain experience and exposure to all sides of the sport and hopefully one of them will give me a breakthrough.”
The ‘female five’ (L-R): Giovanna Amati, Divina Galica, Lella Lombardi, Desiré Wilson, Maria Teresa de Filippis
The absence of women in the sport – there have been just five women who have attempted to qualify for a Grand Prix in the sport’s history – is an issue that has long since caused Yassmin pause for thought, and an issue, she argues, that the sport needs to address if it is to appeal to a wider demographic.
“I think in terms of embracing the female demographic, a long process of culture change and acceptance is required. Even in mechanical engineering women aren’t very common and those who do start in the industry tend to leave,” she adds.
And Yassmin is perhaps better qualified than many to comment on the issue. Voted the Young Queenslander of the Year in 2010, she also set up – at just the age of 16 – a network for community-minded teens called Youth Without Borders. The group advocates for youth issues and facilitates the development of networks to achieve better outcomes for young people and their communities, concentrating on specific issues of leadership, integrity and social justice.
Such altruism is sometimes a rare product in many teens trying to gain their own sense of self in an adult world, but Yassmin acts as an inspiration to many in tackling issues of gender and religious stereotyping. Her maturity certainly belies her age, and we at Richard’s F1 will be watching her progress with interest.
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