Gui Meng poses for a photo with her race car. [Women of China]
The Women-only Racing Series, known as W Series, was established in October 2018. The ground-breaking racing series for women draws greater attention to and provides greater support for women drivers, and it encourages more women to get involved in automobile racing. Gui Meng, a native of Beijing, was the only Chinese to make it on to the list of 28 drivers after the first round of the 2019 W Series qualifying process.
When she was a child, Gui was interested in cars and racing games, and she liked playing F1 racing games with her cousin. Unlike most European race car drivers, Gui never practiced driving go-karts nor competed in a go-kart race before the age of 10. In 2014, 23-year-old Gui obtained her driver's licenses for both rallying and on-track racing.
Gui chose to become a professional race car driver in 2017. Prior to that, she had studied photography, at Beijing Film Academy, and she had worked as an editor of an automobile magazine in Beijing. She wrote articles and took photos for the magazine.
"If I had started racing at a very young age, maybe my racing career would have been different," Gui says. Although she started her racing career later (in her 20s) than most drivers, she has still achieved some outstanding performances in various competitions.
In 2016, she and her co-driver, Wu Yue, competed in three races of the China Rally Championship. They finished first in a race in Dazhai, in North China's Shanxi Province.
The same year, Gui began practicing for the Formula Renault Series. The following year, in May, the third and fourth rounds of the 2017 Asian Formula Renault Series were held in Sepang, Malaysia. Gui, the only woman driver in the series, finished second in the third round, and took first place in the fourth round. Overall, she finished second in group B of the series.
When she recalls her experience in competing in the W Series qualifying process, she says, "The selection is very comprehensive. It is based on the racers' techniques, physical ability, teamwork spirit, social skills and abilities in other aspects. English is not my native language, but I have no problem communicating with other drivers and the W Series staff. They are nice to me."
The W Series was a good chance for Gui to demonstrate her capability, and to experience the culture of automobile racing in Europe, even though she didn't make it on to the shortlist of racers.
"Many European women drivers begin racing in childhood ... They normally have good physical strength, while Asian drivers have greater flexibility and coordination. For example, in terms of some physical movement, European drivers found it hard to do the movement, but a Japanese driver and I could finish the movement easily," Gui says.
"It is nice to be able to receive training, and to participate in competitions in Europe. There is still a gap between China and European countries in developing the racing industry, and in organizing racing activities.
Generally speaking, there is only a small group of people in China who are interested in the racing sport," Gui adds.
Besides training and racing, Gui likes watching F1 races. She also works part-time as a photographer and coach to earn money to support her racing career.
To maintain good health, Gui goes to the gym, where she performs mostly aerobic exercises and strength training. She has given up snowboarding. "I often fell down, hard, and got bruised … If I was seriously injured, I would not be able to participate in motorsport," Gui explains. She still plays piano.
Since 2014, Gui has participated in different types of races, including circuit races, rallies and singleseat-touring car races. "Each type of race has its own feature. Personally, I like F1 racing, as it requires racers to have a strong body and a great mindset. The F1 racers challenge themselves during the process of manipulating the automobile," she says.
"I think I am a persistent and determined driver, and I am good at adjusting my mindset. When I achieve good results, I am happy and I will keep chasing a new goal. When my results are unsatisfactory, I will reflect on my performance and find out what the problem is," Gui says. She has a notebook, in which she records her driving experiences and what she learns during training and races.
This year, Gui joined a professional team to compete in the 2020 F1 Esports Series China Championship. "Online racing is a bit different with racing on a real-world track. I need more practice … I think this e-sports event is very meaningful. It can help promote the motor racing sport in China," she says. Gui has a racing simulator in her home, so she can have more time to practice.
"I think there is not much difference between men and women drivers. No matter whether it is an e-sports event or a real-world race, and no matter whether the racers are men or women, we must spend enough time practicing and racing, persistently and scientifically," Gui concludes.