A clear talent in the world of female motorsport, Sabré Cook is working hard both on and off the track to make it to the top. With the return of the W Series just weeks away, I was lucky enough to talk to chat to Sabré about her goals and aspirations for this year, women in motorsport and much more.
Like many drivers, Sabré got her start in the sport because of her father, a motocross and supercross rider in the 80s. With the risk of this sport being high, her parents wanted her and her brother to start karting instead, which she did at the age of 8. Having found a love for the sport, she continued to race in karts for many years but struggled to find the funding to get her there. This changed in 2017 when she was able to kickstart her journey towards her ultimate goal of IndyCar. After years of trying to build the budget for single-seater racing, finding some key sponsors allowed Cook to race in USF2000 and US F4. Taking part in these series was enough to get her noticed by the W Series head-hunters, and after testing in 2018, she gained one of the 18 coveted places on the 2019 grid, and from there, her success has continued.
More than a driver:
Racing is not Sabré’s only passion, however, as she is also a talented motorsport engineer. Having won the US final of the Infiniti Junior Engineering Academy in 2019, allowing her to move to the UK to assume a position with Infiniti and, therefore, the Renault F1 team. For Sabré, this was a second chance at a dream, with the move to Europe coming at the perfect time. Following “a constant struggle with sponsorship”, which made it so difficult to get into a car, especially in a professional series, W Series “matched up perfectly” with her living and working in the UK. Without this, the series simply “wouldn’t have been feasible”.
Being able to work so closely with cars was, of course, a massive opportunity for the American driver, but it doesn’t always have any on-track benefits. Sabré discussed how it does allow her to have a “deeper understanding”, meaning they can often “get to a solution faster”, but this isn’t beneficial in spec series like W Series. Unlike Formula 1, spec series drivers all compete in identical cars, meaning she’s “limited on the changes she can make”.
Working hard both on and off-track became important for Sabré in 2020 when she could concentrate on coaching and some engineering for Formula Mazda in the US. She was also lucky enough to drive in two IndyPro and 2 SCCA races, allowing her to keep her skills sharp ahead of a very busy 2021. She has already been able to compete in 6 races this year, which she remarked was more than ever before, something she was “extremely happy about”.
Women in Motorsport – is W Series important?
Sabré recognises that W Series was very beneficial as it allowed her to “build [her] brand and get more exposure”, which helped her continue competing in many series in the United States this year. With so much support for W Series in 2019, she feels that joining the F1 weekend will only allow that support to branch out even more.
With female drivers becoming an increasingly common sight in mainstream racing series, Sabré, like many people, is pleased to see the recognition that the women competing in W Series are getting. She remarked about how this had allowed young girls to see a clear path and goal, stating that “almost every young girl [she meets] saying ‘she wants to make it to W Series'” Hearing that girls see W Series as a goal is so important for the future of women in motorsport. As more young girls see women just like them competing, the goals of these up-and-coming talents will only continue to be bolder and more equal to those of young boys.
Goals and ambitions – this year and beyond:
Competing in so many different series in 2021 and beyond, Sabré has many aims and goals for the future. In terms of the W Series, her main aim is to improve on her 2019 performance. Having gone in with the “least experience of anyone”, building on last season is important to her, with hopes to “finish in the points in every race and improve [her] overall championship position“. Sabré also announced just last week that she would be competing in two Porsche Sprint Challenge races this year, the first of these races being this weekend at COTA (Circuit of The Americas), where she hopes to see how she stacks up against her competition. Using this experience, she hopes to finish in the top 5 at the second race at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) in early June.
In terms of longer-term aspirations, Sabré’s goal is IndyCar, focussing on racing in the medium term and returning to engineering once her racing days are behind her. She talked about how important engineering is to her and that she will continue to work on small projects on the side, with an aim being to work for a top F1 or IndyCar team as a performance or race engineer. However, she also has an interest in aerospace, which may be something she comes back to in the future. Ultimately though, “the focus is on the driving now” as she works towards her IndyCar aspirations.
Thank you once again to Sabré for taking the time to speak with me. We wish her the best of luck with her many series this year. Porsche Sprint Challenge at COTA starts this Friday, with W Series beginning at Le Castellet, France, on 26th June.