Fresh into the world of motorsport, Ariana Bravo only left her day job recently in order to give her full attention to her presenting roles for Formula 1 and Autosport.
After growing up in a household where F1 was always on TV, she initially engaged with the sport as a fan and soon decided that she wanted to take that leap to pursue it as a career. As a woman, why shouldn’t she do that? Like she tells Females in Motorsport, “why wouldn’t we be represented?”
Both Ariana and fellow female Steph Turner created the Driven by Diversity podcast, after meeting one another at a Dare to be Different event (now FIA Girls on Track UK), under the wider Driven by Diversity initiative which is led by Lindsay Orridge. The podcast focuses on speaking to different individuals who come from underrepresented backgrounds, how they achieved their position in motorsport, and their experience in the world of racing.
“We didn’t manage to get every role within motorsport but we got as much coverage as possible,” Ariana says. “The aim was to provide those individuals with a platform whilst also inspiring others from similar backgrounds to pursue a career in motorsport or give them the confidence that it’s an industry they’re welcome in, that there’s a place for them in.”
Ariana didn’t always see motorsport as an industry to work in herself, so the podcast’s aim and message do somewhat resonate with her journey to her current role: she ended up in motorsport after being discovered on social media.
While growing up, she never seriously considered heading down the motorsport route. Her university studies were totally unrelated to her current work - studying economics - after finding a genuine interest in the topic and working in consultancy for four years.
Discussing her journey to becoming a motorsport presenter, Ariana says, “I started off making an Instagram dedicated to Formula 1 and then I began making IGTV videos; I’d do race coverage, so a build-up on Wednesdays, and then I’d do a short post-qualifying and post-race video on a Saturday and Sunday.”
This was all to help her rehearse being on camera and speaking to a camera - all good preparation for taking that jump to become a presenter. In 2020, Ariana was approached by Formula One Management (FOM) and began discussing the potential of working with them. At the beginning of 2021, she was contacted by Autosport, who asked if she’d be interested in hosting their race coverage podcast. Naturally, she said yes.
“I was pretty shocked because Autosport is such a household name within F1 and more widely within motorsport,” she says. “Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity.”
The cliché question which always comes up when discussing what can be a dream job for so many is always ‘what’s the best part about your job?’. Enjoying your job, no matter the industry, is always so important.
“I love every second of what I do,” Ariana says with a smile. “I’m so fortunate to have a job that I’m really excited about. It’s hard work, don’t get me wrong, a lot of time and preparation goes into it. I’ve worked really, really hard to get to this point.”
When working at the track with Formula 1, Ariana has more freedom regarding the content she’s responsible for producing with her team. She works predominantly on Track TV, something which fans see during a race weekend and is looser in format compared to other content.
“I like the audience side of F1,” she says. “I love the fan-facing content especially; I love doing stuff that’s for the fans.”
But, you’ve probably also heard Ariana on TV a few times this year.
“I’ve done the pre-race show, drivers’ parade; I did some of the post-session interviews for FP2 and the podium interviews. I love every second of it.”
The discussion of more diversity in the motorsport industry is commonplace at the moment, with the introduction of the Hamilton Commission and Formula 1’s promise to create more accessible routes into the sport for those from underrepresented backgrounds. This is an area that Ariana is openly very passionate about.
“I’ve never felt like anyone has looked at me differently or treated me differently because of my gender or my race,” she says. “But, that’s not to say there aren’t issues, and that’s not to say other women and other individuals don’t experience things differently.”
As a woman of colour herself, Ariana believes that it can be overwhelming sometimes if you’re a person from a background with lesser representation, whether that be in regard to your gender, race, or sexual orientation.
“You have to stay focused as much as you can and remember you’re more than capable,” she says. “There may be obstacles and there may be struggles that you’ll face, and there may be people you come across that are very backward thinking, but you have to stay really focused and be really persistent.”
Like she says - difference is good.
“I don’t go into my work with my gender or my race at the forefront,” she says. “I focus on the fact that I’m here to do a job. It’s not something that dictates your ability to be good at your job. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, or whether you’re black, white, Asian or whatever it may be; if you’re good at your job, you’re good at your job.”
However, despite the positive achievements surrounding more women in the paddock and making motorsport more accessible for those from underrepresented backgrounds, there’s still more to be done. With many people in the paddock who feel passionate about making change, Ariana is confident that the industry is heading in the right direction.
“There’s a reason why women are underrepresented in the industry; there’s a reason why this sport is predominantly white and it will take time to address those things and address it at a fundamental level and then build on it,” she says. “There’s work to be done, but there are lots of passionate, incredible people that are already working hard to make a change.”
There’s no denying that the motorsport industry is very male-dominated, but Ariana explains the importance of women being in the industry, and that there’s no reason as to why women shouldn’t be in the paddock.
She says, “the good outweighs the bad,” and highlights the importance of the online community of females in the world of motorsport and “encourages women to join communities like FIA Girls on Track UK”. Being supportive of one another, giving advice and tips, and being there when others are down is really powerful and very integral in an industry like ours.
Women can be successful in motorsport, and that’s definitely not stopping any time soon. From Susie Wolff, who played an integral role in kickstarting Ariana’s career through the Dare to be Different initiative to the range of female presenters in Formula 1, including Natalie Pinkham, Rachel Brookes and Lee McKenzie to name a few, there are plenty of influential women to look up to.
“There aren’t as many women in the paddock as there should be,” Ariana says. “I’m very grateful for the range of women I’ve had encounters with and I’m sure there’ll be many more.”
Working hard and being persistent is important to get to any dream job, and that advice is applicable to any role in any industry. There'll be obstacles for everyone and that happens regardless of gender, but staying focused is important.
“You have to really have confidence in yourself and your own ability,” Ariana smiles. “Believe in yourself, have confidence in yourself and stay persistent.”