Exploring the important role that medicine plays in motorsport, Females in Motorsport spoke with Dr. Anna Carreras, an FIA Medical Delegate, to learn more about her responsibilities, challenges and commitments.
Dr. Anna Carreras is the FIA Medical Delegate for the FIA eTouring Car World Cup and the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
“My role is to be sure that all the races in the championship have the same level of medical assistance”, she tells Females in Motorsport. “We send a medical questionnaire to the circuit and the chief medical officer answers how many ambulances, and how many doctors and nurses are around. Basically we map the rules between the racetrack and the medical centre.”
The pre-event work takes place about three months before the race weekend, because if there is something that they need to modify, they still have the possibility to do so.
For Anna, it's important to go and check the medical centre and to introduce herself to every medical personnel involved.
“I always see my role as I’m a guest there," she says. "They know their circuit better than I do. So it's more like collaboration because we all have the same problems worldwide with medical assistance."
According to Anna, dialoguing is key in her job as it’s important to keep the conversation going. She wants to try to learn from the responsible people at the race track.
When not in races, Anna is an Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon working at Hospital Clinic Barcelona (one of the best hospitals in Spain). She specialises in the treatment of poly trauma patients and high-energy injuries. Her mentor in the hospital also brought her to work at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
“My two jobs being a trauma surgeon and then working at the races complement each other," she says. "Because I specialise as also a trauma surgeon in body trauma and high energy lesions, it prepares me for the things I see in races. But when I go to the races, I cannot act like the trauma surgeon.”
Asking about how she’s able to combine the two roles, Anna says that she’s using her holidays to work at race events, alongside her full-time role at the hospital.
“As I only had small championships, I could manage okay," she says. "If they gave me F1, it could be difficult because the F1 calendar is 23 races.”
Anna hopes to one daywork for Formula E or F1, but then she will have to come up with a solution. At the moment, she’s lucky that her manager at the hospital understands her situation very well.
“As long as I have commitment to the hospital, we will find a solution for the days that I need to be at race events," she says. "I'm very lucky with that.”
As the FIA is a big organisation with many guidelines and protocols, Anna isn't involved with establishing the protocols, as the responsibility belongs to FIA’s medical commissions. The medical commission is built up with a president, and then there are the members of the medical commission that are the members worldwide. Then normally when the safety appendix is written or something needs to be modified, it goes through the commission, and then the legal department.
There is one skill that’s important for Anna’s role at the FIA and that’s languages. She’s lucky to be able to speak English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. In addition to this skill, Anna knows it’s important to have empathy and a loving relationship with people.
When Anna is at home, she’s not watching races. But the thing she loves is when she’s at the track and can hear the sound of the cars and is able to surround herself with this, creating an unforgettable buzz.
“And when you get that, you have to have petrol through your veins to understand that,” she says.
Anna is very open about how her boss originally wanted her to change.
“My chief at the circuit told me that I was not good enough for the job because I smile too much," Anna says. "According to her, it was too feminine and it would make me look less professional.
"She said that if I wanted to work on the motorsport, I should be more masculine. That was the period where I stopped working. I cannot stop having a smile on my face as every time I go to a race event, it's something special for me.”
Anna is now adamant that she’s not going to change herself, not even for her dream role in F1.
“There have been people telling me that I cannot work in F1 because I smile too much," she says. "Okay, then if I smile too much for F1, I will not get there, because I won't change in order to be going there. I do what I do and what I love. So I will be smiling."
And her message is now clear - women can achieve whatever they set their minds to.
“The thing is that girls now need to know that they are able to do this job," she says. "When I was young, I watched races and there were no women at all. Michelle Mouton was the only one. With me being Medical Delegate, people know that everyone can do it, even when you’re a woman.”