Michela Cerruti is a feisty female who has always had an interest in sport. Born in Rome, she showed promise in education and sporting activities, however at the age of 16 she decided to focus entirely on a psychology degree. It wasn’t until she attended a safe driving course at 18 that she found her talent for balancing both speed and control. She was instantly hooked and after some persuasion, her father let her race.
“When I look back, I wish I started racing earlier,” Cerruti told Women in Motorsport. “[Not] to have the same experience that most of my opponents have is my biggest disadvantage. On the other side, I’m happy that I could grow up as a woman. I studied and graduated at University, hard to achieve if I was only focusing on racing. Today I am mature and I have a good culture, which is quite rare in the world of athletes.”
Since making her racing debut in 2008, Michela talked us through some of her biggest highlights in her career to date, listing her 2011 win at Monza in the International Superstars Series as “the most beautiful and unexpected” with her Mercedes C63 AMG. Cerruti also spoke of her victories in Imola (2014) with the AUTO GP and her latest victory at the Nürburgring Nordschleife last year, with the BMW Z4 GT3. All very impressive for someone that hasn’t even been racing competitively for ten years.
“I would love to win a 24 hours race. My best [result] was a sixth place last year at the Nürburgring, but overall I was pretty unlucky all the other times that I’ve started one,” Cerruti adds when I ask if she has a goal in mind for her future racing career.
Having raced in so many series, Michela has experienced the different atmospheres in each category she has raced in and opened up how the environment varies from paddock to paddock.
“I like that you can breathe in GT Endurance paddocks, you spend many days together with your teammates and your opponents as well, there is a lot of respect and drivers are very professional.
“In single seater championships the atmosphere is a bit tenser; drivers are less friendly and only focused on performance. Sometimes with young drivers, they all look and behave the same, they all feel like they are world champions already! While in touring car or GT racing I found people with more personality and more experience overall.”
It is clear that Michela loves her GT racing and speaks very highly of the sport. With the rising popularity in GT racing we asked if the sport will see a surge of young female racers aspiring to race in the WEC rather than F1.
“I think that there are more possibilities for everyone in GT racing rather than F1,” she states. “It is a world full of professional drivers and paid official factory drivers. It is extremely high level racing as well and races are very competitive and stimulating for drivers. Whether you are male or female, you have to show performance to be chosen by a manufacture or a team.”
Michela is currently racing with iconic brand Alfa Romeo. I wanted to know if the Italian felt any pressure driving such a well-known manufacture within motorsport.
“Of course yes, but it’s a very good pressure. It is an honour for me to bring back Alfa Romeo to high level racing and for sure we will do our best to achieve important results and show the huge value of this Italian brand all over the world.”
Finding the support from a brand like Alfa Romeo didn’t come easy for Michela Cerruti.
“It’s very difficult to find someone who believes in you and wants concretely to support you. It’s hard for everyone,” Cerruti tells me. When I ask if as a woman she found it easier securing sponsors as she is a niche in a very male-oriented sport she simply said that was a woman in a male-oriented sport can be “more attractive”.