With the 2023 Formula One season already kicked off to an exhilarating start, WIMCanada takes a look back to 2022, when we had the chance to interview Florence Callier! Florence is the Formula One Protocol Officer, FIA Formula One Guest Manager, and Formula Three Secretary to the Stewards! With such a wide portfolio of motorsport experience, we were so excited for the chance to sit down and speak to her about her career, her love of motorsport, and her advice on bringing more women into the industry.
Florence was interviewed by WIMCanada Director Leanne Junnila and MIAC (Motorsport Industry Association of Canada) President Phil Nelles at the 2022 Montreal Grand Prix. Click the link or read below to dive into this WIMCanada exclusive interview, featuring some unique insights from a standout woman making an impact in the motorsport world! When you're finished, make sure to sign up for the WIMCanada newsletter to make sure you don't miss future exclusive content like this!
LJ: What is your educational background?
FC: I studied languages in Belgium!
LJ: So, you are from Belgium, do you still live in Belgium?
FC: No, I live in the South of France now.
LJ: Nice! How did you find your way into working with the FIA?
FC: Because I was my dad’s daughter - he was a motorsport racer. So, he knew people from the FIA, the GT world, and then I started to work in Monaco for the President of the Manufacturer’s Commission. For five years…from 2001-2005 I went to work for Charlie Whiting and Max Mosley, and their office was in Monaco. Then when Max Mosley stopped being President, I continued with Charlie Whiting but I [worked with] Max Mosley on a private basis and I also assisted John Todt on the Monaco Grand Prix.
Then, unfortunately Charlie died three years ago and Max died one year ago so last year I started to do F3 and this year I contacted the FIA to do more and they created this new post which is the Protocol Officer.
LJ: That’s really nice, and quite impressive.
PN: Have the number of stewards grown?
FC: No no no, at the F3 we have local stewards, we have a steward (always three) and a chairman, and sometimes we have a driver’s advisor, who is in fact the fourth steward but he does not have to sign the documents. He is just there to explain to the steward that physically it’s for example impossible not to brake or impossible not to avoid cutting the curb or whatever. He knows what can be done as a driver and it helps us.
LJ: Okay, it sounds like you kind of discovered motorsport as a career later in life, or did you grow up knowing you wanted to be involved?
FC: No in fact I grew up, my dad and my grandparents they are crazy about Formula One races so my dad has a big collection of pictures and negatives, I mean, fifty years of motorsports.
So, my first job was for the import of Ferrari in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg so I did that from 1991 to 1995, so that was my first job, so I was already in motorsport.
LJ: So, you knew young that you wanted to be involved.
FC: Yes, I didn’t really “want” to be but it was just in the family.
LJ: Your dad must be proud of you.
FC: Yes, he is very happy, Yes, he tells everyone.
LJ: So, if you were speaking to a young girl who wanted to be involved in this world somehow, what advice would you give them, for finding their way?
FC: She has to be a bit passionate because, but there are fields where you don’t have to do some motorsport, for example you have marketing, you have the legal people, so they are all at the FIA but not at the races. If you want to be at the races, you have to be I think you have to be at a minimum passionate about it.
PN: Is your daughter interested in motorsport?
FC: She loves it, she came to Monaco, she follows the drivers of course and she is studying at London’s School of Economics. She is finishing her masters. So yes, she would like to work for F1 of course, yes.
LJ: And you studied languages, how many do you speak?
FC: I speak, Flemish, English, and French fluently, and I speak a bit of Spanish, a bit of Italian and a bit of German.
LJ: Wow, I think that that is maybe an asset for [this type of work].
FC: Yes but those [last] three languages maybe not enough to be able to write, I can read them and understand them but writing it’s still difficult.
PN: Would it be an advantage for young girls getting into this industry to have more then one language?
FC: Yeah, maybe because you need to contact the different ASNs and things, yes the FIA has clubs all over the world so, why not.
LJ: and the FIA is French so at least if you speak English and French…
FC: Yes but it’s more and more English, the language that we all speak.
LJ: Okay, that’s lucky for me because my French is really terrible unfortunately.
FC: No, no, no at the FIA everyone has to speak English.
PN: So Jean Todt, Max Mosley, and Charlie - who was your favorite?
PN: Nice man.
FC: Yes, Charlie and just after that, Max.
FC: [I didn’t work as much with] Jean, just once per year.
PN: In Monaco?
FC: Yes, at Monaco during the Grand Prix so no, it wasn’t a full job.
LJ: Are you working with Ben [Sulayem] at all?
FC: Yes, I am working closely with his assistant because we are working on the [F1 event] guests and often we need their approval when we are booking. We can add people, and she will decide with him when it is possible.
LJ: Okay that’s great, I have heard positive things about Ben from around Canada and in motorsports.
FC: Yes, I am very happy because he seems to know where he goes, he is young, yeah I am very happy.
LJ: That’s great!
PN: So, you should write a book then?
FC: No, I am just an assistant, I mean - I do not have exciting things to write about.
PN: I am sure you have some stories!