Finnish racer Emma Kimiläinen has claimed that her four-year break from competing was the result of an unwanted request to pose naked for a men’s magazine, offered to her in a meeting to discuss her team’s sponsorship obligations.
Kimiläinen was one of the most promising racers at junior level, competing alongside future Formula One drivers Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen.
After achieving success in Nordic motorsport, she joined Audi team DTM to compete in the German ADAC Formel Masters series in an Audi-funded car as part of a Volkswagen team.
Everything went smoothly for the talented racer until she was told that an unnamed sponsor wanted to come onboard as part of a deal to take part in the Indy Lights series in the US – in exchange for a raunchy photoshoot requiring topless snaps.
Appearing on the Shikaani Formula 1 podcast, Kimiläinen opened up about why she cut ties with the team, explaining that the photoshoot proposal was behind her decision to leave.
“I was already going to meet with the sponsors but I decided to contact the team to figure out what the proposal was all about,” she said.
“The answer was, ‘We have had some disagreements with our partner. We originally agreed that you will pose in a bikini, but now they want completely topless shoots.’
“I was wondering what they were talking about until it became clear that the sponsor was a high-end men’s magazine.”
Kimiläinen refused, quitting the team before taking a lengthy four-year break from the sport.
She made a comeback in 2019, appearing in the W Series, which is exclusively for women.
Kimiläinen took part in just three out of six races due to health problems, still managing to score the most points while hitting the fastest laps on the board.
The 31-year-old praised the W Series after her interview and admitted that she had not expected to reveal as much as she did during the podcast as she reflected on an unedifying part of her career.
“Don’t know what kind of truth serum I drank before but it happened that I talked about things I’ve remained silent on,” she told her supportive fans on social media.
Dont know what kind of truth serum I drank before the @shikaani podcast but it happened that I talked about things I’ve remained silent. Remaining silent is easier when you don’t want attention about things unrelated to your results and you don’t like drama. But here we are😅 1/6
It was a drive for indy lights. Not naming the team (it’s been over 10 years) but the manager realized already then that it wasn’t a fair deal saying to me “I understand your decision, I have a daughter too”, as I was only 20yo at the time. Never told this before, but 100% true.
Ann… thank you ❤ . @WSeriesRacing has obviously had a huge role in the change of culture for better so that I had the courage to speak. However, I never thought it would make a case like this. The public response really surprised me positively. Attitudes have changed. 🙏
“Remaining silent is easier when you don’t want attention about things unrelated to your results and you don’t like drama.
“Luckily, nowadays that [kind of] offer seems very absurd and wrong but the world was pretty different 10 years ago concerning women’s rights and equality overall.
“In racing, there were grid girls in revealing clothing and women were shown in sexist image associated with the motor industry.
“Even if I take it humorously as ‘one of the crazy things’ that has happened over the years, it shows how important the work the W Series has done and is doing for improving equality and diversity in this sports where the roots for a different image of women are very deep.”
She did not elaborate on the offer but insisted that it was “100% true”. “I agree that there’s no room for a ‘guess who’ game at this point,” she explained.
“It’s been over 10 years and luckily things have changed for better and the appreciation for women drivers has increased.
“All of us are working hard on earning that trust every day by kicking ass on the track.
“I’m sure that also male drivers have bizarre stories to tell because where there’s big money involved there’s also politics. That combination leads to weird situations, beyond gender and sports.
“Even if I feel a bit shy to raise attention by saying all this aloud, I must say that as a mother to a seven-year-old girl, I’m so glad and proud about the progress of women’s rights and gender equality in the world.”