'Female to race in Formula 1 within a decade'

'Female to race in Formula 1 within a decade'

7 June 2012 – Newly-signed Williams development driver Susie Wolff is expecting a female to arrive on the Formula 1 grid within the next ten years, explaining that ‘prejudice in motorsport’ is slowly changing and allowing for women to progress further.

Only five women have contested a Grand Prix weekend in the past, while just two have actually started a race. Lella Lombardi is the most prominent of these, having picked up half a point by finishing sixth in the shortened Spanish Grand Prix of 1975.

A female driver has not started an F1 race since the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix

"I believe it will happen sooner rather than later," Wolff told BBC Sport of the potential for a full-time female F1 driver. "Definitely within the next decade. There is prejudice in motorsport, but I think that is slowly changing and more females are coming through.

"It would just take a massive leap of faith for one of the teams to give a female a chance. Many people within F1 would like to see it happen. Once the first female for some time gets into F1, then I think it will open up the possibilities for more to come through."

The 29-year-old - amongst other commitments - has been carrying out extensive simulator work since signing for the outfit earlier this year, with the possibility of a straight-line test later in the season. Despite admitting that a full-time drive is still far from being attained, she is hoping to prove her worth in the next few months.

Wolff with her fellow Williams drivers

"It's a fantastic opportunity, but it's about walking before I run," she added. "Frank has given me the chance and it's up to me to take it with both hands and see what I can get out of it. It's still a long way away from being in an F1 race seat. I have got to earn the respect of the team and show that I am capable."

"The dream is F1. I'm on that path, part of Williams, and that's a dream come true. Now I'm pushing hard to see where the dream goes."

The GP3 Series, one step below Formula 1's direct feeder category GP2, serves as a prime example of Wolff's belief. Britain's Alice Powell, Spaniard Carmen Jordá and Italian-born Vicky Piria are all currently racing in the championship's 26-strong field.

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