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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.
"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.
"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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