The new female-only ‘F1 Academy’ support series kicks off this weekend in Austria, but series chief Susie Wolff admits it could be a decade before a woman is on the Formula 1 grid.
“I believe it’s eight to 10 years away from happening,” the wife of Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, and a former Williams test driver, told the Guardian.
“That’s not just because we are lacking the female talent pool and lacking those who progress through the sport, but also because of the realisation that getting to F1 is incredibly tough.
“It’s tough for all of the male drivers,” Wolff added.
“There are only 20 spots on the grid and that’s why it is going to take time.”
The cars are powered by a 174 horsepower engine, with the series actually designed to help female drivers “progress to Formula 3″ and “join the road to F1.
Wolff says there simply has to be more girls and women interested in chasing a Formula 1 dream.
“It will be a very slow process and the numbers are not shifting with any great significance,” she said. “The talent pool is too small, so the best are not rising to the top.”
The inaugural race at the Red Bull Ring this weekend will not be shown live on television, but the champion will receive financial backing.
“It is not even questionable that the winner won’t progress in the sport,” said Wolff. There is such a passion from Stefano Domenicali and the F1 group to see this be successful.
“It’s not just a box-ticking exercise which is what I have had in many other conversations on diversity.”