Female Formula One driver 'within ten years'

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Former Williams Formula One test driver Susie Wolff says that she hopes to see a female driver on the grid for a Grand Prix race within the next decade, although she admits that the forthcoming technical regulation changes will make it harder for that to happen in the short term.

"Everybody would always ask me 'why aren't there more women at the top level of motorsport?'", Wolff told the BBC Sport website at the start of Women's Sport Week 2016.

"It's simply a numbers game - there are not enough girls starting at a young age," she explained. "There are only 22 seats on the starting grid and you've got every young driver dreaming of Formula One.

"To make it in Formula One, which is the absolute pinnacle, is incredibly tough no matter what your gender.

"If you have 1,000 little boys racing between the ages of eight and ten and only ten or twenty girls, it's clear it's going to be very difficult for even one of them to make it all the way to the top.

But she insisted that the moment when a woman lined up on the grid for the start of a Formula One race for the first time since Lella Lombardi in 1976 was nearly here. Among currently active female drivers around the world are Simona de Silvestro in V8 Supercars and Tatiana Calderon in GP3, as well as NASCAR star Danica Patrick.

"Society is ready for the change. It's never going to be something that happens overnight, it's going to be a long-term project. There are successful women in the paddock and in front of television cameras who are helping that wave of change. They are there are because they are the best at the job.

"It's too difficult to put a timescale on it but I would hope that within the next 10 years we'll see a female driver on the grid of an F1 race.

"With the new technical regulations though, it's going to be tougher," she added. "There is going to be more downforce and bigger tyres. All the testing so far has indicated it's a lot more physical for the drivers.

"A huge part of my preparation [at Williams] was the physical training - those were the days and hours nobody sees. I was always confident of saying that with the car regulations as they are, and F1 as it is, a woman can be successful."

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