F1 SUPREMO Bernie Ecclestone’s views are not always received well, and his latest concept is once again sure to have tongues wagging. Ecclestone has suggested creating a women’s world championship to run alongside Formula 1 on race weekends, but the sport’s most prominent female driver Susie Wolff thinks it is a terrible idea.
During a Malaysia GP weekend in which Ecclestone made several suggestions about how the sport’s “show” could be improved — including the return of double points for the final three rounds of the series — Ecclestone also suggested a possible way to enhance the presence of women drivers in motorsport.
Although Wolff serves as Williams’ test driver and is confirmed to drive in two Friday practice sessions this year, only two females have ever started a grand prix with the most recent, Italy’s Lella Lombardi, making the last of her 12 appearances in 1976.
With F1 race seats continuing to prove elusive for women drivers, Ecclestone said a separate event that takes place before the main grand prix could be viable.
“I thought it would be a good idea to give them a showcase. For some reason, women are not coming through — and not because we don’t want them,” Ecclestone told the British press at Sepang.
“Of course we do, because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors.“We have to start somewhere so I suggested to the teams that we have a separate championship and maybe that way, we will be able to bring someone through to F1. They could race before the main event, or perhaps on the Saturday qualifying day so that they had their own interest.
“It is only a thought at the moment but I think it would be super for F1 and the whole grand prix weekend.”
Last year Wolff became the first woman in 22 years to appear on track during a grand prix weekend when she drove for Williams in P1 at Silverstone and Hockenheim, while the former DTM driver has completed a number of test sessions.
The latest female to join the F1 test roster was ex-GP3 driver Carmen Jorda who signed as Lotus’s new development driver for 2015.
Wolff was agains the idea, saying “that’s not the right direction at all”.
“First of all, I don’t know where you’d find a full grid of female drivers who are good enough,” Wolff said.
“Secondly, I have raced my whole career in motorsport as a normal competitor. Why would I ever look for a race where I was only competing against women?
“I don’t even know a handful of women who could compete at a high-level race series and I don’t even understand the thinking behind it.
“There are different ways if you want to be proactively helping women, but actually organising a women’s race, is most definitely not the right way forward.”