Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has proposed a controversial world championship for women drivers as part of grand prix weekends.
Ecclestone, who has two daughters but once infamously compared women to kitchen appliances, suggested they could race before the main event on Sunday or on Saturday.
“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.”
“I thought it would be a good idea to give them a showcase,” British media quoted the 84-year-old as saying during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
“For some reason, women are not coming through — and not because we don’t want them,” added the Briton. “Of course we do, because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors.
No woman has competed in a Formula One race since Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.
Lombardi scored half a point in 1975 when she finished sixth in a Spanish Grand Prix shortened by a fatal accident.
The last woman to try and race in Formula One was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify with Brabham in 1992.
However, Susie Wolff is development driver at Williams and last year became the first female to take part in a grand prix weekend in 22 years when she drove in Friday free practice.
Spaniard Carmen Jorda, whose record in other series is unimpressive, has also been appointed a development driver at Lotus.
Wolff, wife of Mercedes motorsport head Toto, gave Ecclestone’s idea short shrift.
“It’s most definitely not the right way forward,” she told the Daily Mirror.
“First of all, I don’t know where you’d find a full grid of female drivers who are good enough. 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 can hand on heart say it would not interest me at all to win such a race. I would rather not be in the race because what am I winning? A race where they’ve just looked for any girl to make a grid up.”