'ALL-WOMEN RACE? NO WAY!' Williams F1 development driver Susie Wolff has made plain that the Ecclestone plan is a non-starter. Image: AFP / Josep Lago
SEPANG, Malaysia - Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has proposed a controversial championship, solely for female drivers, as part of Grand Prix race weekends.
British media quoted the 84-year-old as saying during the 2015 Malaysian GP weekend over March 26-29 after proposing the idea to team principals: "I thought it would be a good idea to give them a showcase."
'MUST START SOMEWHERE'
Ecclestone continued: "For some reason, women are not coming through and not because we don't want them – of course we do! - but because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors.
"We must 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."
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.
No woman has competed in a F1 race since Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976 although several have secured roles with teams in recent years and others have competed in junior series and in the US. She is listed as competing in 17 GP events.
AND THEN THERE WAS DESIRE...
Lombardi scored half a point in 1975 when she finished sixth in a Spanish GP that was shortened by a fatal accident. The most recent woman to try to race in F1 was Italian Giovanna Amati but she failed to qualify with Brabham in 1992.
However, Brakpan-born South African Desire Wilson was entered in an F1 GP in 1980 in a Williams but failed to qualify. she has a spectator stand at Brands Hatch in England named for her. She also tried for the 1982 Indianapolis 50 but there, too, failed to qualify.
Today (2015) Susie Wolff is a development driver with Williams and in 2014 became the first female to take part in a GP 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 but at Lotus.
'NOT THE RIGHT WAY FORWARD'
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, I don't know where you'd find a full grid of female drivers who are good enough.
“Secondly, I’ve 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 up a grid."
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