Former world champion Damon Hill believes that it is inevitable that a woman will eventually break through and secure a place on the F1 grid, despite many having tried and failed over the years.
Maria-Teresa de Filippis was the first woman to contest a grand prix, contesting five world championship races in the late Fifties, while Lella Lombardi remains the only female driver to score a point - or rather half a point - after finishing sixth in the shortened 1975 Spanish GP, and since then only a handful of women have been given the opportunity to try F1. Davina Galica, Desire Wilson and Giovanna Amati all failed to qualify for races between 1976 and 1992, while Katherine Legge and, more recently, the ill-fated Maria de Villota, have both had the chance to test.
Now, as DTM driver Susie Wolff (nee Stoddart) prepares to test a Williams for the team under the guidance of her new husband, Hill told Channel 4 News
that, in his opinion, it was 'inevitable' that women would eventually make a name for themselves in the top flight.
"Maybe it's just numbers, maybe not enough women have chosen that career path and eventually someone will and show they are every bit as good as the best guy out there," he reasoned, "It's a little bit hard in motorsport that women don't have their own category, but the women drivers I've spoken to don't want their own category - they want to show they can compete against the men."
Wolff, who made her way through the junior single-seater ranks before being picked up by Mercedes for its DTM campaign, works on simulator and aerodynamic testing for Williams, but is scheduled to get a chance behind the wheel of an actual car later this year. Finland's Valtteri Bottas, the reigning GP3 Series champion, is Williams' official test and reserve driver, and is tipped to graduate to a full race seat in 2013, but Wolff insists that she does not want a separate category for female drivers just to say that she made it to the top.
"I don't see myself as anything different or anything special, I just see myself as someone following their passion, someone who loves what they do and someone making a dream come true," she explained, "It's not so much about being in a man's world - it's my
"I try and always make the point that I'm racing for myself. I'm not racing to prove how well a female can do up against the men, I'm racing for me but, of course, there is still a lot of sexism."
Female drivers have shown that they can compete on an equal footing with their mail counterparts across the Atlantic, with Danica Patrick winning an IndyCar Series race on merit, and attracting others - including Legge and fellow Briton Pippa Mann as well as Simona de Silvestro and Ana Beatriz - to the category.