F1's latest female of note, Claire Williams, believes that women will gradually have more influence in the top flight.
Williams, who began her grand prix career as a press officer in the family team, was promoted to the role of deputy team principal at the end of March, and will eventually take over from her father, and team founder, as the head of one of F1's favourite outfits. While not blazing a trail for women in the top flight – Sauber has already appointed Monisha Kaltenborn as its team principal – Williams believes that her new role continues to signify the emerging female influence on F1.
“The sport may be perceived as being male dominated, but those perceptions are being broken down now,” she told BBC Radio 4's Today
programme, “Sauber has a female team principal and, now I've been put in this position, I think those traditional pre-conceptions of F1 are breaking down a bit more.”
The 36-year old has held the role of director of marketing and communications for the past year, and will continue in the commercial role even though her deputy team principal duties started at the Malaysian Grand Prix. She will work closely with her 70-year old father in the day-to-day running of the team.
“We'll have to wait and see how I do in the role, but I would like to think I will do a good job for the team,” she noted, “Williams' USP is that we're renowned as a family team, so it's important we retain that family element. Putting me in this role, I think, is a good thing for the team and for the sport.”
“Over the past decade Claire has worked tirelessly for Williams,” Sir Frank said at the time of his daughter's promotion, “Her knowledge of the sport and passion for the team is unquestionable and I'm proud to say that during her time here she has proven herself to be one of our most valuable assets. With Claire being appointed deputy team principal, I know the future of Williams is in extremely safe hands.”
With a female presence now in most aspects of the sport, the spotlight will once again return to the subject of a woman breaking the last barrier and becoming a credible threat to the men on track. Alas, while Williams' development driver Susie Wolff has ambitions of gaining a superlicence this season, that breakthrough still appears a little way off.