On the weekend when former Williams F1 test driver Susie Wolff launches her 'Dare to Be Different' campaign to increase female participation in all areas of motorsport, Bernie Ecclestone says a woman racer 'wouldn't be taken seriously' if they were to secure an F1 race seat.

The last female driver to compete in an Formula 1 Grand Prix was 40 years ago when Lella Lombardi finished 12th in the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix. Since then a small handful of women have come close, in 1992 Giovanna Amati entered three Grand Prix for Brabham but failed to qualify while in 2014 Susie Wolff took part in FP1 at the British Grand Prix.

Wolff wants to encourage and inspire young women to take a bigger role in motorsport, while stressing 'Dare to Be Different' isn't solely focused on F1, but Bernie Ecclestone feels even if a female driver had the talent to make it in F1 they wouldn't be considered by the top teams.

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"If there was somebody that was capable they wouldn't be taken seriously anyway, so they would never have a car that is capable of competing," Ecclestone told TSN.CA. "There was a girl that was driving in GP3 for a whole season so it is not something that hasn't happened."

The GP3 driver Ecclestone referred to is Carmen Jorda, who signed to the Lotus F1 team in 2015 but is yet to appear for them, and she enjoyed three years in the F1 support series but failed to score a single point in that period.

Elsewhere, Colombian 22-year-old Tatiana Calderon currently competes in the FIA European Formula 3 championship and is the sole female driver in the 28 car field.

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I think Bernie's point is that the women who have reached F1 have done so because they were 'women', not necessarily for their driving talent - which has led people to take them less seriously.

However, should a lady come along who was 'genuinely' fast, I doubt anyone would have any issue with it, at least not in the general public, and I'm sure Bernie wouldn't either.

Anna Carrasco (Moto3) is a great example of a girl racing because she deserves to be there - it drives me nuts that the commentators treat her differently to everyone else though - lines such as "wow, look at Anna go, mixing it with the boys" and "what a great result, 20th / 35 riders, fantastic".

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