Only two women have ever raced in an F1 world championship grand prix. Maria Teresa de Filippis contested five races in the 1950s, before fellow Italian Lella Lombardi enjoyed the longest F1 career for a female driver, making 12 starts between 1974-1976. 

Lombardi is the only female driver in history to have scored points in F1, finishing sixth at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. 

The all-female W Series that launched in 2019 joined F1’s support bill last year and aims to help woman move up the junior ladder, while Alpine recently launched a new Rac(H)er programme in a quest to find a future female F1 driver. 

“It’s a point that we’re really working on because we believe it’s really crucial in this moment to try to give the maximum possibility to women to come to F1, and this something we’re totally dedicated too,” said Domenicali. 

“We are very happy with the collaboration with Formula W [W Series]. But we believe that in order to be able to give the chance to girls to be at the same level of competition with the guys, they need to be more or less at the same age where they can fight on the track at the level of F3 and F2. 

“So we are working on that in order to see what we can do in order to improve the system, and you will soon see some action. 

“Realistically speaking, unless there is something like a meteorite coming into the Earth, I don’t see a girl coming into F1 in the next five years. That is very unlikely.

“We want to build up the right parameters with the right approach, step-by-step, in order for them to start racing against the guys at the right age, with the right car. That’s really what we are working on.”

The future of the Belgian GP and the F1 calendar 

Domenicali also provided an update on plans for the 2023 F1 calendar and hinted that the Belgian Grand Prix could retain its place. 

The deal for the race at the legendary Circuit de Spa Francorchamps is due to expire at the end of this year, and Belgium looked set to drop off the schedule in 2023. 

However, Spa could remain if other races on the planned 24-event calendar fall through, with the proposed return of the Chinese Grand Prix hinging on COVID-19 restrictions in the country. 

“As you can imagine I cannot comment too much on that, because there is respect of discussing and formalising through the World Motor Sport Council with the FIA,” Domenicali said. “You never saw something [from] me saying that Belgium will be the last year.

“I would be prudent on that comment, I would say, I would be very prudent. That's the only thing I would say. It's true that we are working and discussing with other promoters to see if they're ready for a full commitment already.

“There has been always a point that we have discussed to find the mix of the races where we're going to have at least one-third in Europe, one third in the Far East area, and the other one in the Americas and Middle East. So we want to be balanced.

“Of course, we're talking about a business where investment, the financial contribution, is very important, but we have always said that the traditional races, the races that we know they cannot bring the money that the others are bringing, have a full respect from us.

“So you will see that this will be respected also, not only this year, but also in the future. With Belgium, discussions are still on.”

Domenicali confirmed that F1 is in discussions to revive the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami, but did not say whether the race would join the calendar in 2023 or 2024. 

"I always said we want to have a race in Africa and today the most likely place to have a race in Africa is South Africa," he said.

"Discussions are going on. As you can imagine, when we are talking with new promoters and when we are looking for a very solid and clear long-term commitment, it is taking time. 

“I think we will clarify this situation in the next days, but for sure, the commitment to being in Africa is one we want to take, but we want to take it right.

"The evolution of the calendar will be defined in the next couple of weeks maximum.