Susie Wolff has picked out a young female member of the Mercedes academy whom she thinks will be good enough for Formula 1 in the future.
It has been 46 years since the last female driver took part in a Formula 1 race and while stars like Jamie Chadwick are involved with F1 teams, there is little to suggest the sport will see its next female driver any time soon.
Women have found it increasingly hard to get into a sport that is dominated by men and the difference was put in clear view when the W Series, a competition exclusively for women, was forced to end its season two races early due to budget issues.
Wolff, who until August was team principal of Formula E team Venturi Racing, said she believed that while the W Series was great, women needed to compete with men in order to give them a chance of breaking into F1.
“I think it’s about getting a talent early enough and nurturing it because it’s so competitive,” she told the Performance People podcast.
“You have to be the best of the best. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of the sport, so you have to be on the level. That means getting a young girl at karting level and nurturing her and guiding her all the way up through the ranks so she’s ready to compete in Formula 1.
“I think W Series is great in that it creates opportunity, it gets girls racing, but we have to be realistic that in order to make it to Formula 1, you need to race against men.
“So segregating sport is maybe good at creating opportunity but it won’t be the the lasting solution.”
Wolff then went on to say that within the Mercedes Junior Programme, there is a young female driver who she believes with the right guidance has the ability to make it into the sport’s premier series.
“We have a young girl in the Mercedes Junior Programme, she’s only 11. She’s competing at the front in European karting.
“I’d like to think if she carries on in her path, and she’s got the right support around her, she will have a good chance.”
Wolff is presumably reffering to Luna Fluxa, who is a now 12-year-old Spaniard and the first female driver to join the Mercedes team. In 2022, she competed in the OK-Junior karting series.
Given Fluxa’s young age, Wolff believes the sport will have to “wait quite a few more years” before the next female driver makes it onto the F1 track.
“There will be many more out there and it’s just about increasing the talent pool, getting more young girls racing,” she said.
“I think right now, 1.5 per cent of global licence holders are female, that’s such a small number.
“So unfortunately, I think to see a woman on the grid we will have to wait quite a few more years, but I think it’s something that would be fantastic for the sport.”