Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali believes it is “very unlikely” the sport will have a female driver in the next five years.
A woman hasn’t started a Formula One race since Italy’s Lella Lombardi competed in the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix.
This year F1 is being supported at a handful of events by the all-female W Series, which was set up to create a pathway for women into F1.
Williams academy driver Jamie Chadwick looks set to win the series for the third straight year but has struggled to find the funds for a race seat in the Formula 3 feeder series despite her recent success.
Domenicali said F1 is committed to finding a female driver but does not think it will happen until the path for women is clearer.
“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 Formula One, and this something we’re totally dedicated too,” Domenicali said in a media call ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
“We’re trying to understand how we can prepare the right pyramid also for the girls to come into the pyramid at the right age with the right car. This is the key point.
“We are very happy with the collaboration with [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 Formula 3 and Formula 2.
“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. What I can say on the other hand realistically speaking, I don’t see – unless there will be something that will be like some sort of meteorite coming into the Earth – a girl coming into Formula 1 in the next five years. That is very unlikely, I need to be realistic.
“But we want to build up the right pyramid with the right approach, step-by-step, in order for them to start to race against the guys at the right age, with the right car. That’s really what we are working on.”
Former Williams test driver Susie Wolff came closest to ending F1’s wait for a female driver in the last decade when she made four practice appearances for the team across the 2014 and 2015 season.
However, she was never elevated to an F1 race seat and retired shortly afterwards.