The woman who arguably got closest to a race seat in recent years says physical ability is not the reason there are no female drivers in F1.
Although Susie Wolff actually participated in Friday practice sessions, many insiders regard Simona de Silvestro as a bigger talent and two years ago she tested extensively in a Sauber.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone caused a stir recently with comments about the potential of female drivers, but Swiss 27-year-old de Silvestro said: “Whether you make it to F1 or not depends not primarily on your sex, but money.
“As a woman, you may very well be able to drive a formula one car, but to get in there it’s extremely difficult without a lot of money or sponsors,” she told Speed Week.
Recalling her many laps in the Sauber, de Silvestro explained: “I was always fast and never had any problems even when I did race distances.
“I was never afraid of that, because I used to drive in Indycar which is much more strenuous. So physically it was no problem at all,” she added.
De Silvestro says the biggest problem for women is money.
“Access for most young drivers is the biggest problem,” she said. “Because in most racing series you have to buy your chance, and I lacked the budget for formula one because this is really an incredible amount of money.”
Tackling the notion that he is sexist, Ecclestone insists it is simply “pretty factual” that women have struggled to make their mark in formula one.
“People don’t take them seriously,” he told ITV News London this week.
“To put someone in a formula one car it’s going to cost a team probably 25-30 million (pounds) so they have to decide whether or not it’s worth doing that or getting someone else in and they probably think at the moment it’s a bit of a risk.”
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