F1 will have an established female driver says Susie Wolff

By Lawrence BarrettoBBC Sport

A female racing driver will be established in Formula 1 within the next 10 years, according to Williams development driver Susie Wolff.

Scottish racer Wolff, who competes in German touring cars (DTM), signed for Williams earlier this year.

"I believe it will happen sooner rather than later," Wolff told BBC Sport. "Definitely within the next decade.

"There is prejudice in motorsport, but I think that is slowly changing and more females are coming through."

The last woman to enter an F1 grand prix was Italian Giovanna Amati, but she failed to qualify for three races at the start of the 1992 season.

"It would just take a massive leap of faith for one of the teams to give a female a chance," added Wolff. "Many people within F1 would like to see it happen.

"Once the first female for some time gets into F1, then I think it will open up the possibilities for more to come through."

Wolff, along with Spaniard Maria de Villota, who signed for Marussia as a test driver, represents the best chance in 20 years to see a female driver on the grid.

Wolff is married to Toto Wolff, a director at Williams. However her appointment was carefully considered and then approved by the team's board, with Toto removing himself from the process.

The 29-year-old from Oban in Scotland, whose duties involve aerodynamic testing, simulator work and track tests, had a seat fitting at Williams HQ in Grove last week with the aim of getting her first run in a 2012-spec car during a straight-line speed test this summer.

"It's a fantastic opportunity, but it's about walking before I run," said Wolff, who was keen to avoid setting big targets for her career.

"Frank has given me the chance and it's up to me to take it with both hands and see what I can get out of it.

"It's still a long way away from being in a F1 race seat. I have got to earn the respect of the team and show them that I am capable."

Only five women have entered F1 races in the past, the most prolific being Italian Lella Lombardi, who started 12 grands prix in the 1970s and scored half a point.

"I think it's very important that if a female makes it into F1, she must be there on merit or she's not going to last long," added Wolff. "You have to be good enough otherwise you're not going to stay there."

Asked what the dream result would be from this appointment, Wolff said: "I'm living the dream. It was always to be a successful racing driver.

"The dream is F1. I'm on that path, part of Williams, and that's a dream come true.

"Now I'm pushing hard to see where the dream goes."