Former British racing driver Sir Stirling Moss believes women do not have the mental skills to race competitively in Formula 1.
Only five women have raced in grands prix and only one has scored a point.
Moss, 83, told BBC Radio 5 live: "I think they have the strength, but I don't know if they've got the mental aptitude to race hard, wheel-to-wheel."
But F1 hopeful Susie Wolff, 30, responded: "I completely disagree with him. It makes me cringe hearing that."
Italian Lella Lombardi was the most prolific female F1 driver, starting 12 races in the 1970s and scoring half a point.
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.
Arguably the most successful woman currently competing in motorsport is American Danica Patrick.
The 31-year-old, who now races in Nascar and took pole at the 2013 Daytona 500, is a former IndyCar Series rookie of the year, holds the record for the most consecutive races finished in the series and in 2008 became the first woman to win an IndyCar race.
Sixteen-time F1 race winner Moss, who was speaking in a BBC Radio 5 live special on women in F1, which airs on Monday at 2130 BST, added that he was "not surprised" there have been so few women in F1.
"The trouble is, when you're racing, it's pretty tiring," said Moss, who is widely regarded as the greatest driver never to have won the F1 world championship.
"We had three-hour races in those days. You needed tremendous concentration. Now races are only one hour and 10 minutes."
Moss feels women have the necessary physical strength to race but thought they would be lacking mentally.
"We've got some very strong and robust ladies, but, when your life is at risk, I think the strain of that in a competitive situation will tell when you're trying to win," he said.
"The mental stress I think would be pretty difficult for a lady to deal with in a practical fashion. I just don't think they have aptitude to win a Formula 1 race."
Responding to Moss, Wolff told BBC Sport: "I don't know where to start after hearing that interview. I've got a lot of respect for Sir Stirling and what he achieved, but I think we're in a different generation.
"For Moss, it's unbelievable that a female would drive a Formula 1 car, which is fair enough. In the days they were racing, every time they stepped into a car, they were putting their life on the line. But F1 is much more technologically advanced, it's much safer than it was."
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who appears on the BBC Radio 5 live special with Williams F1 deputy team principal Claire Williams, says there is "not really" a chance of a woman joining the sport in the near future.
"There's no reason why a woman shouldn't be able to compete with a man," Ecclestone said.
"Unfortunately, the way things are, I don't imagine a lady will ever get the chance to drive a Red Bull or a Ferrari.
"The only chance is with a lesser team - and they only take someone if they come with a good sponsor. Regretfully, the problem is that many ladies who could compete probably as well as the guys won't get chance."
Wolff responded: "I agree with him. Ferrari and Red Bull take best drivers on the market at the time to go out and win world championships.
"I'm in a position where I'm just trying to get into F1, but I do believe that it's possible for a women to get in, otherwise I wouldn't be doing this."