Formula 1 has been a male-dominated sport from the outset of the World Championship, the inaugural race held at Silverstone in 1950.
Since then, just two females have started an F1 Grand Prix, both Italian: with Maria Teresa de Filippis in the late 1950s, and in the mid-70s, Lella Lombardi, who was also the only one to score, earning just half a point in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.
And while there’s been demonstration runs like at this year’s French Grand Prix, where Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation’s first female member, Aseel Al Hamad, got behind the wheel of the 2012 Lotus Renault E20.
…Susie Wolff, now a Formula E team principal, remains the last female to drive a car in an official session – completing FP1 at the British Grand Prix in 2015, before retiring from motorsport at the end of the year.
Current top female open wheel talents on the road to F1 include 25-year-old Colombian Tatiana Calderón, who races in GP3 for Jenzer Motorsport, two steps from F1. 2018 has been her best season in the category, with nine points to her name and one round remaining.
While in European F3, German Sophia Flörsch drives for Van Amersfoort Racing, with whom both Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc raced. The 17-year-old taking a point in her debut season.
And more females could be joining their fight to the top from 2019, with a new women-only junior category launched last week called W Series.
The championship, which will start in May, will be free to enter, feature grids of 20 F3-spec cars competing in 30-minute races at tracks across Europe, with drivers fighting for a prize pool of $1.5 million US dollars.
But not all female drivers, including Flörsch, agree with the new category – saying it segregates the genders, and that sponsorship money should be focused on putting women in top categories instead.
It’s a hot topic facing the sport as it tries to encourage more female racers, in working towards one becoming the first female F1 World Champion.