Bernie Ecclestone vows to help female drivers break into Formula 1

Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to support Susie Wolff's 'Dare To Be Different' programme in whatever way he can in order to get a female driver into Formula 1

Bernie Ecclestone vows to help female drivers break into Formula 1

Ecclestone has come under fire this week for a range of controversial comments aired during an advertising forum, not least his remarks on female drivers.

The 85-year-old claimed a woman racing in F1 "would not be taken seriously", while also suggesting they would be physically unable to drive quickly.

That is despite the fact Wolff was on Williams's books for four years from 2012 to 2015, initially as a development driver and then test driver, taking part in four Friday practice sessions.

Susie Wolff's 'Dare to be Different' holds first major event

Wolff, who launched her initiative earlier this year in a bid to help women get a head-start in motorsport, has since spoken to Ecclestone for clarification on his remarks.

Via Twitter, and in an interview with the BBC World Service, she has accepted the fact Ecclestone's views were taken out of context, and he is determined to assist wherever possible.

Speaking to Autosport, Ecclestone said: "Whatever she wants to do we will try and support it.

"Let me be clear, I would love to see a woman driver in Formula 1. Absolutely. 100 per cent.

"I was asked on stage by Martin Sorrell [the interviewer at the forum] 'If by chance there was a sponsor out there that wanted to put 100 million into a team, providing it had two women drivers, what would you say to that? I said 'I'd be very happy and I'd give another 20 million to make it happen'.

"But people forgot to print these things. Thank God I don't take a lot of notice."

Ecclestone claims his contribution for women in motorsport over the years has been overlooked.

"I've offered more help than many others have done for women in Formula 1, and I still do. All the other people do is talk and do nothing," added Ecclestone.

"For any woman that wants to be in Formula 1, and has the talent, I would try and speak to the teams and get a drive for them."

Ecclestone, however, recognises talent alone is often not enough these days to secure a seat in F1 as drivers often need considerable financial backing.

Asked if he thought any particular female drivers at present had F1 potential, Ecclestone replied: "I don't know.

"You've got to see somebody, like Susie if you like, who has driven in a Formula 1 car, even if only in testing and practice. At least then you would get some idea.

"Obviously people saw her and formed an impression. If they thought she could get the job done and she was someone they wanted, then they would probably have contacted her.

"But for any driver, not just women drivers, a lot of the problems are to do with funding, and not simply about whether they have the talent."

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