Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt on the ability of women to compete in Formula One because he believes they may not be able to drive the cars fast enough.
The F1 boss was answering questions from an audience at the Advertising Week Europe 2016 conference.
Asked how Formula One could improve its gender diversity at all levels of the sport, Ecclestone addressed his answer specifically to the matter of women racing drivers.
“I’ve always felt bad about this because I don’t know whether a woman is able physically to drive a Formula One car quickly,” he said.
“And even if they could they’re never going to be taken seriously,” he added. “This is what the big problem is. And it’s completely wrong.”
Ecclestone added he would “love and would help to get a lady in a Formula One car” and said if a sponsor were to put money into an all-female team he would “put another 20 million in to make sure it happened”.
The most recent woman to drive an F1 car at a race weekend was Susie Wolff, who took part in four practice sessions for Williams over the past two seasons. At her final appearance she lapped within eight-tenths of a second of team mate Felipe Massa.
Asked about women team managers in F1, Ecclestone said he had predicted a rise in the number of top businesswomen.
“Quite a long time ago, maybe this was five or six years ago, I said ‘within five or ten years 50 percent of company’s CEOs will be women,” he said. “Because they’re more confident and they don’t have massive egos.”
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