Only six women have ever participated in an official Formula 1 world championship weekend and Lella Lombardi remains the most successful with a best result of sixth in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, which earned her half a point.
The most recent female participant was Susie Wolff, who took part in four practice sessions across the 2014 and 2015 seasons, while Giovanna Amati was the last to attempt to take part in a grand prix, failing to qualify for three races in 1992 for Brabham.
W Series champion Jamie Chadwick and Formula 2 backmarker Tatiana Calderon have affiliations with the Williams and Alfa Romeo F1 teams respectively, with Calderon testing an old Sauber privately.
Ferrari is preparing to increase the number of Ferrari Driver Academy participants in 2020 as it attempts to “invest in the future”, according to team boss Mattia Binotto.
“A few other drivers will join,” he said. “It’s something on which we are working very hard. So, we are pleased to know that.
“The Driver Academy is an important investment for us. [Ferrari F1 driver] Charles is the best example. We need to look at the future generation of talent for Ferrari.
“The Academy also looks for women in the future. Women should be part of the Ferrari Driver Academy. That’s something on which we are working right now to make sure that it may happen very soon.”
Since the F1 world championship started in 1950, there have been 772 different drivers who have started a grand prix.
Only two, Lombardi and Maria Teresa de Filippis, are women – although non-qualifier Desiree Wilson had success elsewhere, winning a round of the 1980 British F1 series at Brands Hatch in a Wolf WR4.
Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said in an end-of-season video released by Mercedes last week that a successful female driver would be part of his wish to see F1 more diverse.
“I want the sport to be more accessible,” said Hamilton, who became the first black F1 driver when he made his debut in 2007.
“I was at the FIA gala and I came across an Asian family, and I was like, ‘Hey, I thought I was gonna be the only brown person here!’ Because that’s how it normally is.
“I’m in a world where that’s been common for my entire life. So to see people of colour in the audience, whether it’s black, Asian, whatever it may be, it’s just great to see diversity slowly creeping in.
“It is a world that’s open to everyone. And I hope at some stage there’s a young powerful woman that comes through and blows the field away. Wouldn’t that be something special?”