“If they (female drivers) are good enough, they're welcomed in Formula 1,” commented Raikkonen, talking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The prospect of another team joining the Formula 1 pack became obvious following the formation of the new USF1 team, scheduled to make their F1 debut in 2010. IRL's Danica Patrick, who became the first female driver to win a race in a major North-American open-wheel series last year, was heavily linked with a driving role with USF1, especially since co-owners Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor said they are only looking for American drivers to take the job.
Considering the extensive media attention/coverage she gets within the North American public, Patrick would also attract sponsors for USF1 more easily, which will facilitate the team's efforst to become a front-runner in F1.
There were a total of 5 female drivers competing in Formula One since the series' formation in 1950, but only two of them made it through the qualifying session and to the grid. Italy's Maria Teresa de Filippis was the first women to race an F1 car (1958), followed by compatriot Lella Lombardi in 1974. The latter also became the only women to make the F1 scoreboard, following her 0.5 points following her 6th place in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.
There were three more female drivers competing in F1 afterwards – Divina Galica (1976 - 1978), Desire Wilson (1979) and Giovanna Amati (1992) – but none managed to get past the qualifying sessions.