"I thought it would be a good idea to give them a showcase," the 84-year-old F1 chief told the Telegraph. "For some reason, women are not coming through - and not because we don't want them. Of course we do, because they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors."
The idea would be to have a separate race for women on Sunday ahead of the main event, and though sure to arouse some controversy, it may not be quite as outlandish as it seems at first. For one thing, grands prix already typically include support races from series like the Porsche Supercup or GP2. For another, Ecclestone has long been trying to cast F1 as something of a motorized Olympics, with races taking place around the world and a proposal to replace podium trophies with bronze, silver and gold medals – and at the Olympics, men and women compete in separate events.
The difficulty would be in trying to find enough qualified female drivers to actually make up a full grid. The most promising prospect would surely be Susie Wolff, test driver for the Williams team who became the first woman to take part in an F1 race weekend in 22 years when she participated in the practice session at the British Grand Prix last year. But Wolff told the Mirror that she wouldn't be even slightly interested in taking part in such a series. "First of all, I don't know where you'd find a full grid of female drivers who are good enough. Secondly, I have raced my whole career in motorsport as a normal competitor. Why would I ever look for a race where I was only competing against women?"
Wolff isn't the only female professional in racing, though. Lotus has GP3 driver Carmen Jorda on retainer as a development driver, Simona de Silvestro tested with Sauber last year, and Danica Patrick has been linked with a potential switch to F1 in the past. Maria de Villota sadly succumbed to injuries inflicted in an F1 crash, but other talents like Rahel Frey, Sarah Fisher, Pippa Mann and Natacha Gachnang could make the cut.
Then again, this whole idea is coming from the same man who was quoted as saying that "women should all be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances." And sexist quotes aside, there have not been a lot of women who have made it into F1 altogether: only six in all, and only one of them – Lella Lombardi in the mid-70s – even managed to score half a championship point, let alone actually win a race. So what do you think, is Ecclestone's idea on the level of the Olympics or the WNBA, or an idea that could be seen as demeaning to women?