Jamie Chadwick moves step closer to F1 drive by joining Williams academy

London (AFP) –


Jamie Chadwick's dream of breaking into Formula One is a step closer after Williams announced on Monday they had hired her as a development driver.

The 21-year-old has emerged as the most likely candidate to end what is now a 43-year wait for a female driver in F1 as she has followed up successes in Formula 3 by leading the inaugural all-female W Series championship this season.

The last woman to start an F1 grand prix was Lella Lombardi in 1976. Fellow Italian Giovanna Amati drove for Brabham but she was replaced by future world champion Damon Hill in 1992.

"Being a part of the Driver Academy is an amazing platform and I'm excited to get started," said Chadwick.

Williams deputy principal Claire Williams said she hoped having a female role model would inspire girls to take up racing.

"We hope to show that motorsport is inclusive and exciting, be that as a driver or on the engineering side," she said. "Jamie is a great talent and I look forward to working with her."

Williams, previously a dominant force in F1, previously signed Scottish woman driver Susie Wolff to a development contract in 2012 but she left three years later.