Plans have emerged for a women-only motor racing championship to be launched in 2019, according to UK and US media reports.
The Press Association cites a document circulated earlier this year in which a London-based company proposed a women-only motorsport series of six races to take place over a condensed summer calendar.
The series would see five races staged in Europe, with the other taking place in America. The champion would be awarded with a Formula One test drive.
The London firm behind the project are believed to be financing its launch and plan for the series to become the second-biggest motor racing series after Formula One within three years.
A number of television companies have reportedly expressed an interest in broadcasting the series.
According to the Press Association, several leading women racing drivers approached by organisers regarding the series are ‘understood to be sceptical and believe a women’s-only championship may harm or undermine their position within the industry.’
Motor racing is the biggest sport that does not offer an alternative for women to compete in standalone events, though there are no rules preventing women competing in the top series of the sport.
The news comes two years after Formula One’s chief executive at the time, Bernie Ecclestone, suggested a separate championship for female drivers could run on Grand Prix weekends.
A spokesperson for the new series organisers said: "There will be no announcement for a number of months as we are undertaking a lot of research and completing our strategy. Starting something from scratch takes an enormous amount of time to get right."
Italy's Lella Lombardi and Maria Teresa de Filippis are the only female drivers to start a Formula One race in the championship's history. In 2014, Susie Wolff became the first woman for 22 years to compete in a practice session and made four Friday appearances for the Williams Martini Racing team. Spaniard Carmen Jorda was a Formula One development driver from 2015 to 2017 for the Lotus and Renault Sport Formula One teams, and the Colombian Tatiana Calderon this year served as a development driver for the Sauber team.