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Susie Wolff, former principal of the Venturi Formula E team and wife of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, has been appointed managing director of the new all-female Formula One academy, F1 said on Wednesday.

The new series aims to help young female drivers move up the motorsport ladder. No woman has started a Formula One grand prix since the late Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.

Wolff is also a former racer. She competed in German Touring Cars (DTM) and served as a development driver for the Williams F1 team. She will report directly to Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali.

“I believe the F1 Academy can represent something beyond racing,” Wolff said in a statement released ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

“It can inspire women around the world to follow their dreams and realise that with talent, passion and determination, there is no limit to what they can achieve.”

The inaugural season will include seven rounds with racers supporting the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, in October.

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Susie Wolff heads new Formula One women’s academy