Bernie Ecclestone believes one of his most trusted female aides could succeed him as Formula One supremo, almost a decade on from suggesting a woman's place was in the kitchen rather than a race track.

Sacha Woodward-Hill is a name relatively unknown to those outside of Ecclestone's plush Knightsbridge offices from where many of his deals have been done over the years.

But as chief legal officer she has steered the 84-year-old Ecclestone through numerous trouble spots and court cases, including his bribery trial in Munich earlier this year, and is as dedicated a right hand as anyone could be.

It is understood Woodward-Hill holds 17 directorships in F1-connected businesses so understands its workings as well as Ecclestone himself, and in that sense appears the perfect fit.

It is also believed she has a good rapport with Donald Mackenzie, the co-chairman of private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, F1's primary shareholders.

Asked directly about Woodward-Hill at an end-of-season briefing, Ecclestone said: "The people here (in Knightsbridge) would be able to easily follow through what we have put in place.

"Perhaps if I controlled the board I would probably say it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a woman being the chief executive.

"If I died there are enough people in the company who could continue running it the way we have set things up.

"Would they (CVC) want a front guy? Particularly if they run an IPO (float the sport on the Stock Exchange) then the City would want to see someone I suppose and the right person would come along."

It is all a far cry to his comments in 2005 shortly after the United States' top female motorsports star Danica Patrick had just finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500.

Ecclestone remarked at the time: "You know I've got one of those wonderful ideas...women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances."

Ecclestone could hardly say the same about Woodward-Hill, who helped prepare him for his trial in Germany where he could have been jailed for 10 years if found guilty.

Ecclestone took advantage of local legislation to buy his way out of the case midway through at a cost of £60million.

Assessing the past 12 months, Ecclestone added: "I would say it's been difficult.

"Certain stages of the year have not been as easy as they could have, but I've not been distracted. I have been able to keep my focus."

After relinquishing numerous board positions to concentrate on the case, as of Monday this week Ecclestone was reinstated.

As far as Ecclestone is concerned, he still has plenty to offer as he said: "I'm happy here as long as the board are happy.

"When I think I can't deliver any longer I shall retire, but I'm not at that stage, not at the moment.

"I still enjoy what I do. The good thing is every day I get up and I never know what is going to happen. It keeps me on my toes."

Asked as to whether he felt he was still needed, Ecclestone replied: "I've a little bit of experience.

"I'm in a good position with people who trust me, rely on me, I shake hands with them and they don't need a contract. They know that's it, the end of it.

"The only thing is it takes an awful long time to develop that sort of reputation, and whoever does what I do it will take an awful long time for them to achieve that I suppose."

A fresh face Ecclestone will have to contend with is a new chairman of F1 with former Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe due to step down because of ill health.

Paul Walsh, former CEO of one of the world's largest spirits manufacturers Diageo, is poised to take up the reins.