Top Gear: is the new Stig a woman?
Top Gear last night unveiled the latest incarnation of its anonymous driver, The Stig, amid rumours that this time it could be a woman.
The new driver is small and slight, prompting immediate speculation that it could be a female racing expert.
Jeremy Clarkson, one of the BBC show’s presenters, claimed to have no idea who it was, but acknowledged that the driver was of small build.
He said: “People are always asking me who The Stig is and now, for once, I can honestly say, ‘I don’t know’.
“The Stig comes up to my legs and makes Richard Hammond look like a giant. All the good racing drivers these days are very small.”
The mystery of the character’s identity has become such a talking point that Sabine Schmitz’s name has already been mooted as a potential candidate.
The 41-year-old German is a former BMW racing driver and TV presenter and has featured on the BBC show a number of times.
She has worked with Clarkson on several shows, including Jeremy Clarkson Meets the Neighbours, when she showed the presenter around the Nürburgring race track in 2002 and his Supercar Showdown DVD.
In 2005, she appeared at the Top Gear Awards to collect the award for Best German.
The last driver to don the now infamous white suit and helmet caused a furore when he wrote a book revealing his identity.
The BBC lost a court battle against the publisher HarperCollins, which planned to release the book by former Formula Three driver Ben Collins, 35, last October.
It ran up legal costs of £76,000 (€89,000) in its failed bid to win an injunction blocking publication of the book.
Collins’ identity had been kept a secret from viewers for seven years.