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Williams give Susie Wolff chance to be first woman in an F1 Grand Prix weekend for 22 years
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Feb 2014   |  11:10 am GMT  |  207 comments

Susie Wolff will become the first female driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend for over 20 years when she drives the Williams in two Free Practice sessions, the team has announced.

Wolff, who has been part of the back room driving staff at Williams since 2012, drove in the Young Drivers Test at Silverstone last July and has been given the opportunity to get some more mileage, under the spotlights of a Grand Prix weekend. The team has not specified which two events she will participate in. She will also get a full test day at one of the four in season tests which are a new feature for 2014.


The statement from Williams this morning said, “In 2014 Susie will continue to work in the Williams simulator to help further develop the FW36. Driving for Williams in two FP1 sessions this season will see Susie become the first female driver to compete in a Formula One Grand Prix session in over two decades, and builds on her promising performance for Williams in last year’s Young Drivers Test in Silverstone.”

Wolff is married to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and has raced extensively in the DTM series.

The last appearance by a female driver at a Grand Prix event came at the start of the 1992 season; Giovanna Amati failed to qualify at the South African, Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix. Lella Lombardi scored half a point in the 1970s and the real pioneer Maria Teresa de Filippis raced a Maserati in three Grands Prix in 1958.

Williams also took on Brazilian Felipe Nasr last week as a development driver with the promise of some FP1 outings, which means that Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa are going to have to accept missing a practice session on a few occasions. Bottas can have little complaint as this is how he got his chance, but for Massa this will be new territory.

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207 comments

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1

Was this part of the Mercedes engine deal?

2

i bet Toto found a way to get merc into williams - somehow as a goodbye present for Sir. Frank (he had to sell his shares there - actually he was close in buying a bigger share of williams and involve even more, if the hadn't been the change to merc, buying a part of the Team together with lauda)

Susi just get's her logical chance with williams, she did a lot of sim work for them last years, and i bet Pat knows, that Susi needs time in the car, to get correlation with her simulator work. He is a fox!

(by the way Mr. Wolf also holds shares of the HWA DTM Merc team .. so the relations are very old, i think there hi met Mrs. Stoddard)

greetings

3

He hasn't sold his Williams shares yet

4

I suspect more the other way round, it actually helped Williams gain a Mercedes engine deal having Suzie Wolf already on their books. A quiet word in Mr Wolfs ear and bish bash bosh Williams get a Mercedes engine deal that is worth more than its price tag in 2014!

5

You forget that Toto was a minority shareholder at Williams - still is in fact.

6

So Susie makes it Williams' four drivers for the season already spoken for.

I guess if one of the two race drivers were to go down, they would have the force majeure argument to make, to bring in another driver as a race substitute.

7

Wasn't former F1 driver Peter Revson part of the Revlon family empire?

9
Jose Sanchez kowalsky

Trying to get sponsorship from revlon maybe?

10

I suspect it's more likely part of the 'Toto Wolff is a significant Williams shareholder deal' 🙂

11

Not entirely unlikely...

12

She's been there for two years before Mercedes came on the scene, so I'd doubt it. If she wasn't good enough to do the drives on merit she'd be out by now.

13

Probably not, because she has driven before for Williams with a Renault engine.

14

Nepotism at it's best. What's she actually achieved, really, besides being maried to an influential figure in F1.

15

I agree with you! Let's face it, they should give the car to felipe nasr... I don't think she will help that much the development...

16

she knows the williams simulator (and the 2012, 2013 cars) by heart?

maybe that is the reason for Mr. Symonds to get "his Sim driver" some comparison in real life?

she and botas are the only ones who know the 2014 car from the sim since last year.

like i said befor Pat is a fox (look at the 40+ pitstops bottas and his crew had to do)

greetings

17

Other than the ability to use a question mark when typing a question?!

18

In all fairness that's a very tricky skill to learn 🙂

19

You're joking, right?

So it's okay for nearly half the field every season to be pay drives who only got their seat because they brought money to it, but if a woman is given a shot in PRACTICE it's Nepotism?

20

Yes, it is OK for half the field to be pay drivers and for a woman to be given a nepotistic shot, because those pay drivers have achieved way more in their careers than two 7th place finishes in DTM.

Now if she'd won a few championships or even races down the tree a bit, then I'd argue it.

But at the end of the day, the only thing she's achieved in top level motorsport is "being a woman", which is poor qualification for getting in on the top flight in my opinion.

21

David Coulthard didn't do very well in DTM even though he won 13 GPs.

22

/ those pay drivers have achieved way more in their careers than two 7th place finishes in DTM./

As Rodolfo Gonzalez, for example. Or Ma Qinghua, perhaps.

23

How many races do you expect her to have won in a 2 year old car?

24

Fortunately for Suzie your opinion counts for nothing.

I reckon anyone would be pretty chuffed to have the endorsement of Pat Symonds - who said she gave excellent feedback. The ability to deliver consistent lap times is much more important than outright speed for a development driver.

25

Probably you can say I am a male chauvinist, but the truism is: EVERY time when woman takes a decisive role (even a small one) in a team predominantly populated by men, she is “compelled” by herself to bring another woman in the team. Every single time. It doesn't matter how qualified the new female is, and very often she is mediocrity at the best. I didn't see it that way when I was 20. I didn't see it when I was 30. But now, when I am almost 50, I am convinced. Plus it seems it's a trend.

26

You are absolutely spot on, it is a man's world and women only come far by bending the rules.

27

It would seem you're getting older but you're not getting more intelligent.

28

Of course. It's natural. No one can be more intelligent than he was before. But someone could be smarter because of experience. What about you? If you have another, contrary experience, please share it with me. I will appreciate it. Otherwise, don't think you a smarter than a person with a lot of experience.

29

Strange, I didn't notice that John Booth was a female until you struck me with your stunning observation.

30

Monisha Kaltenborn?....

31

That's a little unfair - from everything I've seen and read de Silvestro looks like the real deal. She has turned in some solid performances last year in particular.

32

She just signed that Swiss driver, didn't she? I'm all for equal opportunities but until a woman actually ends up in a race seat, I fear that these FP sessions are little more than PR work and are probably doing more harm than good to women and motor sports. Just look at some of the comments here.

33

Is that Monisha Kaltenborn of Sauber who have just signed female indy cars driver Simona de Silvestro you are referring to?!?

35

I have to agree. I'm all for equal rights, but there surely are hundreds of other drivers trying to get into F1 that are faster. It's all well and good setting a few nice lap times in practice or testing, it's a totally different ball game sat on the grid waiting for the lights to go out with 20+ odd ruthless drivers around her. If she isn't going to ever race what's the point

36

Twas ever thus! It's not what you know.....

37

Well done susie, hope the team allows u to set a quick lap

38
Clarks4WheelDrift

I'll second that, congrats to Susie. Hope she gets a good run at it with decent weather, quick laps as well as setup or race distance work.

Tough to compare to any of the race drivers so it would be more interesting to see another first timer, say Susie and Nasr out together.

39

+1 well said Grant and just when I was losing faith with all the mysoginists posting here.

40

Seconded Grant, Lee. Reading some of these posts you would think the Sofa Racers writing them were picking up the tab for her practice runs. Williams have been saying she's doing a great job, in the simulator, for a year now. If nothing else they would want her to know how the simulator compares to the car and maybe, Williams see, she has the other assets a driver will need this year to deal with the complexities of the race strategy. Smart will beat fast this year.

41

Do you know what the word "misogynisitc" means? I haven't seen many, or indeed any, comments here that really fit that description. Personally speaking, I'm not any more bothered by Wolff getting a shot in a F1 car than I am Chilton being a F1 racer or Massa having his career extended despite their overwhelming mediocrity of late. Good luck to her, she's used the opportunities that life has given her and that she has created to achieve something any racing driver would kill for. In principle, there's no difference between Wolff using whatever strings she can pull to get a test driver role than there is Maldonado ringing up the Venezuelan state treasury or van de Guarde tapping up his father-in-law to get a foot in the door.

What you are mistaking as 'misogynistic' is the reality, however, of recognising that Wolff has never at any point in her racing career demonstrated the level of ability to merit such an opportunity. Maldonado and Chilton and van der Guarde are pay drivers, yes, but have won races and championships below F1. Wolff has not. As I said, well done to her for making the best of herself and taking the opportunities as they come, she's done exactly what any driver of either gender would do. But frankly to trumpet this as a major breakthrough for female racers and so on really runs the risk of being counter-productive to the future chances of female racers simply because Wolff has nothing in her background to suggest she'll do well enough to make anyone change their ideas - misogynistic or not. It would be misogynistic to say "No woman will be a good enough driver to be in F1 on merit", but it's not misogynistic to say that all things being equal, Wolff hasn't done a lot to suggest she'll be good enough to be more than a publicity stunt. Maybe she will, again good luck to her, but if past form is an indication of future achievements...

Giovanna Amati moaned about how sexist F1 was and how she wasn't given a fair chance, but I think she missed the glaringly obvious point. F1 isn't sexist, its simply an unfair meritocracy based primarily on wealth and ability. Given the media coverage that Amati, de Villota and now Wolff can generate simply on basis of their gender, a female driver has a commercial advantage that a male driver wouldn't, given the same level of ability. The bottom line is - Amati wasn't good enough, or rich enough to merit more than a minor role, and neither is Wolff.

42

@ptrfjd, "Or does he only telling the true"

I would like to witness this when you telling this to the Williams sisters...

43

Well said

44

@forzaminardi:

"What you are mistaking as ‘misogynistic’ is the reality, however, of recognising that Wolff has never at any point in her racing career demonstrated the level of ability to merit such an opportunity...Wolff has nothing in her background to suggest she’ll do well enough to make anyone change their ideas – misogynistic or not.

Well said...not really much to add, but wanted to praise the reasonableness of your comment.

Cheers.

45

Well said. I would like to add only one thing: to be misogynistic, one has to hate women. Does anyone here hates women? I could hardly say so. Chauvinistic is appropriate word, maybe. But if someone for example says: men are stronger than women, is he chauvinist? Or does he only telling the true, even if no two people would agree about it?

47

Great news ads more to f1 its a sport women can be equal

With men and get more women interested in f1.well done

Susie.

48
Jose Sanchez kowalsky

Please noooo! Dont you think f1 is un a precarious situación already? Do you want women to come and mess it even more?!

49

Okay, as has been pointed out the first sentence in my last reply there was inappropriate, but honestly you just spun me out so much with your first comment and more so with your second that at the time that was all I could think of to say, and as for most of the rest it's probably just unproductive.

But "Women have as much right to race as any man, and they damn sure have a right to go and be a spectator" - keep that, that bit's good.

But you say racing used to be beautiful.

When?

As James pointed out Maria Teresa de Filippis raced in 1958, so there was a female in F1 more than fifty years ago which means as much as we're making a big about Susie now it's really nothing new and negates any argument you might make about being a purist.

You also seem to think that women shouldn't be allowed within a two hundred mile radius of any Grand Prix.

Why?

We don't cheer on men and their machines, we cheer on drivers and their machines. Until they get on the podium all you really see is helmet anyway, so if one or more of those drivers happens to be a women what's the difference?

So why do you think having women in F1 is or would be so bad?

For me it's simple:

F1 = Good.

F1 + Women = Better 🙂

Basically I just really don't get where you're coming from.

50

OK, enough. Strand closed - Mod]

51

[mod]

Women have as much right to race as any man, and they damn sure have a right to go and be a spectator.

But as always and as with anyone on this site you're entitled to disagree, so if you're really keen to find a place where you can go and be where women aren't I'd suggest:

A - Your local gay nightclub or
B - Your local prison shower room (but don't forget the soap).

Please don't mod this James - he needs to hear it, although I'm not getting my hopes up that any of it will sink in.

52

Fair call

53

Whatever your feelings it is unacceptable to attack other posters - you know the rules - Mod

54

More specifically are you being serious?

55
Jose Sanchez kowalsky

There was a time when racing was beautiful. There were not women allowed. And i dont mean inside the cars, i mean inside the race tracks.

56

Well said ranom 79.

57

Are you serious?

58

women haven't been the equal of men in any racing series yet

59

Shirley Muldowney?

60

Go and read something about motor sport before making silly claims like that. Perhaps start with:

http://jalopnik.com/the-ten-most-successful-female-race-car-drivers-ever-1521387326

61

lella Lombardi? Leanne Tander? Janet Guthrie?

62

Shirley Muldowney's 3 Top Fuel titles count for nothing?

63

Pat Moss Carlson and Simona De Silvestro are good examples. Not a fan of Danica Patrick and given her time in a top Indycar team, she should have managed more than one win, but she wasn't bad on ovals, and is now on the NASCAR series. Don't know enough about Susie Wolff to express an opinion, but at 31, it's getting late for her. However, Damon Hill got his break relatively late at around 32. Anyway all the best to her.

64

How about drag racing?

National Hot Rod Association (NHRA)for one is an organization in America that has been way ahead of the curve for 30+ years regarding woman in motorsport anywhere. Competeing from the grass roots weekend meets to the ultimate 3000 hp Top Fuel monsters pulling mega G's. They also run admin and logistics at top levels for teams too. Imo they are long overdue the respect worldwide.

A great example is Shirley Muldowney, a multi time champion who got her start back in the early 60's backed by none other than Don "Big Daddy" Garlits who is a legend in the sport in his own right as well as a becoming great rival. To say she had it tough going breaking into the sport is an understatement.

65

Right, so because there haven't been any decent women drivers so far, F1 should just give up and make it a male-only preserve until the end of time? Should Lewis Hamilton have been prohibited from driving in the sport because Willy T. Ribbs was hopeless?

Personally, I wonder how Danica Patrick would do if she were in a front-running car like Dale Jr or Jeff Gordon at yesterday's NASCAR race. Perhaps she just doesn't have the machinery to do her talent justice? It took Mika Hakkinen until the last race of 1997 to actually win something, and he turned into the only driver that Michael Schumacher ever really feared.

66

I think if women had the physical ability to compete in F1 it would have already happened. It's a nice dream but unless the cars become extremely easy to drive it probably will not happen.

67

RE Random: some sentiments as you, but luckily I got to see that Lazarus performance from Jenson.

I think the FIA brought in the rule saying races now have to be a maximum of four hours.

68

Gaz don't get me started on Canada.

I sat there in front of the TV for what, four or five hours?

And then just when the race was about to finally start they switched to the news.

I swear you could the steam coming out of my ears that morning 🙂

69

Have you taken a look at her massive neck? That's the one part of muscles a racing driver needs - and she has them - hence she's qualified for the job.

70

RE Random: Couple of hours most of the time, however remember Nuburgring 2007, Korea 2010 and Canada 2011? Seems the big fella in the sky wants to us wait and wait and wait for our racing fix sometimes!

71

I agree, im not so sure women will be able to handle the G's. Will they need their ovaries taken out like fighter pilots?

Congrats to Susie though, well done.

Will definately bring alot more female fans.

I look forward to the day when the F1 paddock is not a sausage fest.

72

@Kimi4WDC

Don't worry: As long as people like you and me are willing to spend a couple hours watching twenty odd lunatics tooling around at ridiculous speeds then motorsport will continue to exist in one form or another 🙂

73

Pretty closed minded observation. It's not as much a question of physique, rather than statistics.

When you'll have the distribution of 50/50 of 8 years old boys and girls in go-karts instead of 90/10 there will be a better shot at getting a girl who is actually as talented as few boys who are better than wast majority.

Sadly I think by the time we get there, Motorsport will cease to exist as we know it 🙂

74

They are hardly that physical compared to many sports. Especially combat sports.

MMA is probably the most physical sport there is. Plenty of women there.

75

Two eyes: Check.

Two arms: Check.

Two legs: Check.

Physical ability acquired.

76

FYI - If you get a chance to look at any reruns of the Daytona 500 NASCAR race yesterday, you may gain additional perspectve. Of course, that may also depend on the defiition of "equal" but FWIW, Danaca Patrick was able to run in the Top 10 until one of the several multi-car "mishaps" occurred. No matter what one may think as an observer, that's a pretty fair statement of talent.

77

Shirley Muldowney was the match of any man...ever, in a Top Fuel car. She won multiple championships in an era when they left the line heading for 200mph with several thousand, nitro burning, horsepower right at your toes.

Felt sorry for Patrick running well twice, first the boyfriend and then again in the 500, she gets taken out.

78

I'll agree with you IF she can keep doing it, until then it's another one of those rare occasions when she actually performs well. They tend to come along once or twice a year.

79

It's not that difficult to be good at NASCAR or Indycar ovals: just turn left...............and that's about it really. Try not to hit the concrete walls.

Simple racing for simple people.

Snootiness? Snobbery? Elitist attitudes? F1 fans have always derided NASCAR and Indycar so, I guess so, yes........

80

Michèle Mouton?

81

Jutta Kleinschmidt?

82

Mouton was mind boggling FAST!!

83

It is probably fair to mention that the car that Giovanna Amati was unable to qualify with, in 1992, was quite uncompetitive.

Damon Hill also tried to qualify that car, with the same results.

84
Jose Sanchez kowalsky

Amati was a rich girl. He was just happy to be in front of a few guys. He was not focused on winning.

You can read this in tommy byrne, the fastest racing driver you never saw.

85

but damon did qualify in it,at silverstone.

86

Talking about Brabham, let's not forget that for the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, a certain Bernard Charles Ecclestone on his Connaught Type B,later Team owner of the Brabham team was outqualified by a young woman called Maria Teresa de Filippis driving a Maserati. Now that must have hurt.

87

Bernie only entered that car and himself so he could then sell it afterwards as a 'Monaco GP entered' car.

88

Mr E probably blamed the British Racing Drivers Club for non qualification, after all he's been having a dig at them for as long as I can remember.

89

Yes-yes-yes... but he got a few more tries than her.

90

I think he got 4 tries, so not that much of difference. Car was still a dog.

91

And Hungary!

92

To be fair, Hill qualified the car a couple of times.

93

Auntie Beeb are reporting that she will drive at the British and German GPs.

Can't imagine (other than her British and German ties) what makes these the most suitable sessions to put her in for.

Or perhaps I'm being naive?

94

I hope Silverstone is one of the races. It would be nice to have the chance to witness such a shamefully unusual event. Hopefully the weather will permit some good running on Friday this year as well.

95

Toto Wolff + Williams + new Merc engines =?

Doesn't take a genius to solve that particular equation.

96

Track knowledge?

97

Marketing reasons I imagine.

98

Seems like a very good deal all round, in toto.

99

Very well done 🙂

100

Thank you. My opening salvo for the most atrocious pun of the year...

101

Good God you mean we're in for more?

Everybody, run while you still can!

🙂

102

As much as it's probably good for F1 to appear not to be gender bias! I think putting her in the Williams is a waste of a seat. Just look at her driving record in other categories, it's hardly even average.

103

Exactly. Ironically as a driver who has bemoaned the attitude towards women in motorsport, Susie has benefitted from that exact situation, as despite being given innumerable chances to succeed on a equal level to her male counterparts, she has continually underwhelmed. However, having her husband place her in otherwise unmerited seats is practically what every good feminist is against... marrying some rich man to get ahead in life.

I'm sure she is very committed to Toto, but she can't talk about how hard it is for women in motorsport when she has had more than an easy ride. It might be hard for other more deserving women in motorsport, but not Susie.

104

Like max chilton, perhaps?

105

Max Chilton, in comparison to Susie Wolff, ABSOLUTELY merits his F1 seat.

Fact of the matter, Susie Wolff is not sufficiently talented to EVER compete against the best male F1 drivers. If she was, it would've already happened.

And don't say Damon Hill...b/c Damon Hill smashed Ralf Schumacher countless and innumberable times when RS was at his BEST, and yet Ralf, in the DTM as an old man more or less, smashed Susie Wolf by comparison week-in and week-out.

So Damon Hill was 100x more talented than Susie Wolff, by extension, and Williams is shameless in their PR'ing and this stunt will do nothing to "encourage" more women to try to reach F1.

106

@Matías 3cv -

I’m not saying who’s better, i’m just saying that any other f1 pay drivers are just as good or just as bad as she is.

See, here we disagree. I don't think Wolff is equally talented and I have difficulty understanding what analysis is being done to arrive at this conclusion. But we agree to disagree...

BTW, as Banco Santander is flowing so much money to Ferrari, and Telefónica used to flow so much money to Renault, Alonso is a Pay driver too?

Cheeky!

The difference, of course, is that Alonso would still be paid lavishly to drive even w/o "bringing" Santander, and as you illustrate by reminding us that it was first Telefonica, after all, that paid so much to be associated with him, a true world-class talent like Alonso (unlike Chilton) will attract major backing, regardless of 1) his team and 2) the prevailing economic conditions...b/c he is a genuine world-class world-champ talent!

107

I'm not saying who's better, i'm just saying that any other f1 pay drivers are just as good or just as bad as she is.

BTW, as Banco Santander is flowing so much money to Ferrari, and Telefónica used to flow so much money to Renault, Alonso is a Pay driver too? 😀

108

So they sign a very promising young driver with a shed load of cash and then give the seat to someone that had a best DTM finish of seventh. Formula 1 moves in mysterious ways...

109

please read the articles around

nasr gets 5 FP1s and reserv driver (brings Brasilien Bank Sponsoring9

susi gets 2 FP1s (is actual williams simdriver)

so 7 FP1 out of 19 Pat Symonds sold of (i think a good deal...)

110

This does the female cause more harm than good.

She's got a bang average track record, and by rights should be nowhere near an F1 car.

Trailing round at the back of a couple of FP1 sessions (with people saying it's just because she's married to a major shareholder of the team) will set the cause back 5-10 years.

Why not wait for a lady to come along with real genuine F1 talent and then ensure they get given every opportunity. Don't waste it on a DTM backmarker.

111

Took the words out of my mouth. It is going to set the cause back another 22yrs. At least Chilton won't now be the slowest person on a GP weekend.

112
Clarks4WheelDrift

Unlikely, she has a shot in a Merc engined (sorry Merc PU'd ?!?) car.

Heck she'd probably set a faster laptime than Seb at the moment!

113
Mistress of Speed

When Felipe Nasr was announced as test and reserve driver my heart sank, I thought the next revelation would be that Susie would be off to pastures new and Williams would express their gratitude for her contribution etc etc.

So well done to Susie - I look forward to seeing her at Silverstone and to hearing her on radio and television throughout the practise sessions during the 2014 F1 season.

114

She will do ok during free practices but not when it comes to wheel to wheel racing on a race day in F1. But I would love to see her racing.

115

Let's wait and see. I know Susie's record in touring cars isn't amazing, but perhaps these new breed of F1 cars may require precision and finesse might suit Susie, could be F1 ballet.

It's worth remembering that F1, unlike say, oh I dunno, Indycars, is not about brute strength, its about delicacy, finesse and lightness of touch behind the wheel. F1 drivers have never been fatty boom-booms (apart from Montoya maybe), I mean Sebastian, Lewis, Jenson and Daniel are all greyhounds. As long as Susie has good fitness and stamina, there is no reason wh she can't be competitive.

That's a point, Professor Prost, Lord Nelson and Magic Senna were all short, wan, slim jims who dominated F1 from the early 80s to the early 90s, before power steering and paddle shift gearboxes and the like, and they coped pretty well. F1 are not called throttle jockeys for nothing; like a jockey the smaller and slimer you are, the better.

Go on Susie, you'll be fine!

116

Danika Patrick has managed wheel round in an Indy car (1 win) and in NASCAR. Just a teaser; what have Patrick and Horner got in common?

117

there's so much to learn right now is it really productive to have bottas and massa lose a whole morning session? I'm not sure

118

Agree, there is a trade off here, any team member must be focused on the race results as measured at the end of the season. Two Sim. drivers who have actually driven the car on a track to calibrate themselves would appear to be the only advantage. Williams have made some solid progress lately, hope Susie is an asset not a distraction.

As many have noted here, there are exceptional drivers waiting in the wings with better pedigree's and much more likelihood of race success once on the grid.

119

As a sim development driver,it must help the team

to give her actual track time. Also to keep her enthusiasm up,as only doing sim work must get boring. Good luck to her.

120

One one level its great to see a girl get a chance at the very top level in F1. However on the other hand its a pity there are so many question marks over how she's come by the drive and how much this decision is influenced by her husbands shareholding in the team.

In terms of her career, if she's really serious why not have a go in GP2 at the same time as her Williams career and prove her doubters wrong?

On the point of Massa stepping aside during a race weekend, that might be interesting especially if he's having a decent season. Eitherway I am sure he thought of that at negotiation stage and maybe has certain guarantees that he can't be asked to sit any session out.

121

Why not have a go in GP2? Because then her mediocrity and lack of race craft would be on full display for all to see, including the team principals.

For those that may have been unaware, prior to her elevation to Indy Car (by Rahal), Danica Patrick had not won an automobile race in any category, ever. She spent years in Formula Ford and Formula Atlantic and IMSA (GT racing), without any wins. The only vehicle in which she had ever won a race was a go kart powered by a four-stroke lawn mower engine.

By these standards perhaps Susie Wolf is eminently qualified for F1?

122

Where's she going to get 2 million from for a season of GP2?

123

She drove in the "Young" Driver Test last year, so I don't see why getting some testing on a weekend is a big significant news story.

It's a shame that it's someone who can so easily be dismissed as being there because of her name that's grabbing these headlines. There must be other female drivers with a little more success behind them who'd be much better role models/trailblazers or whatever you want to call it.

124

Nice teeth, and she comes across well on the telly when interviewed. Good look to her.

125

For some reason the Yanks think British have bad teeth, so at least Susie is rectifying that image!

126

Well done Susie, good idea to give her real car experience if she is working on the simulator a lot as development driver.

127

just another danica patrick, it's all about the money, a complete waste of time,

128

You're comparing a bloated burger munching Budwesier drinking flabby Indycar with the ballet dancing pasta eating champagne sipping fly-weight Formula 1 car, which is a non starter. Formula 1 driving is about finesse, precision, accuracy and delicacy. If Susie has those qualities, she'll be fine.

By the way, my analogy was not Danica Patrick herself, but those flumpy Indycars she drove which are heavy, ponderous and cumbersome compared to the little barking westie/yorkie that is an F1 car.

129

Funny how the concrete wall had nothing to do with his horrific accident, in a car that is no longer used on a track that is no longer used. The safety standards on an Indycar arent far off that of an F1 car.

130

Indycars are no more dangerous than any other form of single seater, particularly since they've introduced the DW12. Your lack of knowledge and respect for the series is shocking.

131

I wish I shared your optimism on Indycar safety. Unfortunately it can't bring back Dan Wheldon, a fine man and great driver lost to us because of the lunacy of running Indycars at over 200 Mph alongside concrete walls. I know Dan accepted the risk, but it still hurts when we loose someone.

RIP Dan.

132

Obviously you've never watched an IndyCar race, damned quick those things.

133

And damned dangerous too. See my post above.

And by the look of Montoya or Michael Andretti recently, there are no weight limits in Indycars either!

Nudge-nudge-wink-wink!

134

>>flumpy Indycars she drove which are heavy, ponderous and cumbersome compared to the little barking westie/yorkie that is an F1 car.

And which regularly lap between concrete walls at average speeds in excess of 225 mph, requiring finesse, a light touch, and a bit of bravery.

135

I would never question the bravery, but I would question the safety. A few years ago we lost Dan Wheldon when he hit one of those concrete walls.

The safety record in Indycar and NASCAR is appalling. It's nearly 20 years since we lost Roland and Ayrton, but since then a determined FIA has pushed through safety measures to ensure that doesn't happen again.

Motor sport is dangerous, but at least the powers that be in F1 has eliminated some of the dangers, unlike Indycars whose sorry safety record leaves a lot to be desired.

136

Have you driven any Gaz? lol.

Seriously though, I think the main issue would be mental rather than physical. Practice fine, racing totally different kettle of fish.

137

Sad but true.

138

I hope she outqualifies Vettel. And the way it's looking, she might.

139

Let the race drivers try that first!

140

it's hard to out qualify someone during FP1. Though she might put in a faster lap.

141

Vettel might not even finish a lap.

142

It might be a bit of an exaggeration to say he won't be able to finish a lap in the RBR Glennb, but at this stage it is still a remote possibility...

143

Sebastian may be lucky to get out of the pitlane, never mind do a lap!

Come to think of it, I hope everyone in the pitlane has got their fire extinguishers trained on the Bull garage.............

144

You're walking a fine line there Random. I'm reaching for my yellow card about now...

145

I'll save comment on her ability until we see her on track, after all Williams clearly value her as a development driver.

I would argue its worth putting her in the seat for a few laps even if she is average - A message needs to be sent to young girls everywhere that this is not purely a man's sport. Maybe then we will start to see more interest and finally more girls moving through the feeder series.

Plus Susie is fit 😉

146

Things we do for the money.

147

It makes sense to put all the development drivers in the car at a race weekend or two to help align the simulator experience to the real thing. Naturally given the big changes I doubt the race drivers would give up much time at the first few races so this makes sense.

Of course there is a lot of opposition to Suzie Wolff but I think it's hardly quite the publicity stunt/cash grab we've seen with many 'national' drivers being drafted in the past. And given that she had a decent silverstone test it might so to give her the benefit of the doubt.

And before everyone cries nepotism it's probably best to look at the number of children who get into racing because their dad's did it. Sure Suzie has married an influential F1 figure but it's not like she started racing the minute she met him. She'd already been a racing driver. All the drivers use their connections to get on in F1 - their parents, sponsors, their national Motorsport council, journalists, the painfully obvious 'oh yes I meet up with Bernie he's such a cool guy' schmoozing.

Let's see how she does at the race weekend practices before deciding she's joke. Wait what am I saying? I forgot - there's people on here who decry the racing drivers as slow, incompetent, talentless - unless Suzie breaks the lap record in Practice 1 I expect she'll be condemned...

148

So how long Suzie was associated with F1? Do you seriously think if there was a sign that she was an outstanding driver she would not get a nod for FP1 years ago? The fact is, she is mediocre at best. I wish her all the best and hope she enjoys it. Very few are fortunate enough to drive an F1 car!

149

Alexander Wurz was also considered a good development driver and a mediocre race driver. So what? It was fun to see him racing.

I'd love to see her drive and if it was just for the media coverage to attract new sponsors, which quite frankly can help a team more than 0.5 seconds of raw talent that you can't show when the strategy doesn't allow it.

150

Sussie would be first in line to have at least as much driving skill as Alex.

151

Well I'm not here to be Suzie's press agent - I don't think she's a future world champion or anything - but then very few men are and they don't get the hyper-aggressive hatred that Suzie does.

I see her more in a class with Gary Paffett, a DTM driver who has proven very useful in development drives for a team and is retained because of their high level of simulator knowledge and ability to corelate the development to the race models.

Yes, she's getting attention some of which is solely based on her gender and her family connections, but she also has to put up with a lot of abuse and mistrust because of those same things.

Frankly I think she's better than Max Chilton and a host of other well-connected male drivers (no offence to Max, I'm sure he could drive me and everyone else commenting here into the ground, but in relative terms)who've gotten either the race drive or some FP1 drives out of money, family or nationalistic pride.

Hmm mediocre is a tough term to use. Compared to Alonso/Vettel/Hamilton etc? Sure, but then so is the rest of the grid and most F1 grids of the past. Mediocre compared to a man of a similar career path - not really.

Again, I don't think she is there on pure talent - but then I don't think any of the drivers are there on pure talent alone. Getting into F1 takes a lot more than talent - it takes family, sponsors, political nous, national interest and a vast amount of luck.

152

Agree. When Mr Brabham Jnr, Mr Hill Jnr, Mr Villeneuve Jnr, Mr Piquet Jnr, Mr Rosberg Jnr, and Mr Nakajima Jnr joined the F1 circus, no one complained then, did they?

Interestingly, apart from Nico and Damon the aforementioned drivers were rubbish: yes, Jacques won WDC but he spent five odd years from 2001 to 2006 just tarting around, earning a big juicy salary even though he was blown away be Jenson, Fernando, Felipe and Nick until he was correctly fired mid season 2006.

153

Come on Susie! Show us what stuff you are made of.

154

A political/vanity award at very best, which makes it much sketchier than the Sauber naming of De Silvestro ‘affiliated driver’ for 2014.

It makes F1 appear even more an absurdly rarified elitest pursuit of the Susie/Toto's of the world.

The street-cred accountants know this as the worst kind of bad debt.

155

If you can push a button, you can become a WDC in F1... racing not a requirement.

156

I can push a button.

I expect you'll send the trophy express delivery Goob?

157

Pushing Jenson isn't allowed, sorry Random!

158

Perish the thought 🙂

159

Are you the wife of a team principal? If so, I can make it happen... that, or pay the FIA/team 200 million and you're WDC 2014 material... again, racing is no longer a requirement - gimmicks have been devised to hide all your short comings.

160

Wife of a team principal?

Hmmm...

It would entail a sex change, but yeah, I reckon I could get one to fall in love with me 😉

161

Sorry Random, you're going to have to go to Oxfordshire/Northamptonshire/Milton Keynes/Woking and ask one of the team principals can you borrow a carbon fibre chassis, get Pirelli's to supply your tyres and then go to Brixworth and ask those nice chaps at Ilmor/Merc can you lend their new turbo V6.

Oh, make sure you about 10 stone and can cope with upto 5G!

162

Yeah frankly I can't tick any of those check boxes, but I can still push a button! 🙂

163

Oh and by the way, some sponsorship or links to a billionaire will help too!

164

Not sure about Suzie she comes across as pretty competent at what she does though there are quicker drivers out there without the leg-up.

I was always curious how a 31 year old can be in a young driver test, should be 10 years younger surely?

If you're going to choose a female young driver why not Alice Powell?

165

The young drivers test is badly named, it should just be called the development drivers test. Suzie isn't the oldest in the 'retained' drivers. McLaren regularly use Gary Paffett and Ferrari are keeping Pedro De La Rosa in the stable.

The age range in F1 is generally expanding, with both younger and younger drivers joining more experienced ones staying around for longer again (like they used to).

What would be good is a specific 'new' drivers test - regardless of age, for those who are being primed for a racing seat in F1. And maybe a separate test for publicity, famous drivers from other racing disciplines, celebrities and the like or very rich sponsors - the first to get the teams some evaluation of new prospects and the new prospects to get into the cars - the second to get the teams some money and maybe some media presence in new territories.

166

Yeah, and De La Rosa turns 60 this year.

167

And has never before participated in F1 GP. So Susie is a way better for that role.

168

I understand that mandatory reverse parking in F1 has been recently sanctioned by the FIA. So that's the end of that.

169

Yeah, I can see Kimi doing that...

170

I can see Pastor doing that 😉

172

Massa often bins it into the wall in practice sessions anyway so they might as well.

173

So a week after Simona De Silvestro gets announced at Sauber, Williams announce Susie is going to drive in practice sessions? Can't think this is a coincidence.

This does female racers more harm than good. Simona at least has some credibility - she's been on the podium in Indycar, ran top 10 consistently on the road and street courses, won races at the lower formula.

Completely disappointed. Hoped after Simona had signed, Susie would disappear quietly from the F1 scene.

174

If she was any good, we would have heard about her in her early twenties... too little too late in my book.

This is just family ties at work...

175

We DID hear about her, she's a McLaren Autosport BRDC young driver award finalist and was a regular podium challenger in Formula Renault but never had the money to go beyond.

176

If she was any good, she would have had the money... F1 is desperate for a Danica Patrick... and it shows.

177

I think Susie Wolff is overrated, particularly considering her DTM results if you compare her as a driver, ignoring the fact she is female.

However, I have no doubt that she is probably one of, if not the quickest female circuit drivers around.

In the battle of the sexes, there are some points worth noting. In non physical sports such as darts and snooker for example, there is no reason why a woman shouldn’t be able to compete on an even keel, yet they are nowhere near. This is probably due to the low percentage that compete compared to men, hence the best females competing aren’t that good compared to their opposites. Motor racing is no different regarding the percentage participation, although the physical aspect comes into play.

I would like to see her in the Marussia against Chiltern for example, it wouldn’t prove which one is F1 quality, but it would certainly prove which one isn’t.

178

Overrated?

How many overrated male drivers have been in F1 over the decades?

179

Plenty, not forgetting some current drivers.

She is average at best in DTM, although it's clever marketing by Williams.

180

Unlike commenters here, I once had the pleasure of meeting Susie Wolff.

We had a long chat about F1 and I found out she was a secret diehard tifosa. She said 2014 would be ferrari year. A second bottle of chablis followed the first, and soon we were walking arm in arm back to my hotel. We were just getting in the lift when I woke up. Damn.

181

In my good dreams I shall avoid the lift at all costs.

182

Beats my nightmares about the Caterham hands down lol 🙂

183

I agree the Caterham is a minger, but check out the 1979/1980 Ferrari 312 T4/T5 - a pregnant hammer head shark of a beast. Or come to think of it the 1983 Ferrai 126cb - a bulbous whale.

What's more the 1980 T5 was so slow Jody didn't qualify at Montreal, and he was reigning world champion!

184

My issue with the 126 from 1983 onwards was Ferrari introduced those ghastly "winglets" on the side of the rear wing, I think it was at the 1983 Long Beach GP. From late 1983 all the front runners - Lotus, Brabham, Macca, Frank and Regie - had them, turning F1 into a visual eye soar - maybe apart from the elegant 1983 Brabham.

If you watch the 1984 F1 season, every team didn't have rear wings, they had massive parachutes which look bloated and flabby.

Thankfully, winglets were banned from the start of 1985 - but if Ferrari hadn't of pioneered them on the 126 then Formula 1 could of been prevented from making viewers eyes bleed for a couple of years!

Still think the 1983 Prancing Horse look flabby and bulbous next to the slim-line, elegant and refined Brabham BT52, but that's just my opinion.

186

PS If you painted the Caterham red it would look like that Ferrari hammer head shark mobile.

Perhaps that is where the leafield lads got their inspiration from?

187

I despair at some of the cretins who post here. It's a shame that the intelligence and insight shown by James and his team when compiling the content for this site isn't reflected in the majority of comments.

188

Why despair... its perfectly normal in society to have different opinions... not everyone takes things at face value.

190

Lee,

We are so sorry that we do not live up to your high standards. Perhaps you could find an F1 blog that charges a sufficiently large admission that keeps out the proletariat.

191

Normally the the posters on this site are pretty good I think (even if I don't necessarily agree with them) but yes, there are a couple shockers on this one.

192

I agree completely and wish her the best. Hope that this sport can get more female drivers in it and give the blokes a run for their money!

193

Hopefully she is better at driving F1 car than other racing cars. It happens all the time.

194

A genuinely talented race driver can succeed in any class of car...

Susie Wolff is not genuinely or exceptionally talented, in comparison to the elite F1 drivers of the current grid.

195

As a fan of f1 for well over a decade now I think this is excellent news for the sport. At times it has appeared way too male and testosterone dominated, an image not helped by Bernie Ecclestone and his dinosaur outlook on life.

196

She's probably not good enough to warrant the drive, but that could be said for a few people on the grid. It's good for motorsport, which is one of the few sports where men and women compete against one another.

197

Fantastic.

198

Williams sign Susie Wolff for two FP1 sessions in 2014.

In the same week, Williams sign Felipe Nasr for three tests and five FP1 sessions, AND he got to pedal the new buggy at Bahrain for 87 laps.

Which one has a better chance of making the step to the main game?

As much as some would like it to be otherwise, the Wolff thing is merely window dressing. Then again, getting an F1 drive is not usually a merit-based decision these days.

199

I fear Wolff is not F1 material. She failed to win any races during a long stint in DTM and I suspect a PR stunt is the primary reason for her testing, plus her husband's influence. The Swiss lady signed up by Sauber has much more potential and showed some very impressive form in Indycars, esp. on the road courses. She is the better bet as a potential race driver in F1.

200

Drop a gear James 😉

Wolff is not the "Mercedes boss", he is an executive director of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

201

The naive in me is hoping she will fare well against the regular drivers.

Great news nonetheless.

202

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, best of luck to her.

203

Well done Susie. It doesn't matter how she has got the drive. Formula 1, let us remind ourselves, is the 'pinnacle' of motorsport, yet how many drivers over the years have got drives because of their ability to bring money with them. (Pastor Maldonado being the current one who has no place in F1). Susie has got herself into a position where she has been given a chance to work at the top of the motorsport tree, so once again well done.

204

In this new era of Formula 1 the main concern of all the teams is weight and weight saving methods. N.Hulkenburg was passed up by many teams for being too heavy. V.Bottas was even asked to shed a few more pounds.

Susie Wolff brings to Williams the greatest weight saving advantage in being a woman. When Danica Patrick (height:5'2" weight:45Kg)joined Indy Racing League (IRL) many of the protests made against her and her team was that she weighed roughly 8-10Kg less than all the other male drivers on the grid.

Could the other male drivers match her weight? Of course they could, but probably not retain the same ability to push the car to its limits over race distance. Danica has now been joined by a few other female drivers (Ana Beatriz, Leilani Munter and Simona De Silvestro) as the other IRL teams look to capitalise on the "smaller driver" package.

I think in Formula 1 we will definitely see more female drivers in the seasons to come.

205

Do drivers doing testing at F1 races get to choose their number to??

If Senna Jnr was in F1, do you think he'd of got 7??

206
Mike from Colombia

Valuable track time being taken away from the real drivers. Great idea.

207

Congrats to Susie. Will be interesting to watch out for her fastest lap compared to the guys. Looking forward to her friday practice time.

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