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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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1

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

2
Mike from Colombia

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

3

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??

4

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.

5

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.

6

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

7

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

Great news nonetheless.

8

Drop a gear James 😉

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

9

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.

10

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.

11

Fantastic.

12

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.

13

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.

14

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

15

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.

16

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.

17

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

19

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.

20

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.

21

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!

22

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.

23

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

24

Beats my nightmares about the Caterham hands down lol 🙂

25

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!

26

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.

28

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?

29

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.

30

Overrated?

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

31

Plenty, not forgetting some current drivers.

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

32

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…

33

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.

34

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

35

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.

36

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

38

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

39

Yeah, I can see Kimi doing that…

40

I can see Pastor doing that 😉

41

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?

42

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.

43

Yeah, and De La Rosa turns 60 this year.

44

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

45

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

46

I can push a button.

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

47

Pushing Jenson isn’t allowed, sorry Random!

48

Perish the thought 🙂

49

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.

50

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 😉

51

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!

52

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

53

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

54

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.

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