Wolff to become first woman to drive at an F1 race weekend in 22 years

2014 F1 season

Susie Wolff, Williams, Silverstone, 2012Williams have confirmed Susie Wolff will become the first woman to participate in an official Formula One session since 1992.

Williams have retained Wolff as a development driver for 2014 in an expanded role which will see her drive in the first practice sessions at two race weekends. She has been provisionally allocated the British and German Grands Prix.

“Competing in two FP1 sessions, alongside an additional full test day this season will be a big step and I am looking forward to the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the FW36 on a Grand Prix weekend,” said Wolff.

“It’s a challenge that I will relish and it will be a great chance for me to continue assisting the team.”

Chief technical officer Pat Symonds said Wolff has “become a valued member of our driver line-up and 2014 will see her take on more responsibilities as we seek to make a strong step forward in performance”.

“Susie has demonstrated a natural talent for developing a car and providing strong feedback and these sort of characteristics will be key this season as teams seek to quickly understand and refine the radically overhauled 2014 cars.”

The last woman to participate in an F1 race weekend was Giovanna Amati for Brabham in the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Wolff joined Williams as a development driver in 2012 and was the first of the team’s drivers to shake down their 2013 chassis, the FW35.

He husband Toto was a director of Williams when she joined the team, though he abstained from the selection process at the time. He then moved to Mercedes in 2013.

Susie Wolff, nee Stoddart, arrived at Williams via stints in Formula Renault UK and the DTM, spending six years in the latter with Mercedes, achieving a best finish of seventh on two occasions.

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106 comments on Wolff to become first woman to drive at an F1 race weekend in 22 years

  1. I’d be more than happy to give my support to susie if she’d got the on merit alone but this is just not the case.

    She was a below average F3 driver and a rear of the field runner in DTM @ Mercedes for a few years. Then she marries Toto Wolff (49% share holder of German HWA AG the company that runs Mercedes DTM teams) who then purchases 16% of Williams F1 in 2009 and is given the title of “executive director of williams F1″ in 2012, the same year in which Susie is signed as a development driver. Toto then in the same year sells his shares in Williams F1 to join Mercedes F1 as “executive director.” Its then announced the Williams F1 has signed a deal with Mercedes to be there engine supplier from 2014 onwards. This is then shortly followed by the annoucement the susie will be driving for williams in the 2013 “young drivers test.” (very convienient) And we get to current events Williams having now had 12 days of very positive testing using the new Mercedes power unit has “all of a sudden” announced that Susie will be driveing in FP1 and the British and German GP’s this year.

    This is all very convenient in my opinion. I believe there is many behind closed discussions that has led to Williams making these choices.

    I have nothing against Susie and know for a fact that shes a very nice person as have had the pleasure of having a good chat with her at a DTM weekend (when she was still Susie Stoddart) or the fact that shes a woman trying to get into F1 however, I believe that unless she is bringing money to the team or is a proved up and comer with lots of potential the she has no right to be there

  2. coefficient (@coefficient) said on 24th February 2014, 12:13

    SILVERSTONE YOUNG DRIVERS’ TEST, Day 3
    1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m32.894s 79
    2. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m33.242s +0.348s 99
    3. Nicolas Prost Lotus 1m33.256s +0.362s 83
    4. Carlos Sainz Jr Red Bull 1m33.546s +0.652s 35
    5. Davide Rigon Ferrari 1m33.592s +0.698s 20
    6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.624s +0.730s 69
    7. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m33.647s +0.753s 42
    8. Gary Paffett McLaren 1m34.294s +1.400s 77
    9. Susie Wolff Williams 1m35.093s +2.199s 89
    10. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m35.155s +2.261s 85
    11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m35.281s +2.387s 22
    12. Charles Pic Caterham 1m35.576s +2.682s 60
    13. Kimiya Sato Sauber 1m35.642s +2.748s 67
    14. Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia 1m36.339s +3.445s 24
    15. James Calado Force India 1m36.451s +3.557s 5
    16. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m36.744s +3.850s 39

    Given the Williams last year was only competing with the Caterhams her time at the test seems pretty good to me actually and only 2.3s down on the Red Bull of Vettel and less than a second down on the ultra experienced Garry Paffet in the Mclaren. That is pretty much where the car was at last year in the hands of the race drivers.

  3. Tyler Durden said on 24th February 2014, 12:41

    She’s very pretty, which, in a weird sort of way, is a shame.

    I really hope she gets a good shot at some track action, maybe even a fully-fledged race seat, and I just hope she doesn’t get too dogged with talk of how she’s only been brought in to be the pretty face of F1, to help keep adolescent male fans interested.

    Really happy F1 now features a woman. I just wish she weren’t hot.

  4. Dan Brown (@danbrown180) said on 24th February 2014, 12:51

    For those of you who say this makes no sense due to her past results, she is a long term Williams development driver, who should know the car inside out. It makes perfect sense for her to participate in a practice session or two. It doesn’t make much sense to promote her to a race seat, but then no one is suggesting that’s going to happen.

  5. Good for Suzie, but I’m not sure where to put this in context of enabling women in motorsport. She basically has the same chances entering F1 as Rodolfo González did last year or Chanoch Nissany in 2004. I just hope her performance and story don’t do more bad than good.

    That being said, Beitske Visser is testing FR 3.5 as I type this and doing competitive times. Not to be a broken record; but I’d much rather wait for a driver of her caliber, than Suzie Wolff, Danica Patrick or Simona de Silvestro. The last one probably doesn’t have much of a chance replacing Sutil, Gutierrez and I don’t think she’s up to VDG or Sirotkin’s levels.

  6. andae23 (@andae23) said on 24th February 2014, 13:55

    I’m not sure what to make of this. On one hand I think it’s great that there will be a female F1 driver again, but you can’t really say she deserves those two practice sessions based on her track record. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but based on her seven years in the DTM with basically no progress, I really doubt she has “a natural talent for developing a car and providing strong feedback”.

    Focussing on the impact this will have of the emancipation of women in motorsports, I think this is a good thing. The discussion of “she’s only there because she’s a woman” will be resumed during those practice sessions, but the BBC and Sky will probably be very positive about her. Young girls (or their parents) might get inspiration from it, while it might be a stimulating factor for a 10- or 15-year-old girl who’s in doubt whether to continue with motorsports or not.

    So yeah, a bit of mixed feeling for me.

  7. I wouldn’t want to be in a car or on the grid just to fill some quota or just because of who I married, I would want to know I was their on merit.

  8. It’s not what you know, but who you know!!!!!

  9. Just only to be able to drive such a powerful car takes a lot of skill, so Wolff isn’t exactly there solely for her gender. She might not be the next Vettel, but that’s exactly why she’s a test driver (not even third/reserve driver, that’s Nasr), and a few FP1s might actually make her more relevant in her job and a stronger driver. Plus, we’ll all get to see how she fares against real competition.

  10. Chris (@ukphillie) said on 24th February 2014, 14:59

    I would have been happier to see an actual talent like De Silvestro get this opportunity.

    Seriously wishing Susie would just disappear now. She’s not good enough and her constant delusions thats she is are really starting to get irritating.

    To be honest this decision has no bearing on driver talent…..and thats sexist.

  11. We have another Danica Patrick on our hands here.

  12. Chris (@ukphillie) said on 24th February 2014, 15:16

    Also….Is it a coincidence that Toto’s shares still havent been sold? Over a year after he said he would sell them.

  13. It’s great to see the development driver for Williams actually getting a chance to develop by driving the Williams car.

  14. Wow, it seems the fans are divided. A lot are happy for her/excited that a woman will finally be back in F1.. and there are a lot who seem upset because she isn’t ‘good enough’.

    I’m sorry but a practice session isn’t qualy, and it isn’t a race. Plenty of people have driven in practice sessions. The key word being “practice”. The times are negligable in FP sessions, so her abilities aren’t that important here. She’s good enough in my opinion, to do the work needed in a practice session.

    And to the people saying she’s only driving because she’s a woman… You might be right, but you might be wrong. I say, who cares really? The first female to drive in an F1 race weekend in 22 years?? Sorry but that is incredible. Both incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly good as a milestone or landmark, if you will.
    I’m all for positive discrimination. Especially when it’s pretty much a non-point/only affects the other Williams drivers. Empowering women (not to mention boosting F1′s world profile) is a great great thing that should be encouraged. This is a great day, and hopefully it will lead to top-rate female talent coming through different racing disciplines and finally ending up in F1, on merit.

    Congratulations Susie Wolff! Drive the hell out of that car!

    • Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. There is never anything positive to come from it. Short term, yeah a woman is in the car. Long term, it undermines the effort and talent required to deserve such a seat by individuals who don’t fit the politically correct criteria at the given time.

      What needs to be addressed is ‘why’ not many women with the right skill set are appearing. Is it because they are discriminated against? Do they lack funding for their goals? Are women just not as interested in men as becoming a professional racing driver?

      Positive Discrimination is the biggest oxymoron you can imagine, and the most frustrating to me! We should be resolving issues from the ground up, not painting over the cracks.

    • Chris (@ukphillie) said on 24th February 2014, 20:22

      ”Positive Discrimination”

      Oxymoron

  15. Chief technical officer Pat Symonds said Wolff has “become a valued member of our driver line-up and 2014 will see her take on more responsibilities as we seek to make a strong step forward in performance”.

    I really don’t find it right when a driver with almost no experience of driving a Formula 1 car is given the role of a ‘development’ driver. You can understand when you give the role of a 3rd driver or reserve driver but to give a role of a development driver, you must have the credibility to do so which Susie clearly doesn’t have. As Ferrari signed Pedro de la Rosa or even Gary Paffet at McLaren have some credibility to develop the cars.

    It smells like a race of who becomes the first female driver in 22 years to be in a F1 car at a GP weekend. Since Simona de Silvestro was signed by Sauber and has a good history, it seems like Susie or Williams made the move to be the first in line. Otherwise it’s difficult to consider Susie contributing to any “development” of the car. She is good as a dummy driver who can have some hot photo shoots with the helmet.

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