Wolff to be first woman in 22 years to run in F1

By Tim Collings

The fastest woman in the world - Williams development driver Susie Wolff. Photo / Supplied
The fastest woman in the world - Williams development driver Susie Wolff. Photo / Supplied

Susie Wolff will on Friday become the first woman in 22 years to drive a Formula One racing car in an official competitive session when she takes the wheel of a Williams in the opening practice for Sunday's British Grand Prix.

Wolff, 31, a Scot who is married to Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, believes she has a chance not only to prove that women deserve a chance at the highest level of motor racing, but that she has the talent to challenge for a racing seat in the future.

"What is most important for this session is the team," she told reporters. "But I am also ambitious and, for me, this is my chance to show what I can do.

"It's an opportunity not many get and as a woman I've had to work even harder to earn respect. This is a super, super chance.

"I am part of the team and I will do my program just as Valtteri (Bottas, the regular driver) would have done. It's very important for me to return the car in one piece and not 20!"

Wolff will be the first woman to run during an official Grand Prix weekend since Italian Giovanna Amati attempted to qualify for the Brabham team in the opening three races of the 1992 season.

Amati failed to qualify for a race and she lost her seat to Briton Damon Hill who grasped the opportunity and, after finally qualifying a difficult car for the British Prix, used it to launch a career that led to his drivers' world title with Williams in 1996.

Wolff has plenty of racing experience having risen through the traditional British karting and single-seater series to take part in the German sportscar championship (DTM).

She believes she has a good chance of success.

"It's a struggle because there are so many other talented drivers who are fighting for the same chance. But the teams want lighter drivers which counts in our favour and, physically, we are catching up on the men.

"The whole culture of the sport is changing and there are more female engineers and bosses. It's a great time to be a woman in motor sport."

Spaniard Maria de Villota was in 2012 appointed as a test driver for the Marussia team, but she suffered serious head injuries on a testing crash at Duxford and died later that year.

The only woman to score points in Formula One was Italian Lella Lombardi who finished sixth and scored half a point for March in the abandoned 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

The Swiss Sauber team this year signed Swiss driver Simona De Silverstro with hopes of racing her in 2015.

-AAP

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