There’s a very ‘short’ list of women who have graced the Formula 1 paddock as drivers and now Scottish DTM racer, Susie Wolff, joins the ranks of the best drivers in the world.
It is 20 years since Giovanna Amati drove for the Brabham F1 team (coincidentally the outfit Bernie Ecclestone ran during most of the 1970s and 1980s), but Williams are the only team to have won a grand prix with a female driver. Back in 1980, Desiré Wilson won at Brands Hatch in the British Aurora F1 series, securing her name in the record books.
Now Williams take the lead, yet again, confirming today that Susie Wolff will join the team as its Development Driver.
Born in Oban, Scotland, Susie Wolff (formerly, Susie Stoddart) has had the classic racing career, beginning in karting and then moving to junior single-seater series and was twice nominated for the prestigious Young Driver of the Year Award before moving up to DTM. In 2012, Susie will contest her seventh season in DTM.
[Read Matt Roberts “Q&A with Susie Stoddart – DTM Race Driver for AMG Mercedes”]
Frank Williams, Team Principal of the Williams F1 Team, said, “Susie is a talented, successful and highly professional racing driver who competes in one of the world’s most fiercely-contested racing series. Susie will join Williams as a Development Driver, in which capacity she will assist us with the development of our simulator and other technical challenges.
“Susie will also undertake some aerodynamic testing of the FW34 and a full track test in the coming months. Susie will also attend a number of races with us. I should add that, as Susie is married to Toto Wolff, a Director of Williams, her appointment was carefully considered and then approved by the Board, with Toto recusing himself from the process.”
Susie Wolff said, “I would like to thank Sir Frank for giving me this opportunity both on and off the track. I must also thank Mercedes Benz AMG and HWA for supporting me to take up this new experience with Williams. Formula One is the ultimate challenge for any racing driver and it offers me the chance both to apply and to improve the skills I have developed racing in DTM.
“In return I shall be offering some of my own technical insight and experience – coming from a different discipline – and helping the team engage with its partners. I hope also to demonstrate that women can play a role at the highest levels of motorsport and I shall be working closely with the team on its social responsibility programme in the areas of education and road safety.”
Bernie Ecclestone, Chief Executive of Formula One, welcomed the announcement with an unsuitably sexist remark, saying: “If Susie is as quick in a car as she looks good out of a car then she will be a massive asset to any team and on top of that she is very intelligent. I am really looking forward to having her in Formula One.”
Oh well, Bernie will be Bernie..