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DTM racer Wolff joins Williams

2012-04-12 07:26

SUSIE WOLFF: The Scottish wife of one of Williams' directors has joined the F1 team as a development driver.orn

Author: ALAN BALDWIN

 
SHANGHAI, China - The Williams F1 team has named Susie Wolff, wife of team shareholder and director Toto Wolff, as a development driver, the second appointment of a female racer this season.

Scottish-born Wolff
, who races a Mercedes in the German Touring Car championship, competed previously under her maiden name of Stoddart.

Marussia, without a point after two years in the sport, announced in March 2012 that it had handed 32-year-old Spaniard Maria de Villota a test role. Wolff has a far more impressive resume, however, and is now in her seventh season in the German series.

'ULTIMATE CHALLENGE'

Team principal Frank Williams said Wolff would help the team with simulator work, would have a full track test and would attend some races.

"F1 is the ultimate challenge for any racing driver and it offers me a chance to apply and improve the skills, Wolff said ahead of the 2012 Chinese GP. "I hope also to demonstrate that women can play a role at the highest levels of motorsport."

F1 rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, who has long wanted a competitive female driver on the grid but has also jokingly compared women to domestic appliances, said he was looking forward to having her in the sport. His choice of words betrayed a degree of old-fashioned thinking, however...

"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," he said.

WOMEN IN F1

Williams said Toto Wolff had not taken part in the decision to appoint his wife, given his position as a director.

Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and Brazilian Bruno Senna are the team's regular race drivers, with Finland's Valtteri Bottas the reserve.

There have been only five female F1 drivers, although none has scored a point since the championship started in 1950.

Italian Lella Lombardo scored a half-point in the 1975 Spanish GP which was halted after 29 laps after a fatal accident that killed five spectators.

SA CONNECTION

South African Desire Wilson entered the 1981 F1 GP in a non-works Williams FW07 prepared by Brands Hatch Racing but failed to qualify. She also raced in the 1981 World championship South African GP which was later deleted from the record for political reasons to become "a non-championship F1 race".

After a disastrous start, she moved up though the field, passing noted F1 drivers in faster cars (among them Nigel Mansell) before spinning off and damaging her rear wing after 52 laps.

She was the only woman to win an F1 race of any kind - Brands Hatch in the short-lived British Aurora F1 series in 1980. As a result, she has a grandstand at Brands Hatch named after her. Wilson also race in CART and sports-car racing. In 1982 she entered the Indianapolis 500 but failed to qualify.

Stay with Wheels24 for the Formula 1 weekend.

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