ALL SMILES DESPITE JABS: Former F3 driver Susie Wolff will be a test driver for Williams in 2015 and will do her bit in practice sessions. Image: AFP / Josep Lago
LONDON, England - Toto Wolff thinks his relationship with his wife Susie harmed, rather than helped, the Williams test driver's Formula 1career.
Susie Stoddart, as she was, is a former F3 and German Touring Cars driver. She wed Toto Wolff towards the end of 2011.
It has often been suggested that her move into F1 was powered by her marriage: Wolff is the boss of Williams' engine supplier Mercedes and he remains a minor co-owner of the team.
'MAKES ME A LITTLE SAD'
However Toto Wolff told France's Auto Hebdo: "Susie is a small woman with a big character who was at Mercedes before me. When I took an interest in HWA (Mercedes' German Touring Cars' team), she was already there. What makes me a little sad is that I am aware of doing more harm than good to her career that she built up long before she knew me.
"I often hear her described as 'the wife of Toto Wolff', which is fundamentally unfair. There are advertising contracts that she cannot conclude because of me and the conflict of interest.
"She has had, and still has, a lot of compromises in terms of her career because of me. She is the test driver at Williams because she did a good job behind the wheel, not because I was a shareholder. At first it was a marketing idea to have a woman and the only one at the required level was Susie.
"The team tested her and she went well.
"In touring cars, when she was competing directly with David Coulthard and Roberto Merhi, she was at their level. And when testing with Williams, she has shown that her level is excellent."