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Williams' Wolff: Another bite at F1?

2015-05-07 08:43

LONG WAY TO GO: Williams tester Susie Wolff will take part during practice ahead of the 2015 Spanish GP. A race seat however remains elusive. Image: AFP / Bernd Weissbrod

ALAN BALDWIN

LONDON, England - Susie Wolff will be back at the wheel of a Williams Formula 1 car in Barcelona on Friday (May 8 2015) with little in the way of fanfare but a clear aim in mind.

In 2014, She made plenty of headlines in a similar practice session at Silverstone when she became the first female driver in 22 years to take part in a GP weekend.

Her presence at the Circuit de Catalunya comes 40 years after the only F1 race in which a female driver grabbed points - Italian Lella Lombardi's sixth place at the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

DREAM OF RACING

If Wolff has made it less of a novelty to see a woman on track along with the men in F1, at least on a Friday, her dream of becoming the first woman grand prix racer since 1976 remains tantalisingly out of reach.

She said: "I have performed in the car, I have shown I am capable, I'm in a very competitive team, I drive a car which is capable of podium positions. So I do feel very, very close but in the same respect very far away.

"When they announced (Adrian) Sutil as the reserve at Williams, that was a clear sign that 'Yes, you're close but you are also still very far away'."

Williams started the season without a reserve but with Wolff, whose husband Toto is head of Mercedes motorsport and a Williams shareholder, as development driver with young Alex Lynn.

MORE TESTING PLANNED

When Valtteri Bottas injured his back in qualifying and missed the Australian season-opener, the team appointed Sutil - a veteran of 128 races - and not Wolff who has only tested and taken part in two practice sessions so far.

She will test in Austria in June and drive again in practice at the 2015 British GP in July, following a fixed programme and putting in the laps.

It is important work, with a Friday setup vital for Sunday's (May 10) race but Wolff wants more and time and circumstances are against her.

She said: "We've made such big strides forward and that's a lot down to the team giving me the chance. They took a risk, took a chance and it worked out. So we are making strides forward but I still feel we've got a long way to go."

It will not get any easier, with a new points-based super licence system due to come into force next year that will make it harder for those who have not won junior or qualifying championships.

Wolff, who has not raced single seaters for a decade and would have no points, said it will be tough for any driver and not just women.

She said: "To find the budget to go through all those formulas, to get into the right team so that you actually win the championship in those formulas, that is a huge task for any driver regardless of gender.

"I hope it will get tweaked and adjusted... love it or hate it, but motorsport is not purely talent. It never has been and never will be."

NEXT FEMALE TEST DRIVER

While Lotus have appointed Carmen Jorda as a development driver, she has yet to test an F1 car and her role is seen within the sport as primarily a publicity ploy.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, currently in European F3 with the Carlin team, looks the most promising of those on the horizon.

Wolff, who has faced mutterings that she owes her place in the team to gender and connections, said performance has always been what matters.

She said: "It's all very well to talk about how it would be great to have a woman driver, a woman with sponsors and marketing, that's all great but to get into that drive you have to perform.

"That's what I realized early on when I got into F1."

A proposal by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone that women might have their own world championship gets short shrift.
Wolff said: "You can talk about it all you want but it's not going to happen."  Lapping with the men, if only on a Friday, is where she wants to be.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 series.


Read more on:    williams  |  susie wolff  |  england  |  motorsport  |  formula 1

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