F1: Susie Wolff to race at Silverstone, first woman in 22 years
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.other Updated: Jul 03, 2014 20:45 IST
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 have to show what I can do.
"I'm nervous, but you need that adrenaline. Honestly, I'm ready. The Barcelona test prepared me perfectly so I am ready. I know that everyone thimks that I need to show if I am fast, but I'm not going to go on qualifying runs.
"I am part of the team and I will do my programme just as Valtteri (Bottas) 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 saw him claim the drivers' world title with Williams in 1996.
More recently, Spaniard Maria de Villota was in 2012 appointed as a test driver for the Marussia team, but after an accident in testing at Duxford suffered serious head injuries. She 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 in the abandoned 1975 Spanish Grand Prix for March.
The Swiss Sauber team this year signed Swiss driver Simona De Silverstro with hopes of racing her in 2015.
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.
"I'm realistic and it is not easy," she said. "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.
"You need to be the complete package and bring in the right amount of sponsorship if you are to be taken seriously. It would be a great marketing ploy to sign a woman, so you never know.
"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."