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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Daniel Moxon

Susie Wolff makes F1 demand and will hope husband Toto's "not realistic" view is wrong

Formula 1 "needs more young women entering the sport" at a grassroots level in order for a female driver to reach the top single-seater category.

That is the view of Susie Wolff, who has no shortage of expertise on the subject. She was a Williams development driver and came mightily close to landing an F1 seat, but the chance to race never came and, in the end, she had to settle for a practice session appearance.

Women have competed in F1 in the past, but the list is very short and it hasn't happened for a long time. Just five female racers have entered a Grand Prix weekend – Giovanna Amati was the most recent in 1992, but didn't start. Lella Lombardi was the most recent to actually race, in 1976.

Wolff is trying to use the example she set to inspire more young women to chase a career in motorsport. Her 'Dare to be Different' initiative gets girls as young as eight to take part in motorsport activities, to help increase the chances of unearthing a future female F1 champion.

"We just need more young women entering the sport, there are just not enough women competing to rise to the top," Wolff told the Irish Times. "Naturally it would help to have one young woman racing, I believe when you can see it you can believe it, open up the sport, make it more accessible and you will inspire the next generation."

Recalling her own times waiting in the wings at Williams, Wolff laments that there were two strong drivers already in place at the team right when she was at the height of her powers. "I had Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, it was a very strong line-up so I don't have any bitterness that I didn't get my chance," she added.

Susie Wolff during her Williams days (PA)

"But there were some very tough moments along the way, walking into a garage and people having a lot of scepticism when they see you in the car, so you felt you had to prove yourself more than your male counterparts. That was part and parcel of what I was used to.

"I realised performance is power, if I perform then my gender is irrelevant going into the best teams, I have more of a chance to be successful. Motorsport is one of the few sports where you don't get to see the athlete, when I had my helmet on I wasn't even visible. So I would just get my helmet on and not get distracted."

Last year, her husband Toto Wolff told the Financial Times that Susie was "within a few tenths" of Massa, but added that "the final chance was denied". Regarding the chances of another woman making it to F1 within the next decade, the Mercedes chief suggested such a timeframe is "not realistic".

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