Susie Wolff joins Williams as development driver

2012 F1 season

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Williams has announced Susie Wolff has become one of the team’s development drivers.

Wolff (nee Stoddart) has raced in the DTM since 2006. Her best result is two seventh places scored in 2010.

Team principal Frank Williams said: “Susie is a talented, successful and highly professional racing driver who competes in one of the world’s most fiercely-contested racing series.

“Susie will join Williams as a Development Driver, in which capacity she will assist us with the development of our simulator and other technical challenges. Susie will also undertake some aerodynamic testing of the FW34 and a full track test in the coming months. Susie will also attend a number of races with us.

“I should add that, as Susie is married to Toto Wolff, a Director of Williams, her appointment was carefully considered and then approved by the Board, with Toto recusing himself from the process.”

Wolff said: “I would like to thank Sir Frank for giving me this opportunity both on and off the track. I must also thank Mercedes Benz AMG and HWA for supporting me to take up this new experience with Williams.

“Formula One is the ultimate challenge for any racing driver and it offers me the chance both to apply and to improve the skills I have developed racing in DTM.

“In return I shall be offering some of my own technical insight and experience – coming from a different discipline – and helping the team engage with its partners.”

Bernie Ecclestone gave his backing to the move, saying: “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. I am really looking forward to having her in Formula One.”

Wolff joins Williams’ development driver line-up alongside GP3 champion Valtterri Bottas, who is driving for the team in Friday practice sessions this year.

2012 F1 season

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Image © DTM

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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102 comments on “Susie Wolff joins Williams as development driver”

  1. Wolff (nee Stoddart) has raced in the DTM since 2006. Her best result is two seventh places scored in 2010.

    “I should add that, as Susie is married to Toto Wolff, a Director of Williams, her appointment was carefully considered and then approved by the Board, with Toto recusing himself from the process.”

    Somehow these two things don’t add up…

    1. It seems like her main role is simulator testing.

      Racing and testing require different skill sets.

    2. I call nepotism and/or publicity stunt on this one.

      1. I first thought it was Michael Schumacher with a wig….

        1. brilliant!

        2. Well she certainly looks better with this photo than the first one…

        3. Saw both in person , M.S. At f1 test And S.S. At DTM race in montmelo and trust me, she looks sexy in person and so sweet to talk to.

  2. The interesting thing here is the presence of a quote from Bernie Ecclestone. Why is he endorsing Wolff’s appointment? In the light of the surprising recent departure of Adam Parr, it’s bound to raise questions.

    1. @keithcollantine – Because of her relationship to Toto Wolff? He’s an investor, the kind of person that Bernie would associated himself with.

    2. Because it wouldn’t be an article about a woman in F1 without an inappropriate comment from someone, and Bernie knew Frank wouldn’t oblige.

      1. @DVC You simply couldn’t think of anything less appropriate for Bernie to come out with! Love him or Hate him (and i both in equal measure) You can’t beat a good old Bernie comment!

      2. I thought Bernie’s comment was satire, did Williams include it in their press release?

    3. …maybe he is just trying to give the impression that they are really hiring Susie because she is a prospect and a good asset financialy, because she is a she… im just kidding you’re right Keith.

  3. If only there was a separate category just for women in DTM then her results in the series over the last six years wouldn’t look so bleak. Anyway I’m sure Frank has chosen her for all the right reasons, and doesn’t secretly find this rather depressing.

  4. Yep once again, being a women gets her places where a man has to break his back to get too, shameful, what exactly is she going to develop into?? Her DTM record speaks for itself, she’s not F1 material.

    1. Exactly, she has it so easy racing for six years in DTM – where’s my test??

    2. But there have been loads of supposedly sub-standard drivers in F1 over the years.
      There are also some people who didn’t do so well in the lower formulae, and excelled in F1, like james Hunt, and there have been some people who were awesome in the lower formulae who weren’t that good in an f1 car, like Giorgio Pantano and Vitantonio Liuzzi

    3. Given the lack of female involvment in the sport at a racing, testing or even simulator role in the last 40 or so years, I’d say the women are breaking their backs to get into the sport.

      1. Thank you for that.

    4. Exactly! I’m tired of women getting all the drives in motor racing, I mean look at how skewed the Formula 1 field is. Oh no wait, my mistake, you’re talking complete and utter nonsense.

      1. I’m not talking nonsense what exactly has suzie done to get an F1 driver role??? Six years in DTM and she hasn’t even finished in the top 5.

        1. How is this any different from other male drivers paying to race?

          1. Like who?

        2. The patently ridiculous claim that women are somehow privileged over men in obtaining positions and the fact that your first instinct is to denigrate her for being a woman rather than questioning her credentials tells me that you have nothing to add to this discussion that anyone should take seriously. It shouldn’t need to be pointed out to you that there is a different skillset involved in being a race winning driver and a driver able to help develop cars/simulators/technologies, of which neither you nor I are in any position to debate her proficiency in. But the the indignation you’ve shown that a woman be given the job over a man, shows what kind of attitude you have towards women.

          1. You do realize that most the talk about her helping develop the car will be nice PR talk right?

          2. And that statement is based on? I mean apart from your inability to believe that a woman could actually make a meaningful contribution?

          3. As far as I know a good driver knows how to set-up a car well and knows what direction to take with it, Suzie has been in DTM for 6 years and has managed a best result of 7th, a lot of male drivers have been dropped after a season or two even after scoring better results, plus Suzie has no F1 experience so how is she going to contribute, to developing an F1 car??

          4. Sorry Puffy but i can’t describe your words anything more than wrongly put sentimentality on taking unneeded defending role for the female gender.
            This woman isn’t there because she’s more capable than others.

            She’s there because she’s the wife of the Wolff guy. You don’t have to be a genius to put two and two together. Excuses about her talent are kind of desperate attempts considering her record.Does that mean she’s there because she’s a woman? Well maybe but ill give it more to her personal connection than her gender on this one.

          5. @solo Please don’t misunderstand me, there are a lot of valid criticisms to be made about her appointment, but being a women is not one of them. Her DTM record is far from impressive and it’s certainly not much of a stretch to imagine that her connection to a director of the team was a factor in the decision, although I did point out that there’s not necessarily a link between racing results and being able to provide good technical feedback. My issue was purely with the assumption that because she is a women, she’s somehow less than a man, as well as the ridiculous notion that desirable positions are constantly being given to women to the detriment of men.

    5. Her latest photo makes her look quite slight, this will be far more of an advantage in F1 than in DTM.

      In fact the castrol rankings website lists her as 168 cm and only 58 kg, i.e. lighter than Massa if slightly taller.

      What we don’t know is how good she is at car set-up, we don’t know what benefit her team mates get from her input or how technically adept she is.

      I think if she’d been hired for a race drive all the criticism would be valid, because we can see the results, and they are not those of an F1 driver. If she’d been picked as a future driver the same thing could be said, but her role is testing and simulator work. If I was running a team I’d want the best person at those things, but sitting outside as we are we have no idea how to judge her performance in that area. the only thing we do know is that she has a number of years experience in DTM, and before that F3 and karting.

      1. Well in 6 years in DTM her best is 7th. I think that’s a pretty good indication that she can’t set up a car. I seriously wonder what Williams are doing with decisions like this. How good can a person be male or female in simulator work with no experience in F1?

  5. “If Pastor is as quick in a car as he looks good out of a car then he will be a massive asset to any team and on top of that he is very intelligent. I am really looking forward to having him in Formula One.”

    That’s a quote from Bernie just before the 2011 season.

  6. mattshaw85 (@)
    11th April 2012, 10:40

    “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”

    That’s… progressive.

    1. @mattshaw85 That was one of the first things I noticed as well. Massive face-palm for Bernie there.

    2. I’m so looking forward to someday seeing a quote like that when a male driver is hired.

    3. Bernie’s comment might have been an attempt to endorse her, but all he’s managed to do is demean her.

      1. Well, He’ll have done it on purpose.

        But you are right, and he was wrong to do so.

    4. I found that highly amusing too. He’s basically saying “Hey, nice peice of eye-candy, just what the sport needs!”

      1. My girlfriend informs me that some of the drivers are already “easy on the eye”.

        Britney will be jealous.

    5. @mattshaw85 Could see it coming a mile off as soon as I saw Ecclestone was making a comment. I imagine he’s just winding us up.

  7. I remeber seeing her in DTM some times. Is she related to paul stoddart?

    1. No, no relation as far as I know.

  8. So Marussia took Maria de Villota last month. Now Williams has Susie Wolff. Who will be next? Simona de Silvestro?

    1. Why do you even need racing credentials, it seems all your really need is to know someone near the top…maybe one of the Ecclestone girls will jump in a car…

    2. didn’t Danica Patrick had an F1-test a few years ago?

      1. @andae23 – She was supposed to test for Honda in 2008, but Honda quit Formula 1 and the test was cancelled. She was then repeatedly linked to USF1 (but so was Kyle Busch), only for them to take Jose Maria Lopez and James Rossiter before they folded (Rossiter’s joining the team was never actually announced, and it wasn’t until over a year later that his manager admitted they had signed up).

    3. Well GP3 have two Female racers in Carmen Jorda and Vicky Piria. Might not be long before we see either of them if not both under contract to a big F1 team.

      1. If those ladies are only half as quick as they look good, they’ll be driving circles around Ms. Wolff.

    4. Danica patrick!!!!!
      I want her in F1 in 2014

      1. @xjr15jaaag – I think you might be the only person who feels that way.

        1. @xjr15jaaag – Agreed. Danica would be a very welcome addition to F1. About time we have some talented women at the top level.

          @prisoner-monkeys – Don’t know where you get that from. Danica Patrick is a quality driver. She’s won an Indy race and is starting to shape up reasonably well in NASCAR. The only thing separating women from success in top-level motorsport is prejudice. That, too, will pass.

    5. Natascha Gaschnang? Alice Powell?

      Natascha is a pretty good racer. A shame she had a horrific accident in GT1 last year (or was it 2010?), she looked pretty promising. Alice Powell has really come alive in last couple of years too, remember watching her on ITV when they played Ginetta Junior highlights 4 or 5 years ago. Actually a good series, some impressive driving from kids as young as 14

      1. @jamesf1 – Powell is good, and certainly very promising, but I think she’s a little too inexperienced for Formula 1. She’s only really competed in low-tier Formula Renault series. As for Gachnang, she’s really dropped off the radar. She was impressive in Spanish Formula 3, but that was four years ago – and she really struggled in Formula 2 and Auto GP.

        Right now, I think Simona de Silvestro is the only female driver who can a) make it into Formula 1, and b) stands a chance at success.

    6. maria teresa de filippis? :P

    7. Polishboy808
      12th April 2012, 0:31

      YES!!! I hope Sim gets a ride in F1 someday….

      Till then, I can only watch in anguish as she struggles with that stupid “Lotus” (read Judd) engine….

  9. Is this a new Bernie Ecclestone masterplan? Encourage all the teams to hire (moderatly) good looking women to drive instead? Nevermind about talent…

    1. If Wolff got a racing seat and impressed, it wouldn’t be the first time someone’s results in other gategories were not representative of their actual talent. Case in point, Kamui Kobayashi.

      1. Kobayahsi won GP2 Asia. Sure he didn’t excel in the main series, but it was obvious he was top-level.

        1. @jholland – GP2 Asia teams were encouraged to field drivers from non-traditional motorsport nations. When Kobayashi won the title, he was competing against the likes of Hamad Al Fardan, Kevin Nai Chia Chen and Mika Mäki, who are hardly household names. When he raced in GP2 proper later that year, he was up against Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Petrov, Maldonado and so on; all of them drivers who would eventually make it to Formula 1. The difference in overall talent between the GP2 and GP2 Asia grids was astronomical.

          1. Yes, I know. But he beat d’Ambrosio, who’s not awful.

            My point is he did win something. Stodart hasn’t won anything.

    2. It’s never about talent anyway, just if you have an impeccable season in GP2 and so many million in the bank thanks to an oil giant. Perfect example, Pastor Maldonado.

    3. Why not, they’ve been hiring moderately good looking men without the necessary talent for years.

  10. Oh, no, was Milka Duno unavailable??

    1. I just googled her. Can you imagine Bernie’s press release if she was picked up by an F1 team??

    2. Seems she’s into NASCAR nowadays just like Danica P.

  11. matthewf1 (@)
    11th April 2012, 11:19

    starting to think that a sex change is looking like my best way into F1

    1. Or just marry a rich older woman and persuade her to take a major shareholding in an F1 team – seems a little less drastic…

  12. As long as she can me it work on her own skill i’d gladly welcome her.

    Well, i’d gladly welcome any woman to F1, the only sad part is that most drivers of them get reeled in
    because of their gender and commercial value then there achievements.

    I hope Susie gets to suprise a few people.

  13. I really am not sure what to make of this announcement.

    The only real sense in putting out this press release seems to 1. get Bahrain out of the news for a few seconds 2. Show how Bernie and Williams are on better terms now that Parr has left. Next to that is shows that F1 is starting to get the idea that female drivers can do the job as well.

    But that typical Berie-esque inappropriate quote? Or the fact that her experience is all touring cars. Her relationship with Toto Wolff. Hm.

    But who knows, maybe it just shows Toto is bringing people who are real racing types into the Williams family. And it still might have to do with improving their simulator for sportscars usage that will get very usefull for developing their hybrid systems in the near future. Or even DTM looking at bringing hybrid systems into that series in the near future.

    1. @BasCB The only real sense in putting out this press release seems to 1. get Bahrain out of the news for a few seconds

      From headlines I’m reading now this is seaming less likely! Looks like it’s all about to go into melt down for Bernie on this one, with no way of getting paid either!!

      As for Susie, well I hope she gets a shot on the track and maybe an FP1 just to get a real idea of how quick she could be in a single seater. But I think from his comments Bernie sees her more as “Eye candy in a ruce suit!” But i’m sure she has many more positive qualities she can bring to Williams!

  14. Richard F150 - I am not a truck
    11th April 2012, 12:33

    If there is another female driver (test or otherwise) appointed in the next month or so I would guess that something interesting is in the works… 3-car mixed sex teams permitted or increased FOM funding perhaps.

  15. I think what we are all missing here is that women need to be forced into formula 1 in order to make them raise their game. For example, the reason why there aren’t that many great women racers is because the pool is very small compared to the pool of men. But if we start adding them to formula 1, as mediocre as they are, little girls will see that it is a possibility, and hopefully the pool of possible female drivers will increase. What I see from all the posts above is the short term outlook on this, but what we need to understand is that long term solutions usually take time. Do I agree with this approach, no. But I do understand what they are trying to achieve.

    1. I certainly do hope that is te plan. I wouldn’t trust them with such a grand manoeuvre if there wasn’t any instant gain involved.

    2. I think that what many are missing is that nowhere in the article does it say she will be driving any car under competitive conditions. She won’t be racing and nor will she be a reserve driver.

      This is not about women driving in Formula 1. This is about a person who has secured a testing and development role.

      1. Flying Lobster 27
        11th April 2012, 14:26

        Agreed; like the nomination of de Villota, let’s not blow this out of proportion.
        Nonetheless, we are still to see a fully honest hiring of a woman on the basis of her racing credentials alone, and not women who are “coincidentally” daughters-of, wives-of or partners-of…

  16. Seems fair enough to me. Not familiar with her credentials when it comes to racing but I imagine she holds some talent when it comes to technical insight, having been pretty involved in the DTM. Some drivers are better suited to development roles than others. Hopefully she can help them shave tenths off here and there.

  17. Hoping not to sound negative or like the kind of superficial person that only judges people by their appearance, but I was wondering how you select your pictures for your articles, Keith (what with copyrights and all).

    In this particular instance, I would have expected a happier picture of Susie.

    1. @adrianmorse You’re right it was a terrible picture, thanks for reminding me! I’ve just replaced it with a less unflattering one Williams have issued.

      1. This one is far better :D

        1. Heh, I was wondering what had triggered the changed picture :)

  18. *read bernie’s quote*


  19. I was wondering when this was going to happen given the connection. It seems this role will be limited to testing which is good as there are far more talented female racing drivers out there.

  20. “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. I am really looking forward to having her in Formula 1.”

    If Bernie is as untrustworthy in the boardroom as he is crass in public, then he will be a massive liability to any organisation, and on top of that, he is entirely unbelievable. I am really looking forward to having him out of F1.

  21. My only concern is that it means even less time for training to Bruno Senna. A team which main ambition is to return to fight for podiums and points should give its full attention to the drivers which can delivery such things. You don´t see Red Bull/Maclaren/Ferrari given away precious training time to test drivers.

    1. What the hell do you think Gary Paffett does all day?

      1. Twitter mostly.

        1. Well the point I was making, is that hes McLaren’s workhorse on the simulator. Therefore such an appointment isnt really limiting running time for the race drivers, but maximising development time.

          She isnt a standout in the DTM, but at the end of the day, they are limited prototypes, and its a fairly high standard field. Theres nothing there to say shes a bad car development driver. If she’d been employed with a view to being installed for a race, then its questionable.

          1. Quoting the article:

            “Susie will also undertake some aerodynamic testing of the FW34 and a full track test in the coming months.”

            What a “full track test” means? Bruno has already lost one day at Sepang for Valtterri Bottas. How many free practices Gary Paffett had last year?

          2. @claudioff

            What a “full track test” means?

            Either the Young Driver’s Test or one of these photo shoots.

  22. A wollff in she clothing?

  23. Jamie Green: 29, British, 7 DTM wins and from 73 races.
    Susie Wolff: 29, British, two 7th place finishes from 61 races.

    Now, far be it from me to suggest this decision was not made based on driving ability…

    1. Maybe Jamie Green despises F1? Or whatever – don’t be so negative.

      1. Yes, I’m sure Jamie Green would hate a cushy job in F1 that allowed him to continue racing in the DTM.

        And I’m not being negative, just cynical. :) I mean no harm. It makes motorsport more bearable. Good luck to Susie, I bare her no ill will.

  24. Just to put things into perspective – Williams employed Kartihkeyan in that role few years back. She will probably do a straight-line aerodynamic tests and simulator work.

  25. Females shouldnt be driving F1 cars, there are males who can hardly drive F1 cars as it is. karthikeyan/Speed/ the list goes on. there are better drivers out there who should get these jobs. even if she i’snt driving its just because she is coppin it from someone in williams.

    1. What an enlightened individual you are.

    2. Go back to your cave.

  26. ….she looks good in Brazilian & Venezuelan sponsorship

  27. Let’s be realistic – this sudden obbsession with female test drivers, in an age of no or little in-season testing, is nothing but posturing from teams looking for PR spin. Danica, love her or hate her, is the only female driver today with any runs on the board in terms of performance. Could she do as good a job as a Petrov, a De La Rosa or even someone like Massa? In my view she probably could. She at least would not be an embarrassment to whatever team put her in a car, unlike certain other drivers we’ve heard about lately…

  28. Finally, an F1 driver I can jerk to.

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