Susie Wolff to be first to drive Williams FW35

2013 F1 season

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Williams have confirmed development driver Susie Wolff will be the first to drive their new car in February.

Wolff will drive the FW35 at a test day at Idiada in Spain. The team said Wolff’s programme will be expanded in 2013 and see her conduct “the majority of aerodynamic testing this season” and more simulator work.

Technical director Mike Coughlan said: “Susie has proved herself to be a valuable addition to our driver roster and her feedback during simulator sessions is second to none.

“As a result we will be stepping up her role this year and I’m looking forward to the progress we can make with Susie’s input in conjunction with that of Pastor [Maldonado] and Valtteri [Bottas].”

“Last year was a valuable experience and I certainly feel that I’ve developed a lot as a driver,” said Wolff.

“Increasing my role this year will further this progression and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the FW35 for the first time next month.

“I’m showing that women can play a role at the top level of motorsport and would like to thank Sir Frank Williams and the whole of the technical team for the trust they continue to show in me.”

Wolff is the partner of former Williams executive director Toto Wolff, who left the team to join Mercedes last week.

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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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53 comments on “Susie Wolff to be first to drive Williams FW35”

  1. Good on her, nice to see she is still part of the set up at Williams and now fully relinquished of the ties to her husband (real or not),

    1. Fully relinquished of the ties to her husband? I’m ready to bet that she got that drive only because of her husband.

      Of all the promising young drivers, plus some experienced ones without a drive this year, why would Williams go for her?

      You gotta understand that Herr Wolfenstein has a lot to do with this drive.

      1. @brace Young drivers are exactly what you don’t want doing your development work. They’d have even less experience than Susie!

        1. Exactly. I’m not surprised Susie gives the best feedback of Williams’ drivers. The other two don’t have anywhere near the worldly motorsport experience she does.

          If you’ll forgive the term, a Journeyman driver is typically a top tester. They are the ones who do their homework, because they recognise that they don’t have the raw talent of a Vettel or a Hamilton. When that type of person sticks at something for a long time they learn how to make the car go fast, even if they themselves can’t make it go as fast as someone like Alonso.

    2. I do not wish to criticise but the fact that her husband is an owner of the team may in some small way have contributed to her selection for the job.

      1. Nepotism likely got her the job (development driver is a bit of a ‘non-job’ apart from a bit of PR), but if she was hanging on his every decision and whim, wouldn’t she be currently sporting Mercedes overalls?

  2. I hate it when women use their gender to get jobs. While I would not automatically say Susie has done that, her comment “I’m showing that women can play a role at the top level of motorsport” shows that it is a factor.

    1. I don’t see how that quote means what you say it does.

      The quote says ‘being a woman hasn’t stopped me doing this’. It does not say ‘I got this job because I’m a woman’.

    2. Do you hate it when men use their gender to get jobs? Ridiculous.

      1. Men dont go around saying “being a man hasn’t stopped me doing this’

        1. Men don’t live in a world where that’s a problem.

        2. They do in some professions, those where most people look at you in a strange way if you do them being male.

          1. BasCB, you’re absolutely correct and I apologize. We most definitely do live in a world where gender is still an issue in a lot of walks of life and I oversimplified in the opposite direction.

          2. @hwikii, off course in general your point is true, that you see men showing they got somewhere despite being male far less, because its not that much of an issue for the majority.

            But you should pick up your kid from nursing school (or be the one to take him to the doctor during school hours) and endure the surprised and even suspicious looks on the (99% female) faces at the playground/school to see gender issues still cloud our better judgement :-)

    3. I would prefer if gender wasn’t an issue at all personally, women and men alike shouldn’t have to make any comments on their gender at all when relating it to their job. Who gets a drive in F1 should be purely skill-based.

      1. But it’s not – for men or women. I think a lot of people would prefer that gender (or ethnicity, religion, take your pick) didn’t factor in to how people were perceived but they do.

        A woman hasn’t made an F1 start since 1976. I cannot imagine that in all that time, there haven’t been women who were qualified to do so, who didn’t get a start. Comparatively, in that same time period, more than a dozen women have started races for Indy teams (About half of whom started races since 2000).

        Even if it’s just an ‘interest in motorsports’ issue, as iis often cited when talking about women in sports (or science, or anything else), there’s no arguing that women are inherently less talented, so perhaps more should be done to encourage girls to be interested in motorsports (sports, science).

        These are actual issues, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be for some to discuss.

        1. I need to clarify the above, what I meant by “There is no arguing” I meant, “You can’t possibly argue“… I am strongly disagreeing with the idea that women are inherently less talented at motorsports (or many things) than men. Not suggesting that their inferiority is inarguable…

          1. @hwkii, that was a close call, lucky you spotted it in time. I am pretty sure that any female driver as talented as say TG, KK or HK, would not be sitting out this year for lack of a seat, the sponsor interest would ensure a ride, even more so if she was good looking. It may or may not be p.c. but that’s showbiz.

          2. @HoHum Yeah… I reread that and went scrambling for an edit button! ;)

            We live in a world of F1 where sponsorship counts, sometimes as much as or more than talent. This is arguably the case with those drivers you mentioned being without a drive. It’s unfortunate that it’s still the immediate assumption made by a lot of fans that the only reason a female is driving is because they are bringing in the sponsors.

            The truth is, even the greats like Fernando wouldn’t be anywhere near Formula 1 without significant investments in his talent by enormous corporations.

            I don’t think attractiveness plays in to it, if we’re honest. Look at the grid, there’s plenty of eyecandy up there. Even if the particular eyecandy we have now generally has their genitals on the outside… ;)

  3. Doesn’t she usually just pootle around at the back of the DTM field?

    1. @elbasque 71 starts, four points, best finish seventh. No points in the last two seasons. It’s hard to put a positive spin on that.

      1. With that kind of record i think it is shame she has been brought into F1. Evidently it will bring PR interest but I suspect there will also be the negative backlash if she miles off the pace (which based on the evidence seems likely). Even for a pay reverse driver that is an record awful.

        F1 and Motorsport will only have a stronger female contingent if the drivers are good enough for the job. I imagine she will do more harm than good.

        1. The job is testing, not racing. As I explained above sometimes the best testers are the ones who stick at it without getting the results on track.

      2. @keithcollantine Lovely pink car though…

      3. I guess the only thing to say to give it less of an also-ran idea, is that in DTM the top drivers have the new cars, and the others often drive previous years cars. But still …

  4. Williams started to make way for Mercedes engines :))). I’m joking, but think about it.

    1. I think you got a very believable conspiracy theory there

    2. yeah, I don’t see how he being the major development driver for Williams and him a key player at Mercedes is NOT going to result in an exchange of confidential information—however ancillary or accidental that exchange may be. If I was on either team I would be at least a little bit concerned.

      Now, if Williams had Mercedes engines or if there were other significant partnerships between the two it would be less of a worry.

      Boggles my mind.

    3. Perhaps Mercedes are expecting to lose Force India as a customer and are looking for a new partnership. Then again, Williams only just teamed up with Renault…

      1. As they did with Coswort before mate :)

  5. Still, as Susie Stoddart she barely broke the top 15 in DTM… why is she doing sim and straight line work, when there are race winners in F3.5, GP2, F2, F3, GP3 and DTM that are burgeoning talents? Surely there are more suitable up and coming female drivers that can be a valid contributing member to the team, which I’m sure Susie is, but also have a chance of become a serious contender in a feeder series with a view to racing in F1.

    1. Surely race winners in the feeder series should be chasing *more* than just PR & straight-line work…

  6. She wasn’t that bad actually. Her Machinery was always 2 or 3 years out of date and she achieved top 10 finishes in it. In her debut season (2006) she ran a 2004 spec car and finished 1st out of the 2004 spec cars 6 times that year. In a hard fought category like the DTM that isn’t too shabby at all and its probably more of a crime that she didn’t get offered a top drive in the series.

    1. @coefficient Still Di Resta arrived in DTM the year after she did and won a race in a two-year-old car. That says ‘F1 potential’ rather more emphatically.

      1. No he did not.

        1. @clk-gtr Ah, you’re right – I had it in mind he did but now I check I see he only finished second.

          Still that’s a heck of a lot more impressive. He even led the championship at one stage.

          1. And it defenitely was why he got picked up in a better team/car, won and got the FI drive. Because he impressed.

          2. Mortara did the same. And now also won the Daytona GT race. And beat Di Grassi in Macau last year in a Audi GT car. There’s a guy that deserves a go at F1.

      2. @keithcollantine Yes, but there has never been any question of Susie racing in F1. The FW34 has been a good car squandered by its race drivers. If her development driving is as good as we are led to believe then she must have been royally peeved watching her “faster” team mates bend it week in week out.

        Also, Frank is not one to pussy foot around and wouldn’t employ a dev driver unless he was going to get some worthwhile return on his investment.

  7. I think some people are being a bit harsh on Suzi. She certainly doesn’t warrant a race seat, but she’s not employed as a race driver, she’s there as a development driver.
    De la Rosa barely warranted a race seat but there’s no denying he was a great development driver if those in the know are to be believed. Who’s to say Suzi is not the same.

    1. I agree, well said @frogster.

  8. Great. Why doesn’t he just buy 51% and give her a race seat. I shouldn’t be too hard on Williams because it’s the stupid financial setup in F1 that leads to clowns like Wolff being sought out to take shares in teams. I’m looking at you CVC.

    1. It is absolutely nothing to do with CVC or FOM that Red Bull and McLaren are spending 300 million dollars a year on development and (especially in RBR’s case) resisting attempts to introduce cost controls.

      1. @ilanin, regardless of what Red Bull and McLaren spend to put on a show or how much FWR spend it is incontrovertible that with CVC taking 50% of total revenue, hundreds of millions of dollars a year that the teams earn is being lost to “investors” rather than being returned to the teams to help with their budgets.

        1. Firstly, CVC doesn’t take 50% of total revenue. FOM’s revenue streams are from TV rights and sanctioning fees. The teams don’t earn any of the money that CVC gets – Bernie Eccelstone earns that money, by squeezing it out of circuits and national governments and generally pushing F1’s profile to developing nations/regions as the way to signpost that you’ve arrived in the 21st century.

          The revenue streams that Bernie built, Bernie has held onto (half of, which he judges is about as much as he can hold onto while keeping a 10-team circus running). Seems fair enough to me.

          The idea that the quality of the show (ie, what the teams are working towards) somehow bears some relation to the amount of money that F1 rakes in is laughable – if it was true, F1 would have far more money now than in the pre-crash period, which it obviously doesn’t.

          1. @ilanin, I am baffled by your response and don’t know where to begin, I will try starting at the beginning; “the teams don’t earn any of the money that CVC gets”, this is totally illogical, without the teams spending hundreds of millions to build cars and race them there would be nothing to sell the TV rights and sanction fees for and as such no money for CVC or Bernie. You also left out the on-track advertising which FOM totally control and take all proceeds from, probably not a huge amount compared with team budgets but I am sure the track owners would rather they could use that money to keep their facilities updated and pay of their loans.
            I am really getting sick and tired of having to point out this all to obvious burden on F1, but as long as people like yourself keep blaming the teams and not FOM for the trouble F1 is in I will have to continue.

  9. Why not? Generous words from Mike Coughlan, and it’s not as if she’ll be anywhere near a race drive. I guess they don’t need a ‘new Bottas’ to train up to race next year: more likely the plan is to keep him and Maldonado for longer, unless it goes really well and they can attract someone even better.

    And if one of the race drivers broke a leg or got banned or something, there’s almost a gridful of decent ex-F1 drivers now who could step in: Glock, Kobayashi and all the rest of those guys.

  10. The girl only got the job because of her husband. Plain and simple. Williams will most likely keep her around a little while until the situation clears with regards to engines in 2014. Its useful to have some kind of link to Mercedes.

  11. Just to stay in trend as I notice Hamilton haven’t been mention in this thread I think Hamilton expect to crash less with williams this year

  12. Good to see Coughlan is doing the talking now Gillen has moved on.

  13. Wow, y’all come across as redneck misogynists.
    Frank Williams is a tough, tough guy. He doesn’t hand out prime seats for testers to just anyone – there can be no doubt in his mind at least that Susie Wolff is a top-talent tester, a great communicator and generally a very technical driver.
    Most of us aren’t fit to shine Sir Frank’s shoes, let alone criticise his choice of staff.
    If I was female I’d be extremely unhappy about the bulk of these comments. Shame on many of you.

      1. Nikander Pellonpaa
        30th January 2013, 4:53


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