Susie Wolff, Venturi, Formula E, 2018

Formula E’s women racers test must have “credibility” – Wolff

Formula E

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Venturi Formula E team principal Susie Wolff says next month’s test for women racers must showcase credible talents who are not “completely out of their depth”.

Seven drivers have been confirmed for the test which will take place on December 16th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Wolff, whose team will run former Formula E and IndyCar racer Simona de Silvestro in the test, said the test must be a genuine opportunity for development rather than a marketing exercise.

“I was quite vocal in how the concept should be transported and run properly, rather than just creating an opportunity which creates a lot of attention but actually doesn’t have any fundamental credibility or any long-lasting impact is not going to be positive change for the long run,” said Wolff.

“We had quite some discussions at our team principals meeting that actually teams will run a female driver if they find one that they want to run, that’s of the right level. There will be no different sessions for different levels, there will be no women just put in the car out of completely out of their depth.”

“I lost a very good friend of mine who should never have been in the situation that she was,” Wolff added.

Oliver Turvey, NIO, Formula E testing, Valencia, 2018
Jamie Chadwick will test for NIO
Wolff said her input into the arrangements for Formula E’s test were “taken on board”. She said she is “very confident that we have now created an opportunity that is going to have a very positive impact and show not just the Saudi community but the wider world what’s possible.

“You can’t underestimate the impact of seeing women on track, that’s something visible that women can identify with and that’s role models to which they can aspire.”

Seven of Formula E’s 11 teams have taken advantage of the opportunity to run an extra car to field a female racer. In addition to De Silvestro, Mahindra will run a car for fellow ex-Formula E/IndyCar driver Katherine Legge, Sauber F1 test driver Tatiana Calderon will drive for Techeetah, BMW Andretti has selected ex-Red Bull Junior Team driver Beitske Visser, former Lotus F1 test driver Carmen Jorda will appear for Nissan, British F3 race winner Jamie Chadwick has been confirmed at NIO and Emirati racer Amna Al Qubaisi will appear for Virgin.

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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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 17 comments on “Formula E’s women racers test must have “credibility” – Wolff”

    1. Really? REALLY? Susie “I literally didn’t deserve any of the many opportunities I got after 2007” Wolff is talking about testing needing to feature credible talent and then has the audacity to invoke the death of María de Villota – a young woman who was at the very least Wolff’s equal when it comes to talent (damning with faint praise, I know) – as a justification. This is unironically the most sickening statement I have heard in motorsport this year and that is an achievement.

      As far as I am concerned, this person who embodies the worst aspects of nepotism and quota hires and provides empirical evidence of the Dunning-Kruger effect literally every time she opens her mouth has disqualified herself even further from being a credible representative of women in motorsport than I even thought possible. We as a motorsport community really have to consider whether we are acting ethically responsibly if we give her further platform to spread her self-righteous hypocrisy.

      1. I don’t see her claim she was a good driver? And if we look back on the incident which blinded De Villota, she was put in a car she knew not too much about and the anti-stall forced the car forward into the open loading deck of a truck. She wasn’t the first driver caught out by anti-stall, nor the last. Fair to say she should not have been put in that situation, no?

        The list of women drivers taking part looks good, with the exception of Jorda who only looks good herself. No doubt the test will reveal it.

        1. Well said @Bart, fully agree with that.

        2. How much did Tatiana Calderon know about the Sauber she tested a few weeks ago? I’m sure before De Villota was put in the car, she had to first go through the necessary simulator training etc so as to familiarise herself with the car. So i don’t think it’s fair to make that comment, because that would imply negligence on the part of Marussia

          1. I don’t think De Villota did much simulator work just to prepare for that straight line test.

      2. I don’t think her statements are even credible. She is saying all those things just to give an appearance or “genuine opportunity” because she knows there is really big problem with that. It is a test where you need to be a woman to be able to take part. As far as having the skills of the racing driver it seems finishing 15th in formula 3 when you are 25 is good enough… Or finishing 28th in gp3…

        In some ways it is weird to read how there is a sexism problem in motorsports when literally any woman who can do a full season in f3 running at the back of the grid in a front running team gets an f1 drive and more publicity than you could ever imagine if you were the wrong gender. If you go and check past fia f3 and gp3 seasons you can pretty much see how all women who participated and did more than handful of races got to do f1 in some form or other despite literally awful race results. Meanwhile there are guys who won the series and never even got a lukewarm handshake for their troubles.

      3. @klon @ Bart
        I guess you’re both right. Bart, it seems you’re arguing against a point (implicitly) made by Wolff, not by @klon.

        I guess the only positive takeaway from her statement is that she’s every bit as disproportionately self-assertive as are former male drivers with distinctly underwhelming careers. In that sense, it’s a good day for gender equality.

      4. @klon @bosyber @socksolid

        In my opinion, her own level of success as a racer has absolutely nothing to do with the very valid points she is trying to make. Look at all the other people in F1 who tried their hand at racing careers, failed miserably, but went to have a lot of success in other roles in motorsport.

        Give people a break and let them move on with their lives and try their best.

        1. Well said @shimks (Palmer makes a great bbc 5 live radio commentator, even if there could be doubts about his pedigree as a F1 driver).

    2. “test for women” in Saudi Arabia. How appropriate…

    3. Susie’s ‘Dare 2 be different’ and MBE must also have more credibility.

    4. Teammanagers need to be as credible as the drivers….

    5. Susie is only where she is because of her husband. Her racing record is laughable, she should have got nowhere near F1 cars. Not a single win, pole or fastest lap in her 10+ season career. Best finish in championship 5th with 3 podiums.
      So what happens if a rich team boss wants his daughter/wife in the car?

    6. Make no mistake, a good solid female F3 driver finishing on the podium regularly will be given more than enough opportunities to glide into F1 with ease.

    7. They could recruit Carmen Jorda as special advisor?

    8. More social engineering, when many more boys want to be racing drivers than many girls want.

    9. I agree with everything quoted in the article. I think she’s bold to
      address, and I’ll paraphrase with my experience and understanding of it: There are these loving, but alpha-type patriarchs and a ‘kid’ shows a bit of
      spunk and aptitude and it gets blown up. They find themselves being
      pushed. A person that’s pushed to perform at a level they have not
      trained long and hard enough for will run out of confidence in a tight
      spot and it’s not safe.

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