Susie Wolff retires: What does this mean for women in F1?


Williams have announced they are to part company with Susie Wolff at the end of the year. Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal commented: “It has been a pleasure to work with Susie over the years and see her develop as a driver within the team. Her feedback and knowledge of the car has been an important part of our recent development and we will be sorry to see her go”

“We want to thank her for all her efforts and wish her the very best for her future endeavours. We will of course be supporting both Susie and Felipe at the Race of Champions, and hope Susie has a great weekend to mark the last time we see her race.”

The Williams female driver was given two FP1 sessions in 2014 at Silverstone and Hockenheim together with FP1 at the 2015 SPanish GP. This made her the first woman since Giovanna Amati in 1992 to take part in an F1 weekend.

Susie Wolff is appreciative of the opportunity she has been given. “I’d like to thank Williams for the opportunity they have given me over the last few years which has allowed me to achieve my dream of driving a Formula 1 car,” Susie said.

“It has been great to work with everyone at the team, both at Grove and trackside, and I’d like to thank everyone who has been part of my journey at Williams. I am now closing this chapter but looking forward to new challenges in the future.”

The writing was on the wall for the next hope of a female F1 driver at the 2015 season opener in Melbourne. Valtteri Bottas injured his back during qualifying and was admitted to hospital. The medical advice was that he did not race the next day.

This of course raised hopes that there would finally be a female driver competing again in F1 at the Australian GP. However, it transpired that Susie Wolff had not been registered as the team’s reserve driver, but only as a test driver. Adrian Sutil was hurriedly announced the following week as William’s reserve driver for 2015.

Never one to miss a trick, Bernie Ecclestone subsequently floated the idea of a Formula One for women only. Needless to say, this caused a heated debate on the equality of opportunity for women in Formula One.

The FIA’s commission for women in motorsport however took a dim view of Bernie’s new idea. President Michele Mouton stated, “The idea of an all-women competition is not something we would dismiss without proper debate and research. But from my own experience as a competitor, I truly believe women want to compete on an equal level with their male counterparts. They have proved through the decades that it is possible, even if only a few.”

Mouton questioned Ecclestone’s motives for his latest wheeze: “Maybe when he sees the F1 audience decreasing he thinks about solutions and about women only for the show! I am annoyed and very disappointed!”

Sauber also raised the hopes of those who believe there is a place in F1 for a female driver when in February 2014 they announced Simona de Silvestro would join the team as an “affiliated driver.” Silvestro was to undergo a year long training programme “with the ultimate objective of racing in 2015”, Sauber claimed. Simona tested with the team in Fioranao and completed 112 laps there in April 2014.

However, in October 2014, Monisha Kaltenborn revealed that the team had suspended their relationship with de Silvestro’s, due to ‘contractual troubles’.

In a recent interview, Susie Wolff revealed her lack of optimism for women in F1. “Do I think it will happen soon? Sadly no. We have two issues, not enough young girls starting in karting at a young age and no clear role model. Sometimes you just have to see it to believe it.”

So with the passing of Wolff, the hope of a women driving in F1 anytime soon is now over – despite Lotus having recruited Carmen Jorda who is a favourite at race weekends with the FOM TV director.

This leaves Giovanna Amati’s record in tact as the last female racing driver entered in the Formula One World Championship back in 1992, for Bernie’s old team Brabham.

22 responses to “Susie Wolff retires: What does this mean for women in F1?

  1. When I read this I must admit I figured she was packing it in to start a family. I would not be surprised to hear of her and Toto expecting a child in the next 12 months. I do not mean that in a sexist way in any shape or form

  2. The cold hard fact is she wasn’t good enough, ..ok so there is plenty of guys that get to F1 who aren’t good enough either but they usually come with a big sponsor and put in the time required to get up to speed. However I’m sure there will be a Female F1 won race winner before long. The Sponsors are dying for something fresh and a female in F1 PR frenzy is what they are all waiting for.

  3. I’ve no problem with women racing in F1, F1 should be about having the best drivers in cars regardless of race, gender, religion etc. The problem with F1s approach to women at present is that none of the current crop of females angling for a drive have proven themselves to be better than anyone in GP2, let alone F1.

    Susie, didn’t win a race in her professional career, not in Formula 3, Formula Renault or DTM. Putting her in a car would have been nothing more than positive discrimination, and in my eyes that’s little better than any other type of discrimination.

    If women want to get into F1, get out there and win a feeder series, win GP2 and prove yourselves, it’s a damn sight cheaper to enter than F1 too! Up until then? Well you’ve no place in F1, just like the many many men who race who haven’t won a feeder series either.

    N.b. Obviously if someone wants a seat in F1 enough they can pay mega bucks to the likes of Manor and go racing, though that won’t help women in motorsport anywhere near as much as a female winning GP2 (or similar) and getting a race seat in F1 on talent rather than their wallet/purse.

  4. ***Warning: Non-PC and unpopular opinion.***

    Susie was crap. Her “retirement” from something she was never in – not even as a reserve driver – is… amusing.

    I’d say that about any driver (male, female, it, pre-op, post-op, black, white, yellow, albino, gay, bi, straight, tri, quad, of this earth, extraterrestrial, physical, meta, lefty, righty, liberal, conservative, fiscally responsible, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Scientologist, bald, hairy, blue-green-brown eyed, disabled, abled, old, young, dwarf or giant) who had her results in the series she competed in, then somehow “retired” from F1 – a series she was never actually in – after hanging round as a useless bad smell. Even crashdonato won the GP2 series, albeit after a few tries – and we want him out, don’t we?

    Equality? Well, it’s not all roses n’ sunshine. But you know the best part about equality – as it’s being defined in our modern times – is that the seeming beneficiaries of the inequality don’t have to beat around the bush anymore.

    Sorry Susie, but you’re not even close to “not good enough”, and you don’t have petro-dollars underpinning your career. Retirement? Ok, let’s call it that.

      • Regardless… what’s she been “racing”?

        I understand your point, the subtle difference; but it doesn’t change much, does it?

        What’s the retirement from?

        Anyway, even with the equality and all that, bashing women (too much) online still doesn’t feel right. So, well, good luck with “retirement” Mrs. Wolff.

        • The F1 bar is pretty low when you see Turtle Chilton in a seat for two years. Is it misogynistic to say I would have rather seen her ass in the Marussia then Chilton’s?

    • Well put.
      Unfortunately we’ve reached a stage in western cultural disintegration where it’s almost impossible to state the blindingly obvious without being accused of some form of discrimination. Unless it’s something “positive” such as “Germans are very efficient”, which is never criticised as “racism”, unlike “Germans are authoritarian”. To my mind the ability to discriminate accurately is one of the more useful characteristics of a fully-formed mind.
      It’s a desperate situation when the non-retirement of a F1 non-competitor like this one is F1 news item. Who gives a sh!t about Suzie Wolff?

    • I think in here, your opinion will be popular but rightly so.
      Fuck race, religion, sexe or whatever. It’s about delivering in this world. And about looking yourself in the eye and admitting what went wrong and then coping with it.


    • LOL! I never understood why Williams didn’t use her as the reserve driver? Surely it would only have got them some good publicity?

      I can’t see the upside to bringing in Sutil like that. He didn’t know the team and would have been lucky to have got in the points, had he actually raced.

      For one race weekend I would have thought the positive publicity of using Susie Wolff would outweigh the outside chance a pay-driver who can’t even get a regular drive managing to score a lucky point or two…

  5. Well, Suzie has inspired me. It’s with a heavy heart that I too announce my retirement from racing (I too, do not race anything, but you never know what might have been).
    I was never going to make it to the F1 grid at this stage now was I.
    Ah well.

  6. Too bad for her, best of luck, but the topic of ‘women in F1’ is absolutely futile. F1 should be about the best pilots whomever they are and wherever they come from.

  7. Wolff explaining her gender wasn’t why she didn’t make F1. Respect for that, Susie. Classy and honest.

    “I always said it was my goal to get onto that starting grid because I wanted to prove what I was capable of – I managed that every time I got in the car at the test sessions that I competed in. But the pinnacle of the sport is on the grid and every driver is fighting for one of those spaces. I don’t believe I didn’t make it onto the grid just because of my gender.”

    “F1 is a very performance-based environment, it doesn’t really matter what your gender is. There’s nobody pushing to get equality in the paddock – you are simply in the job you do for your performance and the performance you bring. Gender really is a secondary. Don’t forget in my sport, when I’m out on track I’m wearing a helmet – nobody sees what I look like, nobody sees my gender. All that really matters is the stopwatch and the performance that I show.”

    Good luck at RoC,.

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