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.