Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes AMG F1 shareholder Toto Wolff is to head F1 Academy. As Managing Director of the F1 Academy, Wolff will report directly to F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali. Could this be the beginnings of a Wolff takeover of the FIA?
Former Williams F1 test driver Susie Wolff (ne Stoddart) has been appointed managing director of the new all-female category launched by Formula One this year – the F1 Academy.
Announced in November, the F1 Academy is an all-women’s series comprising five teams, 15 drivers and 21 races across a range of tracks on the F1 calendar.
Susie Wolff has a wealth of experience in motorsport, both as a test driver in Formula 1 for the Williams team and as a team principal in Formula E where she led Venturi. As Managing Director of the F1 Academy, Wolff will report directly to F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali.
Wolff to become a FIA managing director
Alongside Susie Wolff, F1 Academy Managing Director Bruno Michel will continue to report to Stefano Domenicali and manage the operational aspects of the series, as he has done with the F2 and F3 championships previously.
“It is great news that Susie Wolff is joining the F1 Academy as Managing Director,” said Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali.
“Susie is an incredible person who understands what it takes to reach the highest levels of motorsport, both as a driver and Team Principal.”
“She has a wealth of experience and first-hand knowledge that will be of great benefit to all of us and to the drivers who are moving up the racing pyramid.”
“We are committed to maximising opportunities in our sport for everyone to reach their true potential and achieve their dreams and we believe the F1 Academy is a very important part of our plans to become a more diverse and inclusive sport.”
The 2023 F1 Academy season begins on April 28 in Austria at the Spielberg track and ends on October 22 in Austin, USA.
Conflict of interest?
Of course, the position within the FIA is specific to that Academy series, and with Susie Wolff being one of the few women in the last decade to actually have driven a then-modern Formula 1 car professionally (testing for Williams), she is well qualified as a role model for a senior position.
But questions must be asked if there is a conflict of interest when the wife of a senior and part owner in a leading F1 team, is now management within the ‘neutral’ sports governing body, namely the FIA.
Without answering such topics, F1 Academy chief executive Susie Wolff says: “The F1 Academy offers an opportunity to promote real change in our industry by creating the best possible structure to find and nurture female talent on their journey to the elite levels of motorsport, both on and off the track.”
“There is a lot of work to be done, but there is also a clear desire to get it right. In doing so, I think the F1 Academy can represent something beyond racing.”
“It can inspire women around the world to follow their dreams and realise that with talent, passion and determination there is no limit to what they can achieve.”
“This is also the start of an important new chapter in my career, combining the experience I have developed so far with my passion for diversity and empowerment, so I would like to thank Stefano [Domenicali] for entrusting me with a role that means so much to me personally as well as professionally.”