Susie WolffEnlarge Photo
While women racers are a non-issue in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing - and even in the IZOD IndyCar Series, which has Katherine Legge and Simona de Silvestro as full-timers - as well as NASCAR's Nationwide Series with Danica Patrick as its best-known female competitor, Formula One has been a male-dominated entity with very few exceptions.
Now Susie Wolff is Williams F1 Team's newest test driver. Driving for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM touring car for several seasons, Scottish lass Wolff has been hired as a development driver at Williams, helping the team with simulator tests, working on the aerodynamics of this year's FW34 chassis and being called upon to conduct track tests at upcoming grands prix.
The wife of Toto Wolff, a Williams F1 Team Board member and part owner of the team, Susie Wolff has prepared for this drive in the customary manner, starting in karts, moving to junior single-seat series and twice being considered as Young Driver of the Year before driving in DTM, where this year she'll contest her seventh season.
"Susie is a talented, successful and highly professional racing driver who competes in one of the world's most fiercely-contested racing series," said Sir Frank Williams, team principal. He noted that "her appointment was carefully considered and approved by the Board with Toto recusing himself from the process."
Susie Wolff, of course thanked Sir Frank "for giving me this opportunity both on and off the track. I must also thank Mercedes-Benz AMG and HWA for supporting me to take up this new experience. Formula One is the ultimate challenge for any racing driver and it offers me the chance both to apply and to improve the skills I have developed racing in DTM.
"I hope to demonstrate that women can play a role at the highest levels of motorsports and I shall be working closely with the team on its social responsibility program in the areas of education and road safety," she added.
Bernie Ecclestone, the chief executive of Formula One's holding company - who once called Danica Patrick a "domestic appliance" had this comment: "If Susie is as quick in a car as she looks good out of a car, then she will be a massive asset to any team and on top of that she is very intelligent. I am really looking forward to having her in Formula One."