Formula 1

Susie Wolff proving F1 is not a man's world

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Wolff is breaking down barriers for females in motor sport (©GettyImages)
Wolff is breaking down barriers for females in motor sport (©GettyImages).

History was made at the last two Grand Prix weekends as Williams reserve Susie Wolff became the first female to participate in an official F1 session for 22 years.

The Scot, who does much of her work on the team's simulator, was given Valtteri Bottas' car for the opening Friday practice session at the British and German races with differing degrees of success.

Mixed fortunes

Her first outing at Silverstone came to an abrupt end after just seven laps after mechanical problems forced her to pull off the circuit while at Hockenheim, a circuit she knows thanks to her years in DTM, there was success as she achieved a full program completing 22 laps.

With judgement on her participation in F1 reserved by many, mainly because Susie is married to Williams shareholder and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, the 31-year-old impressed showing she does have the pace and perhaps could be worthy of a future race seat if the opportunity arose.

Against a man who was very nearly world champion six years ago in Felipe Massa, Wolff was only two tenths of a second slower and compared to how most reserves compare to the race drivers when they drive in free practice one, that is one of the closest gaps seen in some time.

Immediate future

Currently Wolff is not planned to appear in any more practice sessions in 2014, personally I believe this is a shame because while her knowledge of Hockenheim was key, Wolff could be one to end Formula 1's wait for a female driver actually on the grid.

Time is not necessarily on her side, however, as at 31 she is among the older drivers currently associated with an F1 team.

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There is also a lot of competition from other younger drivers in lower formulas that have a much more impressive racing CV than Wolff.

Finally there is the subject of so-called 'pay drivers' and whether someone who does not have major sponsors can make it into a seat among the majority of midfield teams.

Breaking down barriers

The key then for Wolff if she wants to make into F1 is to keep impressing on the racetrack. Sadly for her it is getting the further opportunities to do just that, that may hold her back, however, what she is doing is proving a female can make it in a male dominated sport.

Susie is not alone in this quest to break down the stereotypical barriers as Sauber also have another exciting prospect in Simona de Silverstro, a young 25-year-old Swiss driver who has impressed in IndyCar and is perhaps the more likely female to make it onto the F1 grid.

But whatever happens with Wolff and with de Silvestro, these girls are out to prove they can make it to the top in motor sport and that is the kind of motivation other females interested in racing need because while it may not be any time soon the chances of finding a female Lewis Hamilton are getting better all the time. 

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