Formula 1

Susie Wolff's F1 hopes hit as Williams appoint Adrian Sutil as reserve

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Williams have announced Adrian Sutil as their new reserve driver for the remainder of the season.

The German's arrival comes after he was dropped by Sauber after just one year with the Swiss outfit as they took on two well-backed drivers for 2015, Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, in a bid to sure up their finances.

While Sutil has always maintained he had a contract in place with Sauber for this year, he didn't opt to take the legal route that former colleague Giedo van der Garde chose in Australia two weeks ago. Instead he has now moved to a team looking to maintain its place at the front of the grid , as a switch to Mercedes engines made them the second fastest team at the end of last season.

Wolff moves down the list

However, what the appointment of Sutil does do is raise questions about the future of Susie Wolff as the Scot now seems to have moved back down the list of Williams reserves after stepping up following the departure of Nasr to Sauber for this year.

The Scot had a couple of Friday practice runs last year and also tested the new FW37 in pre-season testing but, despite some consistent performances, her efforts to become the first female driver to enter a full race weekend since Giovanna Amati in 1992 now appear to have taken a hit.

So close yet so far

The timing of the announcement also comes when it appeared Wolff could be the closest to finally getting an opportunity to show what she could do.

Valtteri Bottas had to pull out of the opening race in Australia after suffering a back injury, and if he had been unable to participate in Malaysia, though he is now officially cleared to take part, Wolff in theory would have been top of the list to replace him, however, now, with Sutil's arrival, he would have been the man to replace the Finn.

Why Adrian Sutil?

The team made it clear that Sutil's experience was the main reason for hiring him into the role, and with 128 race starts its hard to argue against it, but is he a more capable driver than Wolff?

He has had some great drives over his seven year career, with Monaco 2008 instantly coming to mind, but he has forever being part of the midfield battle without really becoming a driver touted for stardom and while experience counts, the hours Wolff will have put in on the simulator means she is far from a rookie herself.

Looking beyond the corporate talk, money can't really be considered a motive neither. Yes Williams could always do with more funds as they look to fight with the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari but Sutil was one of a few drivers who didn't have millions in his back pocket to offer.

Will she ever step up?

While the greater furore that could have erupted if Bottas had been unable to drive has been avoided, it does still raise the spectre of what exactly a female driver has to do to make it on the F1 grid.

Susie Wolff is the best hope the sport has had to break the male domination out on track in a long number of years but the probability of her finally making the final jump up is looking less and less every year.

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