Susie Wolff set for Williams practice outings
Susie Wolff will become the first female driver in 22 years to get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car during a Grand Prix weekend later this season.
Williams has confirmed an expanded “development driver” role for the 31-year-old, which will include running in Free Practice 1 at two Grands Prix, which are expected to be the British and German events.
An ex-DTM regular, Wolff has already enjoyed laps with Williams on several occasions, most recently at last year’s Silverstone young driver test.
Not since the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix, where Giovanna Amati failed to qualify her Brabham-Judd, has a female been a part of a Formula 1 race weekend session.
Williams’ chief technical officer Pat Symonds says that Wolff’s work will play a role in the development of its FW36, which will be raced by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas throughout the season.
“Susie has become a valued member of our driver line up and 2014 will see her take on more responsibilities as we seek to make a strong step forward in performance,” he said.
“Susie has demonstrated a natural talent for developing a car and providing strong feedback and these sort of characteristics will be key this season as teams seek to quickly understand and refine the radically overhauled 2014 cars.”
Wolff, who is married to Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, added that she’s looking forward to the opportunities.
The increased role will also nclude a full day of running during one of the team’s eight in-season test days.
“My responsibilities within the team have steadily increased as I have proved myself, culminating in the opportunity to test the car at Silverstone and conduct straight line aero tests last season,” she said.
“Competing in two FP1 sessions, alongside an additional full test day this season will be a big step and I am looking forward to the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the FW36 on a Grand Prix weekend.
“It’s a challenge that I will relish and it will be a great chance for me to continue assisting the team.”
Wolf’s news follows Sauber’s recent appointment of Swiss IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro to its “affiliated driver” roster.
The team says it will provide the 25-year-old with simulator and track experience in order to “prepare for a race seat for 2015”.
A female driver has not started a World Drivers’ Championship race since Lella Lombardi took part in the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix.