Susie Wolff: Hanging up Her Helmet
Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff, has announced she is formally giving up her dream to become the first female driver to reach an F1 grid since Lella Lombardi made 12 starts in the series between 1975-1976. However, she did manage to come close at both the 2014 British GP at Silverstone and German Grand Prix, where she participated in the first Friday practice session in both of those race weekends. She became the first woman to drive in a Grand Prix weekend since Giovanna Amati in 1992.
Born December 6, 1982 in Oban, Scotland, Susie (nee Stoddart) began karting from an early age, and in 1996 she was named the British Woman Kart Racing Driver of the Year. In 1997, she competed in a number of different karting categories and succeeded in most of them, including winning the 24-hr Middle East Kart Championship, champion in both the Scottish Junior Intercontinental “A” and the Scottish Open Junior Intercontinental “A” categories. She was again named British Woman Kart Racing Driver of the Year.
In 1998 she moved up to the British Junior Intercontinental “A” Championship and was placed 10th overall in her first season in the class. She also competed in the Federation Cup European Intercontinental “A” Championship and she was placed 11th overall, as well as named British Woman Kart Racing Driver of the Year, before being crowned Top Female Kart Driver in the World the following year.
From there, Wolff moved up to single-seater racing, driving for Motaworld Racing in the 2001 Formula Renault Winter Series. In 2003, she again competed in the Formula Renault UK Championship where she finished 9th overall and made her first podium finish this season, as well. She achieved recognition for her efforts this year as she was selected as one of the finalists in the prestigious BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award and was selected as the BRDC Rising Star of the Year. This was followed by a 3 podium finish for the Comtec Racing team in 2004.
Wolff progressed to the British Formula 3 Championship to race for the Alan Docking Racing team in the Championship Class in 2005, but was sidelined by an ankle injury suffered during the winter. Susie did however, make a one-off appearance in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Brands Hatchin in June before returning to competition in 2006. This time she moved up to drive a 2004-spec Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe for the Mücke Motorsport team in the DTM, the German Touring Car series. She remained in the series through 2012.
After marrying Toto in October 2011, Susie was named as a development driver for the Williams Formula One team (of which she and husband Toto were stockholders) the following April, and promoted to test-driver for 2015. During her tenure with the team, she played a role in the development of the FW35, FW36 and FW37 through extensive simulator work alongside getting behind the wheel for straight line aerodynamic tests and during numerous test days.
Wolff, however, has decided to retire from all motorsports following the Race of Champions at the Olympic Stadium in London on November 20-21, along with Williams driver Felipe Massa.
Claire Williams, deputy team principal said, “It has been a pleasure to work with Susie over the years and see her develop as a driver within the team. Her feedback and knowledge of the car has been an important part our recent development and we will be sorry to see her go. We want to thank her for all her efforts and wish her the very best for her future endeavors.”
In turn, Wolff thanked Williams for the opportunity given to her the last few years