Susie Wolff: It was incredible, I’ve dreamed about this day for a long time

Susie Wolff (GBR) Williams Development Driver, drives the Williams FW33. Williams F1 Team Media & Partner Day, Silverstone, England, Wednesday 17 October 2012.

Susie Wolff during her test day with the Williams FW33

Oct.17 (Reuters) Williams development driver Susie Wolff paid tribute to seriously injured Marussia tester Maria De Villota after having her first drive in a Formula One car at a damp Silverstone circuit on Wednesday, but nevertheless realised a long held dream.

Susie Wolff (GBR) Williams Development Driver, drives the Williams FW33. Williams F1 Team Media & Partner Day, Silverstone, England, Wednesday 17 October 2012.Spaniard De Villota, the last woman behind the wheel of a Formula One car, lost her right eye and fractured her skull in a horrific accident at a straight-line test at Duxford airfield in eastern England last July.

“She is an incredible lady. Before you even talk about her as a racing driver, she is an incredible person, an inspiration,” Wolff told reporters after her first session in the unsuccessful Williams FW33, the team’s 2011 F1 entry.

“We were in contact a couple of weeks ago and she told me to drive for the both of us now, that I would be out there representing us both.

“I had Maria’s star on my helmet, it’s with pride I have that, and without a doubt I was driving for the two of us,” added the 29-year-old Scottish-born driver.

Wolff, whose Austrian husband Toto is a Williams shareholder and director, normally races in the German Touring Car (DTM) championship and was thrilled to be achieving a lifetime’s ambition.

Susie Wolff (GBR), Williams Development Driver, drives the Williams FW33. Williams F1 Team Media & Partner Day, Silverstone, England, Wednesday 17 October 2012.Only a handful of women have driven Formula One cars in the last decade and none have come near to actually racing in F1.

Before De Villota, who also tested a Renault in 2011, Britain’s Katherine Legge drove a Minardi at Italy’s Vallelunga circuit in 2005 and American Sarah Fisher carried out a demonstration run in a McLaren at Indianapolis at the 2002 U.S. Grand Prix.

The last woman to start a Formula One race was Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.

“Never at any point was I worried about what was happening out there. Everything was under control and it was really good fun,” said Wolff.

“It was incredible. I’ve waited a long time for this day, I’ve dreamed about this day for a long time, with the first lap something special.

Suzie Wolff (GBR) Williams Development Driver. Williams F1 Team Media & Partner Day, Silverstone, England, Wednesday 17 October 2012.“I’ve done a lot of days in the simulator so I knew what to expect but of course it is tremendously different when you are out there and going at those speeds.”

Williams’s regular race drivers Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela and Brazilian Bruno Senna, who were at Silverstone to drive two title-winning cars – Keke Rosberg’s 1982 FW08 and Damon Hill’s 1996 FW18 – and meet guests and sponsors, were watching the run.

“She’s doing quite good…so confident with the car. I have been with her in a DTM two-seater and I have to say she has a great control of the car,” said Maldonado, who drove Hill’s car.

“The first time in an F1 car as everyone knows, is a special day. She is good.”

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  • Speedo

    I long to see a woman driver in F1 competing with the men. I hope it will happen one day soon.

  • psych4191

    @speedo, I’m with you, but I hope it is on merit, and not what she brings otherwise (money, publicity, etc etc)

  • McLarenfan

    Susie Wolff got her position on merit Toto refused to have any say on her appointment with Williams.