Susie Wolff to end F1’s 22 year wait for a female driver at Silverstone

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Susie Wolff will become the first woman to take part in an official F1 race weekend session in 22 years next Friday at the British Grand Prix.

Wolff has worked with Williams as a reserve driver for over two years, and has taken part in a number of other test sessions during that time to earn her FIA superlicense.

However, she will now take part in a full practice session for her home race at Silverstone next week.

The last woman to take part in an official F1 weekend session was Giovanna Amati at the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix. She failed to qualify for the race, finishing over ten seconds off the pole lap of Williams’ Nigel Mansell.

Since then, a few women have tried to make a splash in Formula 1. Sarah Fisher took part in a show run for McLaren at Indianapolis back in 2002, whilst Katherine Legge tested for Minardi in 2005. Both found more success in the American open wheel series.

Spanish driver Maria de Villota worked with Lotus and Marussia in 2011 and 2012, but suffered severe head injuries during a straight line test in England two years ago. She died last October at the age of 33 due to the underlying neurological injuries.

Former IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro appears to be on the cusp of a full-time seat with Sauber in 2015. She has joined the team as an affiliated driver, and has completed some encouraging running for the Swiss team.

Wolff will finally end the 22 year wait at Silverstone, though. Having most recently tested for the team following the Spanish Grand Prix, she will know what to expect from the FW36 car. She will also take part in practice for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in three weeks’ time.

Williams will be riding on a high for its home grand prix, having secured its best result since 2005 last time out in Austria, but the focus will undoubtedly be on Wolff on Friday morning at Silverstone.

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

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Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.