Susie Wolff did end F1’s 22 year wait for a female driver to take part in a grand prix weekend session today, but her practice lasted just 20 minutes after her car was hit with a problem.
Wolff has worked with Williams as a test driver for over two years, and was given the call-up for a practice run-out this weekend at Silverstone. This morning, she became the first woman since Giovanna Amati in 1992 to take part in an official F1 session, and duly went out for her installation laps at the beginning of the session.
However, before she got the chance to put in a quick flying lap, her Williams car ground to a halt just past pit exit, thus bringing her session to an early end. After 22 years, her bow lasted less than 22 minutes.
Wolff reported a loss of oil pressure over the team radio, and the team quickly set about investigating the issue, which was later determined to have been an engine-related failure.
Despite the problem, she remained in good spirits, and was seen laughing and joking with team owner Sir Frank Williams as the session continued.
On the other side of the garage, the situation was even worse as Felipe Massa crashed his car just five minutes after Wolff’s stoppage. Coming out of Stowe, he ran wide and spun into the barriers in a repeat of his faux pas during practice last year. The team will be working hard to fix the car ahead of FP2 later today.
Wolff will get another chance to test the Williams during practice for the German Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes Formula 1 team cannot afford to let up in its push to improve ahead of a fiercer fight at the front of the field in 2018 – potentially including former team McLaren.
Hamilton clinched his fourth F1 drivers’ title in Mexico at the end of October as Mercedes continued its perfect record of championships since the introduction of the new V6 turbo hybrid engines in 2014.
The team faced a stiffer challenge in 2017 thanks to a resurgent Ferrari, while Red Bull also posed a threat towards the end of the season, setting the stage for another close fight next year.
Hamilton is expecting both Ferrari and Red Bull to remain a force at the front of the pack, but also feels McLaren could join the fight after ditching Honda in favor of a Renault engine supply for 2018.
“When I’m training and preparing for a new season, I firmly believe that we can be contenders for the next championship. It may turn out to be not possible, but you have to have that mindset,” Hamilton said.
“If you go in with expectations of finishing fifth, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to gear yourself up to win.
“Next year, McLaren will have Renault engines, then we may see four teams fighting for the championship. I think Red Bull will be quicker and Ferrari for sure will be fast again.
“We can’t stand still – we have to keep moving forwards.”
Hamilton started his F1 career with McLaren back in 2007, winning his maiden world title in 2008 before leaving the team for Mercedes at the end of the 2012 season.