Wolff: No special treatment because I’m a woman

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Susie Wolff has questioned just why she has been such a focus for the media across the course of this weekend given that she is simply doing something very routine and normal in F1.

Wolff deputized for Valtteri Bottas at Williams during FP1, just as Giedo van der Garde, Robin Frijns and Daniel Juncadella did at their respective teams. However, the fact that Wolff today became the first woman in 22 years to take part in an official F1 session has attracted a lot of attention.

That said, many of the other drivers on the grid were not so bothered by it, and Wolff was pleased by this.

“I think it’s a good thing because, you know, I think we all arrived here and everybody was like why is everyone making a fuss about you driving?” she explained to the media on Friday at Silverstone. “Felipe Nasr’s driven and nobody made a fuss, and we all were quite surprised by the big commotion around it, and I think we could see that as a positive.

“For Felipe and Valtteri, it was like ‘we’re just driving, what’s the big deal?’. So I think for the other drivers not to have a big issue with it can also be something positive because they don’t see it as being something that unusual really.”

Wolff also explained how she does not feel that she has been held back despite being a woman in a predominantly male sport, and has earned her place at Williams on merit.

“No, I think initially, even when I joined the Mercedes team for DTM, of course you have to come in and have to earn your respect, but every young driver has to do that,” she said. “I think as long as you keep your head down, work hard and prove your worth, you’re accepted.

“And as soon as you’re accepted, it never comes into question any more, and I have a very good relationship with Felipe and Valtteri, and everyone within the team, and I never feel like I’m treated differently than Felipe and Valtteri are.”

Sadly, Wolff’s session did not go to plan. She completed just four installation laps before an engine failure forced her to park up the FW36 car at the side of the track. Her next chance to drive the FW36 will come during practice for the German Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

Many had questioned Wolff’s suitability for the reserve role given her underwhelming form in DTM. Therefore, she will have to prove herself once again at Hockenheim, although she has already answered many of her critics at the last in-season test in Spain two months ago.

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on NBCSN, NBC Sports App this week

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After five years and 98 Grands Prix broadcast since 2013, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Formula 1 concludes with the 2017 season finale from Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit this week.

The lights come on for the day-into-night Grand Prix of the year as the sun sets on five years of broadcasts, original content and additional digital specific features such as Paddock Pass.

For Abu Dhabi this week, all of the race, qualifying and second free practice will be live on NBCSN with first and third free practice live on the NBC Sports App. The race returns is back in the usual morning a.m. time slots after three mid-day races in Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, and a pair of overnight affairs in Kuala Lumpur and Suzuka. Formula 2 coverage of its season finale from Abu Dhabi also airs both on NBCSN and online.

With this the final race of the season before F1’s winter break, there’s still a handful of things to get sorted even though Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have wrapped their respective championships.

Sebastian Vettel (Brazil) and Max Verstappen (Mexico) have won the last two races, with Hamilton’s most recent win coming at Circuit of the Americas. Will it be any of these three that wrap the year on a high or could any of their teammates – Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo or Valtteri Bottas – upend the script?

Mercedes has won the last three races in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2016 with Nico Rosberg taking the 2015 crown.

Vettel and Hamilton have three wins apiece in Abu Dhabi, Vettel having taken all of his with Red Bull in 2009, 2010 and 2013, and Hamilton adding a 2011 McLaren triumph to his last two with Mercedes. Raikkonen (2012, Lotus) and Rosberg are the other Abu Dhabi winners, and while both Vettel and Raikkonen have won in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari never has in the first eight races here.

The last place up for grabs in the constructor’s battle is for sixth, with Toro Rosso (53 points), Renault (49) and Haas (47) separated by only six total points. Toro Rosso and Renault got into a nasty war of words in Brazil, and will part ways after the weekend.

Felipe Massa signs off his career in F1 for the second and expected final time at Williams, and with Toro Rosso having confirmed Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley last week, his seat is one of only three left to fill for 2018, and the most attractive.

McLaren and Honda also bring to an end their partnership after three troubled seasons, but on the bright side will look to score points for a third straight race together, which hasn’t happened since the Hungarian, German and Belgian Grands Prix of 2016.

As ever, and perhaps for the final time as a collective unit, Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be on the call with Will Buxton reporting from the pits and paddock.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Nov. 24, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Nov. 24, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-10:55 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)