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.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.