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.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.