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Susie Wolff confident F1 will get a female race driver one day

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BIRMINGHAM – Former Williams test driver Susie Wolff is confident that a female driver will race in Formula 1 during her lifetime.

Wolff ended F1’s 22-year wait for a female driver at a grand prix weekend in 2014 when she took part in practice for the British Grand Prix.

After taking part in a further three FP1 sessions for Williams, Wolff announced at the end of 2015 that she would be retiring from motorsport and turning her attention to a new project.

Wolff unveiled said project at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, England on Thursday, launching the ‘Dare 2 Be Different’ campaign that looks to aid and connect women in motorsport and also inspire future generations.

“Dare 2 Be Different is made up of three factors,” Wolff said. “The first factor is building a community, globally we want to connect women. We want to make role models out of successful women who are in the sport and inspire the next generation, and we want to keep track of the successful women racing and competing and working in motorsport worldwide.

“The second tier is our five headline events. We’re going to get little girls to the race track who probably have never tried karting and possibly have never been to a racing track before.

“The third is networking events, bringing together women in the sport who are already successful to those who need some inspiration, bringing them together and learning off each other.

“Motorsport and many other environments and professions are performance based. You’ve got to be good enough to get the opportunity. That’s why we focus on the performance side of things. Don’t worry about your gender. It becomes secondary when you got out there and perform.”

Last week, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that he does not believe a woman will ever race again in the series, but Wolff is confident that she will see a female driver hit the grid.

“It’s time for it,” Wolff said. “I think it’s going to happen in my lifetime without a doubt.”

Wolff’s Dare 2 Be Different campaign was already making an impact at the Autosport International show as she met a number of women and girls interested in pursuing careers in motorsport both on and off track.

“I met some amazing women just this morning,” Wolff said. “One is the new head of strategy at Haas, she’s moved from Ferrari. There’s one who’s going to be a race engineer in BTCC.

“There are many inspirational women at all levels of the sport and not just engineers but from engineers to physios to data engineers to mechanics, so there are lots of different spheres and for us it’s about tapping into all of that because ultimately motorsport isn’t just a driving part. There’s a lot more to it.

“It’s been really nice to see so many real fans of motorsport, not just F1 but every different level, and I’ve met lots of different girls who have come up to me and said they want to be the next female Formula 1 driver, they want to do karting, they want to be the next engineers.

“It’s been really inspiring for me to meet so many nice people.”

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.