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.”