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.”

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”