SILVERSTONE, 4th July 2014 (F1 Plus / Graham Keilloh) - Susie Wolff admitted that it was ‘massively disappointing’ that her debut in an official F1 practice session at Silverstone today lasted only four laps before technical gremlins struck.
Wolff was the first woman to take part in an official F1 session since 1992, when Giovanna Amati tried unsuccessfully to qualify a Brabham on three occasions. But an engine failure stranded Wolff out on track early in FP1 and ended her session almost before it had started.
‘It’s massive disappointing. On the one side it was such a good build-up to this weekend, I’d done so much hard work and so much preparation to get ready for today and I knew exactly what I had to do on every lap out there.’
Wolff felt confident too in what little running she did have: ‘It felt good even on the out lap. I’d done the young driver test last year so I had a good feeling anyway of this track in an F1 car. I love this track, I love the fast-flowing nature of it and my initial feeling was just really good. The first run was just about building up slowly. The wind was quite strong out there so I was told just to take it easy and build up lap by lap. I had two more runs to go for it a bit more.’
Wolff nevertheless remained upbeat despite today’s misfortune: ‘That’s racing, I’ve known that from over the years, that it can be massive ups and then massive downs as well.’
She also looked ahead to her next opportunity for mileage in the car at the next meeting in Germany: ‘I’ve still got Hockenheim, for me I’ve got to go out in Hockenheim and show what I can do because I didn’t get the chance to do that today, and as much as that’s disappointing on the positive side I still have one more shot at it. So, head up high and look towards Hockenheim now.
‘The truth is I only did and lap and a half, and I didn’t prove or show anything, so of course it’s up to me now to recompose myself and get ready for Hockenheim…I really want to use that opportunity to show, not just to speak to everybody and say I can do it, but to show it, as I think actions speak louder than words.’
As for what stopped her today Wolff explained: ‘It’s a terminal problem, the engine was close to the end of its life anyway.’ She denied however that the failure had been expected: ‘No, not at all…There was no option of having a different engine in this morning…The team very much expected it to last the session, I only had three runs planned...’
On the broader subject of why today marked such a long time since a female last drove an F1 car in an official session, Wolff opined: ‘I think it’s a couple of reasons which have combined, and the first reason is if there’s no role model out there doing it, then for all the little girls that come to the race tracks to watch or who watch the TV, if they don’t see a girl out on the race track then they’re not inspired to want to do that themselves, and that relates to the second problem that there aren’t enough girls karting or starting at a young age then the best will never rise to the top.’
Wolff denied however that as a woman it is harder for her to be accepted in motorsport: ‘No. Of course you have to come in and you have to earn your respect but every young driver has to do that.’
And upon being told that many F1 pilots didn’t seem too bothered that a woman was driving an F1 car this weekend Wolff said: ‘Which I think is a good thing! Because we all arrived here and everybody was like “why’s everyone making such a fuss about you driving?” We were all quite surprised by the big commotion around it. You can see that as a positive, as for Felipe (Massa) and Valtteri (Bottas) it was like “you’re just driving what’s the big deal?”’