HOCKENHEIM, July 18, 2014 9f1plus/Graham Keilloh).- In Hockenheim today Susie Wolff just as in Silverstone was given an opportunity to run for Williams in FP1, thus adding to the rare occurrences of a female driving in an official F1 session. And while a fortnight ago she was struck down almost before she started, engine gremlins halting her after just four laps, today she was able to put in a more representative run.
What’s more, she impressed with a series of strong lap times, and a best merely around a quarter of a second slower than that of the other Williams driven by Felipe Massa.
Afterwards Wolff was happy with her efforts. “Yes, I’m happy with my performance today” she said, “my main target was always going to be Felipe, and the team set out a programme, it was important to do a good job today because obviously with the change of the set-up taking the FRIC out, it was important to then get as much information for the team as possible, so I knew exactly what I had to do and that it was my only chance then to show what I was capable of out there.
“But I had a really good feeling because I was well-prepared for it, I know the track very well from my DTM times, and I was just looking forward to driving because it’s so much fun to be out there driving.
“I knew I had two laps, three laps, and I had to be up to pace.”
It very nearly was almost a repeat of Silverstone however as Wolff experienced upshift problems on her out lap, slowing her to a crawl, before being able to return to the pits to have things remedied. She admitted that at the time she thought that history was repeating itself.
“Oh yeah!” she said upon being asked if this was the case. “In that moment out on track I said, no no no, this was not supposed to be, and I had such a good feeling for the day, so I said no it is not going to finish like this.
“It was a tough moment…(but) I stayed quite calm as at the end of the day you have to get through it, these things are not in your control.”
She also confirmed that the programmes of her and Massa were similar. “We both had different programmes to run, both were trying slightly different set-ups to compare against the two, but yeah it was same programmes.”
Returning to the broader themes of women competing in F1 and in motorsport more broadly, and whether Wolff thought she had proved a personal point, she took up the subject.
"For me, there was so much hype around Silverstone because OK it was going to be something historic but for me actions speak louder than a thousand words, and obviously I’m asked so often ‘am I good enough?’, ‘are women good enough?’, ‘are they strong enough?’ and I just wanted to show that, because for me, when the helmet’s on and we’re out there I’m no different from everyone else that’s driving, and I just had to show that.
“I feel ready but as we all know it’s a tough environment here, getting your chance is not going to be easy, but for me it was a massive step forward on my journey.”
Wolff also reiterated that she is reluctant about being seen as leading any sort of crusade however: “I don’t feel like a trailblazer yet, I still think I’ve got a lot more to achieve before I can say OK I’ve really achieved something special, I think I’m on a path but I still feel I’ve got a long way to go first. But I’ve always said that I was never here to be a trailblazer, it was just always my dream to drive in F1.”