At the British Grand Prix in 2014, Susie Wolff achieved something special when she rolled out of the Silverstone pit lane aboard a Williams FW36. While an engine failure limited her to just four timed laps, it did make Wolff the first female driver to take part in an official Formula 1 session for 22 years.
It was the culmination of a 13-year racing career that had started with club karting in her native Scotland, and taken her via single-seaters, the DTM and eventually into Formula 1, albeit as a bit-part player.
Having started racing karts at the age of eight, Wolff (née Stoddart) worked her way up the ranks of British Formula Renault and Formula 3 before landing a berth in the DTM with Mücke Motorsport, handing one of the Berlin squad’s Mercedes AMG C-Klasse. That kick-started a seven-year DTM career – all of them spent in Mercedes-AMG machinery – bringing a best result of two seventh places in the 2014 season, making Wolff a points scorer for the first time in Germany’s most competitive series.
Wolff was named as a development driver for the Williams Formula 1 Team for 2012, coinciding with her final DTM campaign before leaving the series to fully focus on her F1 role. After her brief British GP cameo, Wolff was handed a second chance in the Williams at the German GP at Hockenheim, this time completing the majority of the session and finishing 15th fastest. For 2015, Wolff was again handed F1 practice duties – this time at the Spanish and British GPs, where her run to 13th place at Silverstone went some way to making up for the disappointment of the previous year.
Racing initiatives and Formula E
Wolff retired from F1 at the end of 2015, stating she felt her career had gone as far as it could, and she instead wanted to devote herself to boosting female participation in motor sport. Her subsequent educational programme, Dare to be Different, has worked with schoolchildren aged between eight and 14 to promote careers in the sport whilst supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) learning topics.
Dare to be Different merged with the FIA’s Girls on Track initiative for 2019. Her work across the promotion of motor sport and resulting educational programmes has earned her both an MBE and an honorary fellowship at the University of Edinburgh.
Wolff also currently serves as the team principal for the Venturi Formula E team, which she joined in 2018. Under her guidance, the team enjoyed its most successful season to date during the 2018-19 campaign, finishing eighth in the standings with Edoardo Mortara scoring its breakthrough ePrix victory in Hong Kong.