F1: Privileges matter little as Wolff tries to break through

F1: Privileges matter little as Wolff tries to break through
Susie Wolff impressed in her first full test day at the Young Driver Test at Silverstone in July.

Gentlemen, start your engines. While that line is not often used in Formula One, it aptly sums up the gender imbalance in the sport.

Susie Wolff, a developmental driver with the Williams team since last season, would very much like to change that, even though the tall blonde - currently the only woman driver in the sport - insists she is not solely "focused on the gender aspect".

"Of course I'm always going to face barriers because there hasn't been a successful woman driver in Formula One for so long," she told The Sunday Times on Thursday after the Women in Business luncheon, during which she spoke with 100 UBS senior management and business partners across divisions.

There have been only five women racers in F1, the last in 1992. Only one, Italian Lella Lombardi in 1975, managed to score points.

Last March, Spaniard Maria de Villota was appointed a test driver with Marussia. But she was involved in a horrific accident during a test four months later which cost her an eye.

"Ultimately, I am racing and trying to break through in F1 because I love racing," said Wolff, 30, who has competed in several classes, having had a successful karting career before moving up to the British F3 and then the German DTM touring car series.

"I am a racing driver. Regardless of my gender, I am trying to break into one of the top levels of motor sport, and nobody ever said it was going to be easy.

"It's certainly tough but it's the same for the many new drivers coming through."

Indeed, a place on the track during a race weekend is still some way off, even though she impressed in her first full test day at the Young Driver Test at Silverstone in July.

Then, she completed 89 laps and set the ninth-quickest time, a performance rated "positive" by Williams' chief engineer Xevi Pujolar.

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