Former race car driver Susie Wolff has been a vocal advocate for increasing the representation of women in motorsports. Wolff broke barriers in 2014 when she joined Williams Racing as a development driver and became the first woman to participate in a race weekend in over 20 years. Despite her retirement from driving in 2015, Wolff has continued to make her mark in the motorsports industry, serving as an ambassador for Mercedes F1, team principal and CEO of the Venturi Racing Formula E team.
Wolff is passionate about creating opportunities for women in motorsports she has launched the ‘Dare to be Different’ initiative. The program aims to provide schoolgirls with the chance to experience motorsports and become inspired to pursue a career in the industry. Wolff believes that by providing young women with access to motorsports, they will see that it is a viable career option for them.
Wolff understands the challenges that women face in the motorsports industry. In an interview, she spoke about the skepticism she faced when she walked into the garage as a female driver and the pressure she felt to prove herself more than her male counterparts. However, Wolff also emphasised that performance is the key to success in motorsports, regardless of gender. She explained:
“We just need more young women entering the sport, there are just not enough women competing to rise to the top.
“Naturally it would help to have one young woman racing, I believe when you can see it you can believe it, open up the sport, make it more accessible and you will inspire the next generation.”
“At my time at Williams, I had Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, it was a very strong line-up so I don’t have any bitterness that I didn’t get my chance.
“But there were some very tough moments along the way, walking into a garage and people having a lot of scepticism when they see you in the car, so you felt you had to prove yourself more than your male counterparts. That was part and parcel of what I was used to.
“I realised performance is power, if I perform then my gender is irrelevant going into the best teams, I have more of a chance to be successful. Motorsport is one of the few sports where you don’t get to see the athlete, when I had my helmet on I wasn’t even visible. So I would just get my helmet on and not get distracted.”