Motorhead

The Scottish woman breaking new ground in Formula One

Susie Wolff will become the first woman driver in 22 years to take part in a Formula One Grand Prix weekend this season after Williams said the Scot would be on track for them in two free practice sessions later this year.

It is quite an achievement for the 31-year-old, who will be breaking new ground for women in the sport.

The team said the wife of Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff, a former Williams executive director, would remain their development driver in an expanded role that will include two Friday outings.

After a number of deflating claims about the suitability of women for Formula One in recent months, most notably Sir Stirling Moss stating that female drivers lacked the mental capacity for the sport, Wolff’s elevation marks a small dent in F1’s male-dominated status.

Wolff believes her performance in last summer’s test helped shake up the idea that she was simply a "blonde girl walking around the paddock".

She added that she was aware of the significance of driving at an F1 event, but said she had earned the opportunity.

"It’s not about being a woman, it’s about being the absolute best you can be," she said.

"I'm grateful for the support and belief Williams continue to show in me and 2014 promises to be a very important milestone in my career.

"Competing in two FP1 (first free practice) sessions, alongside an additional full test day this season will be a big step and I am looking forward to the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the FW36 on a Grand Prix weekend."

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SUSIE WOLFF FACTFILE

Born: 6 December 1982, Oban, Scotland

Role: Williams development driver

Previous racing experience: 2006-12 DTM German touring cars. Always driving at least a year-old car; best result ninth. 2005 - Formula Three in UK; 2001-4 - Formula Renault in UK

Married to Toto Wolff, Mercedes director of motorsport and executive director (business) of the Mercedes F1 team, and a shareholder in Williams

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Wolff, who raced for seven years in the German Touring Car (DTM) championship, took part in an official Formula One test for Williams last year and has conducted straight line aerodynamic tests.

She has little chance of actually racing, with 21-year-old Brazilian Felipe Nasr the team's official test and reserve driver.

Brazil's Felipe Massa and Finland's Valtteri Bottas are the two main drivers for the team this season.

Williams' chief technical officer Pat Symonds said she had "demonstrated a natural talent for developing a car and providing strong feedback".

The last woman to take part in any stage of a grand prix weekend was Italian Giovanna Amati, who tried and failed to qualify with Brabham in 1992.

However women are involved at all levels in the paddock, from mechanics and engineers to team boss.

Monisha Kaltenborn is the principal of Sauber while Claire Williams is deputy principal at the team founded by her father Frank.

Sauber this month appointed 25-year-old Swiss Simona de Silvestro, who has competed for four years in the U.S.-based IndyCar series, as an affiliated driver with the aim of her racing in 2015.

Reuters/Eurosport