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Susie Wolff announces motorsport retirement

By raccars Published

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Williams F1 team driver Susie Wolff has confirmed her end of season retirement intentions.

Susie Wolff has been an important figure on the F1 scene for the past three years, after being signed up to the Williams team back in 2012. And there were big hopes that she would be one of the pioneers in earning a more prominent presence for women in a sport that has been the realm of male champions for so many decades. But in the past week, Wolff revealed that she intends to hang up her helmet when the current season concludes, principally as a result of not having made it onto the starting grid in her time with Williams.

Wolff explained that this had been her ambition and that she had always intended to retire if it ever became apparent that realising it was not going to be possible, which is why she is bowing out of F1. And the Race of Champions, to be held in London next week, will apparently be the final time she takes the wheel of an F1 car in a competitive environment, according to TopGear.com.

Although real race experience has eluded her, Wolff has been a key part of Williams F1 strategy since joining and has had her ups and downs as well as her opportunities to prove herself by participating in a number of practice sessions. Her exit from the sport is likely to be seen as a blow by those campaigning to bring more women into the mainstream, both in F1 and across the entire motorsport landscape in general.

Past glories & problems

Born in Scotland, 32 year old Wolff managed to make waves when she participated in the German Touring Car championships, eventually earning her the call-up to Williams. And there were a number of notable milestones she passed during her subsequent tenure, including becoming the first woman in over two decades to participate in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone back in 2014, according to the Independent. At one point, it seemed as though she might have actually got to participate in this year’s Australian Grand Prix in the spring after Valtteri Bottas was injured during the qualifying process, but this never came to pass.

One of the issues that has prevented Wolff from making it onto the starting grid, especially in 2015, is the fact that Williams hired a dedicated reserve driver, Adrian Sutil, this year. This decision very much confirmed Wolff’s position as a test driver rather than as a full time stand-in. And while she has since said that this was not the point at which her decision to retire crystallised, she did admit that it was one of a number of events which led her to conclude that making it as a fully-fledged F1 racer was not an attainable outcome.

Observers have pointed out that while Wolff’s status as an ambassador for the involvement of women in motorsport is undisputed, the fact that her entire professional career has not seen her win a single race has been the biggest issue keeping her off the starting grid in F1.

Making progress

The fact that Wolff has even managed to achieve the position of a test driver with the Williams F1 team is worthy of acknowledgement and should help to pave the way for future generations of women looking to enter the sport, making it apparent that it is possible to make progress even in this male-dominated arena. But more investment and campaigning is clearly required to make F1 and all motorsport more representative.

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