Susie gets a promotion

Susie Wolff has become the Official Test Driver for Williams Martini Racing for 2015. In this role she will take part in two FP1 sessions during the year and do two test days for the team. She will also work in the team’s simulator. Up to now she has been the team’s Development Driver. The team is currently evaluating a number of drivers to replace Susie as Development Driver.

“This is another step in the right direction for me,” Wolff said. “I am delighted Williams are recognising my progression, hard work and that it is performance that counts. Williams is at a very exciting stage in its history and we are moving into 2015 with fantastic momentum, I’m proud to be part of the team.”

46 thoughts on “Susie gets a promotion

      1. Would that be looking at her junior career and seeing that she hasn’t had a race win, a pole position, or a fastest lap since go-karting? Do we really need to take all the similarly unqualified drivers and put them in an F1 car to be sure they aren’t going to ever be competitive?

        I’m sure Susie could make 99% of us look silly on a racetrack, but it’s absurd to have her taking extremely valuable F1 mileage ahead of literally hundreds of drivers who are more talented, have more sponsors, or are more talented AND have more sponsors. Not to mention the multiple better female junior drivers.

        1. But she has apparently performed well at testing sessions, which is why I feel she will be a perennial tester throughout her active F1 career…

  1. What departments budget does her salary and expenses come out of – the race teams or the marketing department?

    I find it very hard to welcome and accept her in such a role. We are losing Jenson Button, JEV, Kobayashi, Gutierrez yet we have a 31 year old, who since 2002 has scored zero wins and 4 podiums. Hell, in that time Maldonado has 49 podiums and 29 wins!

    Gender and surname have nothing to do with it right?

        1. “no wins ever”

          So, maybe, that’s not why Williams are running her then? They’re not stupid. A rejuvenated Williams still need more money to step it up and this is a pretty good way (USP even) to get some publicity next year and that will appeal to advertisers.

          Keeping Toto happy by occupying his wife while he gets on with the real work of refereeing Hammy vs Rosberg will do no harm either!

          Other than that, I don’t see that much change for people here to get upset about…

    1. Damon Hill had a pretty ropey record in the lower formulae (and arrived in F1 at about the same age) . Villeneuve’s record pre-CART wasn’t stellar either.

      1. 13mattb: RE JV’s record: He was 2nd in the Japanese formula 3 series, 7 poles and five wins in the SCCA Atlantic series (2nd place overall in his 1st year), came third at the Indy 500 and won a race in CART all in his rookie year and then the following year he won the Indy 500 and the CART championship.

        1. You’ll note that I said pre-CART…

          Japanese F3 wasn’t the strongest at the time – typically you would go to the British F3 series to really shine (seems a long time ago now). He’d spent 3 years before 1992 achieving very little in Italian F3 before finishing second to Anthony Reid in Japan.

          So as I said – not stellar. He certainly grabbed his chances in North America and in the first couple of years (only) of his F1 career though.

  2. I have no idea how good Susie is or isn’t but this is snails pace stuff and without being rude (I’m really not) she’s not getting any younger.

    I appreciate that there is an endless surplus of (very young and for that matter slightly less young) people trying to get into F1 especially given the current situation with two less teams – but surely she can be given a better crack of the whip than this? Particularly so if there is any prospect of her actually driving in an F1 race

  3. “In this role she will take part in two FP1 sessions during the year and do two test days for the team.”

    She did that this year. So, she is doing the same job, but they just changed her title so they could get some PR.

  4. It is ‘a step in the right direction’ for F1 as well.
    Next big step – fill the role of development driver with a female in her early 20’s.

  5. A woman as a test driver? Perhaps this is cynical, but maybe Toto is thinking Williams is causing too much trouble in the races so he gets his wife in an important testing role with the team because he knows this will make them weaker.

  6. F1 acts like it’s inconceivable for their “Fonzie” to jump their “shark.”

    Pay no attention to that fin in the waves

  7. Exciting times at Williams again and some excellent news for Susie. With current reserve driver Nasr moving up to a race seat at Sauber next year, will Williams be looking to appoint a replacement reserve driver for 2015 or is there any chance Susie might be considered on this front too? Whilst not wishing anything untoward for either Bottas or Massa, I’d love to see SW get a chance to line up on a race grid.

    1. Why isn’t nico Rosberg excluded because his dad was in F1 and made phone calls to get him there? Why isn’t there a conflict when Maldonado has a country’s ambiguous petro-dollars keeping him in a seat? Toto also managed and shepherds Bottas’ career. Something he doesn’t actively do with his wife’s…

  8. Nothing surprising here guys. If this is the price you pay for having the best engine available for your team, then pay up and be happy. I know I am. I must congratulate Claire Williams for her deftness and lighter touch shown of late. The one thing I hated about team Willy was Sir Frank’s Stubbornness and lack of empathy when dealing with people. It took me years to get over Damon being ditched and I know the Team lost good people which led them into the wilderness years in the first place.

    1. True. Pretty sure Jules Bianchi’s seat at Marussia had more than a little to do with Ferrari’s engine going in the back.

      As Joe regularly points out on this blog – money and connections rank higher than raw skill and talent when it comes to gaining driver / testing seats. Why should things be different for Susie?

      Hope she does well next year.

  9. So we see the usual gripes about Susie’s speed (which are probably motivated by nothing but sexism). She got within 0.4s of Massa at Hockenheim, with far fewer miles in the car. Williams are very rigorous over their drivers, so I expect they are making the right choice for them. Susie was spotted as a decent talent when she was finishing on the podium regularly in her Formula Renault days, which is why Mercedes gave her a job, albeit in older machinery (and she still managed a couple of points finishes). She deserves her place.

    1. > She got within 0.4s of Massa at Hockenheim, with far fewer miles in the car.

      Wow, really? I missed that. Maybe not so bad after all, then…

      1. Massa posted a 1.20.542 and Susie posted a 1.20.769, so a tad over 2 tenths separated them, I’m very happy for Susie, she did Williams no harm this season did she, in fact she helped turn the team around.

    2. 1) I wouldn’t call 3 podiums in 3 seasons as “finishing on the podium regularly”. That is from 48 races also, and funnily enough the last time she visited the podium (10 years now).

      2) I know we aren’t there yet, but society should be able to criticism females without the PC group screaming sexism. My gripes merely come from the fact that so many other people are more deserving, even other females. If anything, I find her appointment a tad sexist as if a 31 year old Scottish male tried to enter F1 based on 4 podiums over 10 years he would not stand a sh*t show.

      3) Yes she got within 0.4 sec of Massa, but comparing apples with apples you would have to compare her time to Massas Q3 time. Her P1 run was a low fuel run and was nothing more than promotional – coincidence it was the British and Germans GPs? So its 1:20.7 for Wolff vs 1:17.1 for Massa.

      1. #2) Yes, Simona De Silvestro is surely a capable driver than Susie, but she must provide good feedback and is clearly able to get the job she’s given done competently. I don’t think Williams would have it any other way, regardless of the Mercedes connection.

        #3) You time comparison isn’t valid. You don’t know the fuel condition of her run in FP1. Also, a track generally gets quicker over the weekend as more rubber is laid down, so Qualy times are always quicker for every driver than FP1 times. I’m not saying she can match Massa, surely she can’t.

        But in no way is that her job. Her job in 2013 was 4th driver, the development driver. She’s to give good technical feedback, primarily in the simulator. The Friday run is to give her seat time mainly for her to correlate the feel to the simulator. She is to do consistent, mainly mid-fuel runs, and keep it out of the barriers; which she did thoroughly well.

        She did the job in 2013, period. Yes, her relationship to Toto Wolff and Mercedes matters. So does the ability to represent Williams via the media & sponsors for every driver. Many drivers who were plenty fast have had short F1 careers because of their inability to be the complete package (see Scott Speed, JEV, etc.)

        1. Doors open based on who you know and how much money you have. If you do a good job when the door opens then all is well. It helps to be close to the boss of Mercedes Benz. End of story.

  10. The Williams resurgence this year has been one of the bright spots of the season and a delight to watch. As a Felipe Massa fan, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing him return to form, pass the Ferraris, and stand on three podiums — despite some wretched luck earlier in the year. Valterri Bottas has a surfeit of talent, and mature beyond his years. Seemingly, Williams is a true “team” in every sense of the word.

    Susie Wolff deserves a chance to display whatever talent she has, and Williams appears to be a perfect place for her right now. I hope she does well and surprises some folks. It would be very good for F1.

  11. In other news, the Los Angeles Clippers have announced that Steve Balmer’s wife has been appointed backup Point Guard to Chris Paul.

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    1. that’s cool but who are they, an Indy car team ? and what the hell is a “back up point guard” is that the lollipop guy ?

  12. Susie has a career most race fans would sell their soul for. Good for her I say. Although it would be a stronger statement by Williams to put her as the official reserve driver, but I guess they need to sell that role to Vergne 😛

  13. Seriously there must be so many people with more promise than her, no poles, no wins, no fastest laps, In fact I remember her tooling around at the back when she ran in a Formula Renault whist Lewis was winning.

  14. Gosh. That provoked some comment.

    So, there’s a heck of a lot more good drivers than there are race seats. Same goes for test & development roles.

    Age doesn’t have much to do with it – if you’re fast enough, clearly you’re good enough. [Verstappen, Sainz]. DTM is not a bad benchmark, for young & old drivers, & plenty of GP winners found themselves racing Susie Stoddart.

    Yes, there’s PR value in having a glamorous driver in the team – of either sex. Being female – & the only female – must multiply that value.

    Bottom line though, I believe with Williams more than any other team, is “will it make the car go faster?”

    Clearly, the answer’s yes.

    So congratulations Susie.
    Have a great season.

  15. Although this is about Susie, with that Silvestra woman that Sauber took on, I think it was unfair that they used up all her funding before even giving her a chance to get in the car. That was out of order.

  16. F1 is a business which for a couple of hours on a Sunday turns into a sport. I’m very glad Mr. Wolff and his wife have an interest still in Williams F1. If he decides to take his toys away then we lose an awful lot more than you think. I believe this guy is a genuine character though and remembers his friends.
    He may be also the only person that could conceivably replace BCE from inside the sport.

  17. Yeah ! Aint that nice ! The talented albeit a bit beyond his sell by date [ without a little ‘ help ‘ from his friends ] man of color has done next to nothing to improve F1’s spectator demographics . A smattering of Asian , Indian and Russian drivers [ a few somewhat competent .. others not so much ] has done even less ….

    So now lets stuff a completely incompetent female into the cockpit who’s only getting the job because of who her husband is [ and who’s engines Williams uses ] … and see how that one goes .

    All bets being …. her incompetency will only be exceeded by her pretense of being a race car driver …. of any kind : with the demographics remaining just as they have always been . Which is to say ;

    ” Much Ado About Nothing ” … at all …..

    Ahhhh Cynical Marketing in the 2010’s … gotta love it … or not …. personally … I’ll go for … Not !

    Sideline ; Interesting that at the exact same moment when the Daimler Mercedes board is once again in the process of debating the viability of their involvement in F1 [ with the majority of investors wanting out ] … Toto Wolff comes out saying Mercedes will never walk away . Hmmm … either the man aint listening … or he’s knowingly lying … hmmn …

    1. I think you’re being grossly unfair to Susie Wolff and her obvious talent. Clearly there is much at play here, but, also clearly, she is a very capable race driver. Ok, so she’s not a young, super-fast hot shoe moving into a full-time ride, but she’s already proven she can drive an F1 car consistently and competitively, falling only 0.227 secs off Massa’s FP1 time at Germany. (Can you do that!). She has a reputation of good technical knowledge and Ms. Williams quote backs that “She continues to impress us with her strong technical knowledge, the feedback she delivers and the performance when she drives the car both on the track and in the simulator.” I’m a believer that Simona De Silvestro is a stronger driver and more deserving than Susie, but that doesn’t diminish Mrs. Wolff’s capability and you should recognize that, not throw zingers and word-bombs her way.

  18. There is always more to every statement made than meets the eye….Thanks Joe for having a blog that gives me good information and fellow people who like me had to spend hours crawling round the web trying to get good information about the moves and counter moves in F1. Now I just come here and I will be subscribing again for GP+ next year. I’ve never felt better informed.

    I suspect RedBull and Cristian Horner are being carefully outmaneuvered by a very canny and considerate man who is currently building a very strong power base inside the sport. I can see already that he carries Williams, Force India and soon to add Lotus to his way of thinking. Really looking forward to next year to see if Honda, Renault and Ferrari have any answer to the Mercedes power train. My other thought is that Williams manufacture their own gear box and running gear. An advantage to them perhaps?

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