Susie Wolff 'not bitter' over being overlooked for Williams reserve role
Scottish test driver admits "I'm close, but I'm also very, very far away" to the F1 grid; Wolff finished 14th in first practice outing of 2015
By James Galloway in Barcelona
Last Updated: 12/05/15 1:59pm
Williams tester Susie Wolff says she is disappointed but not bitter about being overlooked for the reserve driver role at the Grove team.
The Scot continues to blaze a trail for women drivers in motorsport and on Friday at Barcelona made her first appearance of the season in a Practice One session for Williams - the third time she has done so in F1 in the last 12 months - for the first of two scheduled outings in 2015. Wolff finished 14th, under a second adrift of team-mate Felipe Massa.
But despite stepping up to the role of official test driver for 2015 after three years in a development role, Williams last month hired former Sauber driver Adrian Sutil as their new reserve having previously made clear that Wolff would not have filled in for Valtteri Bottas had the Finn been forced to spend more time on the sidelines after a back injury kept him out of race-day at the season-opener in Australia.
With the arrival of Sutil, a veteran of 128 grands prix, effectively relegating her one position in Williams’ pecking order, Wolff admits she was naturally frustrated to be overlooked but has nonetheless always been aware it would be a "tough fight" to get onto the F1 grid.
"I am in no way bitter about what’s happened recently," she told reporters after completing her practice outing in Spain.
"Yes, I was disappointed, but this is a tough environment with the best drivers fighting to get in here. We are all coming with different things to the table and are fighting for ultimately the same opportunities as there are so few opportunities.
"I was well aware that it was going to be a tough fight and it is."
Having criticised Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion that an all-female F1 world championship could be created to increase the presence of women racers in motorsport, Wolff says she now just wants to focus on maximising her opportunities in Williams’ FW37 and see how far her performances get her.
"A lot has been spoken about recently that I was disappointed with Sutil's appointment and some talking about a women’s championship for Formula 1 - I really want to take myself out of all that now," she explained.
"I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to drive for a great team and to drive in P1 sessions and do test days. My frame of mind is to optimise every time I’m in the car, learn as much as I can and make sure I’m always improving as a racing driver and bringing something to the table.
"Then let’s see what that brings me. It’s very difficult this environment because things can change very quickly, but I’m not somebody who lets my head get down. I’m totally realistic: yes I’m close [to becoming a race driver] but I’m also very, very far away. I know that.
"But I was so looking forward to being in the car this morning and that’s the best part of my job - just driving - and that speaks more than 1,000 words can."
With further outings scheduled for the post-Austrian GP test and then P1 at the British GP, Wolff said it wouldn’t be until after Silverstone before she started speaking to Williams about how she fits into their 2016 plans.
But the 32-year-old made clear she would walk away from motorsport were opportunities to move forward in her career to diminish.
"I've always said if I cannot make progress and I cannot improve then I would be the first one to hang up my gloves," she said.
"So I’m not going to keep pushing hard if don’t see any opportunities."