Exclusive Q&A: Susie Wolff discusses her retirement from F1
32-year-old hoping to help next generation of female racers
By William Esler
Last Updated: 05/11/15 11:41am
Susie Wolff joined Sky Sports News HQ to discuss her retirement from motorsport and how she hopes to help the next generation of female racers.
Was it a tough decision to retire?
"Of course it was a tough one, for any sportsperson deciding to end their career it is always tough, but for me I followed my gut feeling and it just felt like the right decision.
"In the summer after I had driven the car for the last time I looked at my options for next year and I always said if I couldn't keep progressing, and the next natural progression was to be on the starting grid, then I would call it a day and it became clear that I wasn't going to get onto that starting grid, so the decision was pretty easy in the end to make."
How difficult was the moment when you realised it wasn't going to happen for you?
"I think the events at the beginning of the year when Valtteri Bottas got injured and I didn't get put forward, that was one moment where I had to face the harsh the reality that it was maybe going to be more difficult than I had anticipated.
"But it is a tough environment in Formula 1, it is very competitive, and it is not just competitive for me because I am a woman, it is competitive for any driver because there are so few opportunities and so many drivers fighting for those opportunities and that is just the reality.
"So for me, in the end I can look back and say I gave it absolutely everything I had and I left no stone unturned. So in the end I am happy with my decision."
Are you surprised there aren't more women in Formula 1?
"Well there are lots of women in Formula 1 actually, just not many on the race track. But there are many fantastic women doing very good work in the paddock, that is just not as visible as what happens on track and sadly there aren't as many on track.
"But the next generation is coming and I will definitely dedicate some time and energy to helping that next generation."
What has been the highlight of your time in Formula 1?
"I'll never forget the very first time I drove the F1 car, that was an incredible experience. And I think Hockenheim, the first time I actually did a proper free practice session because Silverstone my engine blew-up and no-one really knew what I would be capable of, but to go to Hockenheim and end up two tenths off Felipe [Massa] who is one of the quickest drivers on the grid, that is something I will always look back on and smile."
Do you feel that if circumstances were different we could have seen you fighting at the front of a Formula 1 race?
"Of course I would like to think so, I am a competitive sportsperson and I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't believe I was good enough. I showed everybody I was good enough every time I was in the car and I was in a competitive team, when I drove the car it was a car capable of podium positions, so of course I would like to have thought I was good enough. But I didn't get the chance, I fought very hard for the chance and it didn't come. And that is what I have to live with now."
You're not giving racing up quite yet, though, are you?
"I have one big farewell race at the Race of Champions in London. I'll be representing Team Scotland with David Coulthard. We nearly won it last year, so we will definitely going for the win this year."
And you probably won't be a stranger from the F1 paddock as your husband Toto will still be there with Mercedes...
"Of course and I will always be a friend of the Williams team - I have such a good relationship with so many people there and I respect the team a lot and they gave me my chance in Formula 1. I will be at some races simply as Toto's wife."
Is that a nice position to be in though, a little bit more relaxed?
"Definitely, I am incredibly proud of my husband and it is time I supported him a little bit more. We have the advantage that we are passionate about the same things in life, that we travel the world together and that we will continue to do."
And you mentioned the next generation and trying to help some young girls come through?
"Yes, I want to launch an initiative with the MSA, the UK's governing body of motorsport, and we want to show that motorsport is accessible, it is not just a sport for boys and that is going to involved some key events and going into schools and making it more accessible."