Susie Wolff says her pace on debut test appearance shows she can cut it at F1 level
Williams tester says performance an answer to her doubters
By James Galloway at Silverstone. Last Updated: 20/07/13 10:08am
Susie Wolff believes her debut performance in a full Formula 1 test at Silverstone has proved she does have the pace to compete at the top level.
The Scottish driver became the first woman to take to the track alongside male drivers in an F1 session for two decades on the final day of the revamped Young Driver Test on Friday.
During the course of the session the 30-year-old former DTM driver completed 89 trouble-free laps and impressively finished only two seconds off the overall pace set by World Champion Sebastian Vettel and just nine tenths adrift of Williams' regular race driver Pastor Maldonado's best time from Thursday.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the day, Wolff said it had been vital that she had aptly demonstrated her capabilities to the team, and wider sport, as a driver in her own right, irrespective of the fact she is a female.
"Ultimately a race team is going to put the best driver they can in the race car because they want performance and for me it was important today to show that I had the performance," Wolff insisted.
"It was important to show that given the limited number of laps that I had I can be on the pace and I was only four tenths off the Formula 3 European champion [Daniel Juncadella, who tested for Williams on Thursday], the guy who's rated as an up-and-coming young star.
"And if that has more meaning for other people because I am female then of course I'll use that to my advantage. But I'm not going to play that card as a way of 'give me the right now because I'm a girl and I was fast enough'. At the end of the day there was a lot of great performances over the three days, we're all fighting hard to get into Formula 1 and I've got to also keep fighting hard."
Although Wolff admitted her fastest lap of 1:35.093, the ninth quickest of the 16 runners on track on Friday, just fell short of her pre-test target, she nonetheless felt she had still shown that her record over seven seasons in German touring cars, which some critics had judged her ability on, wasn't representative of what she could really do.
"My goal was a [one minute] 34 so I just missed that. But I've always said I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think it was possible and I believe in myself," she said.
"It's quite hard after such a tough end to my DTM career, many people presumed that I was just always at the back and wasn't quick enough, but I think today can show that that was possibly an unfair judgement."
She added: "DTM is difficult to get in the right position to get in a winning car, I was never in that position, so for me it was about going out there and showing what I can do. As much as I was nervous about today I also saw it as a brilliant opportunity. There's not many people that get a young driver day, there's only a handful of us, and it was my chance to show everybody what I was capable of."
The successful nature of Wolff's debut test - Williams chief engineer Xevi Pujolar later confirmed she had made no major errors on track during the whole day - will inevitably lead to speculation as to when she might next appear behind the wheel of the Grove team's car.
While she herself has already ruled out the prospect of taking part in a Friday practice session later in this season, the Scot made clear that she is ambitious to keep moving forward in her career.
"Let's see. I need to analyse the day properly, speak to the team a bit more," she cautioned. "Obviously we have two great race drivers just now and there's no possibility of that happening before the end of the season, Friday driving. But let's see.
"I'm not someone that likes to sit still, I always like to move forward and keep achieving. So of course I'd like to see what the next step possible is now."
However, irrespective of what the future holds, Wolff said initially she was simply delighted to have been able to repay Williams' faith in her with a successful debut.
"I had a fantastic chance from the team today," she added. "They took the chance to put me in the car. Many people said they were crazy, 'why were they wasting a day on me?', but they took that chance and I'm happy that I could do a good job today and pay them back for that."