Susie Wolff: From driver to Venturi principal

Former F1 test driver Susie Wolff went from driving Formula One cars to being in the driving seat of Venturi's Formula E hopes as team principal.

Posted: Aug 21, 2018 11:39 PM
Updated: Aug 21, 2018 11:57 PM

Susie Wolff is used to making history.

A former DTM racer, the Scot was a test and development driver for the Williams Formula One team between 2013 and 2015.

She became the first female driver in 22 years to take part in a grand prix meeting when she drove in a practice session ahead of the 2014 British Grand Prix, something she did again at that year's race in Germany and in the following season in Spain and Silverstone.

Now, Wolff has trod new ground again by becoming the first female team principal in the short history of Formula E -- the world's premier all-electric racing series.

READ: Why Formula E is the most exciting motorsport

She now leads the Monaco-based Venturi team and was on the grid for the recent season finale in New York.

After retiring from competitive driving in 2015, Wolff founded the Dare to be Different initiative with the aim of getting more women involved in motorsport.

"It's a two-step problem," she tells CNN's Supercharged when asked about the number of women participating in motorsport.

"The first is that there's not enough role models that are visible to inspire the next generation, and that leads to the second problem that we simply don't have enough women entering the sport.

"To be successful in this sport you need to be talented -- your gender is actually irrelevant."

Wolff isn't overly concerned about the groundbreaking nature of her new role. But she does take satisfaction in the thought it could encourage young women to get involved in the industry.

"I thought the whole gender issue was over when I stopped racing,"explains Wolff, who is married to Mercedes F1's CEO and team principal Toto Wolff.

"But I can also see that it's causing quite a lot of interest with me becoming a team principal. If that's inspiring to other women, if that's showing what's possible, then I think that's a great byproduct of what I'm doing -- but it's most certainly not my absolute aim."

Wolff is a racer -- one who wants to be judged on her results rather than her gender.

With her appointment at Venturi, Wolff occupies a high-profile role within a sport that will be under increased scrutiny as it attempts a leap forward -- in terms of technology and design -- with its radical new car.

Venturi is also something of an FE enigma. Co-founded by Leonardo DiCaprio, it has taken just three FE podiums and is yet to win a race. Stephane Sarrazi did cross the line first at the end of the second London E-Prix race in 2015 but was penalized for exceeding his energy limit.

Last season, Venturi finished seventh in the team standings, despite moments of promise from its drivers.

Edoardo Mortara looked set to win in Hong Kong before a spin meant he finished second. From there, the team showed flashes of speed -- Maro Engel was fourth in Paris, a result Tom Dillmann matched in the first New York race -- but lacked consistency.

Improving Venturi's results is Wolff's primary challenge.

"We're a team not performing as well as we should," she admits. "We all have the wish to improve our performance, we have some great people."

After a winless first four seasons, Venturi is aiming upwards. It has recently been executing an expansion plan, which included launching a young electric driver academy and signing ex-F1 racer Felipe Massa for season five.

Venturi CEO and founder Gildo Pastor explained that hiring Wolff -- who's original contact with Venturi came while she was still racing and led to discussions about an FE drive -- marked the start of the next phase of the team's development.

Wolff has been reunited with her former Williams teammate Massa, who raced for the team between 2014 and 2017.

"He can bring a lot to the team," says Wolff. "I'm a great believer of creating a culture and energy in a team that allows everyone to flourish and he's someone that I definitely believe can bring that to Venturi."

But Wolff doesn't believe the prospect of more F1 drivers following Massa into the FE paddock is a vital step for the now-established series.

READ: The world's first all-electric Ferrari

"I don't think you need F1 drivers in Formula E," she insists. "I have a lot of respect for a lot of great drivers in the paddock already and I think they have rightly found their way in Formula E.

"It's turning into a championship with so much potential."

Indeed, FE needs to create its own stars. Drivers such as Felix Rosenqvist and Mitch Evans have shone brightly since joining the series, while, away from the driving, Sam Bird's race engineer at Virgin Racing is leaving to take up a new role with Red Bull's F1 team.

Venturi's past form means the pressure is immediately on Wolff.

But if she achieves what she wants, she could become an FE superstar.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 57779

Reported Deaths: 1670
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18393825
Ramsey7130261
Dakota4112104
Anoka3456113
Stearns284720
Washington197843
Nobles17516
Olmsted164923
Scott143918
Mower10882
Rice10068
Blue Earth8655
Wright8275
Carver8052
Clay75840
Kandiyohi6811
Sherburne6677
St. Louis47519
Todd4212
Lyon4203
Freeborn3561
Steele3341
Nicollet32213
Benton3133
Watonwan3000
Winona25216
Crow Wing22114
Beltrami2070
Martin2045
Le Sueur2031
Chisago1841
Goodhue1838
Otter Tail1823
Cottonwood1730
Becker1481
McLeod1450
Pipestone1449
Polk1393
Douglas1360
Itasca13512
Waseca1330
Carlton1300
Pine1280
Dodge1250
Murray1221
Isanti1140
Unassigned10941
Chippewa1011
Brown852
Meeker852
Wabasha840
Faribault830
Morrison821
Sibley802
Rock750
Koochiching743
Pennington731
Jackson710
Mille Lacs693
Cass662
Fillmore610
Renville605
Lincoln540
Grant521
Swift521
Yellow Medicine500
Pope460
Roseau460
Houston400
Norman370
Redwood320
Wilkin313
Hubbard300
Kanabec301
Aitkin291
Marshall290
Mahnomen251
Wadena240
Big Stone220
Red Lake210
Lake180
Stevens160
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson30
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46704

Reported Deaths: 899
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9874204
Woodbury367351
Black Hawk305462
Linn219887
Johnson200216
Dallas180735
Buena Vista179012
Scott163613
Dubuque159431
Marshall140725
Pottawattamie125724
Story112614
Wapello86633
Muscatine83948
Webster7637
Crawford7263
Sioux6072
Cerro Gordo58617
Tama54329
Warren5421
Jasper45825
Wright4511
Plymouth4488
Louisa37914
Dickinson3784
Clinton3383
Washington28810
Hamilton2431
Boone2342
Franklin2278
Bremer1967
Clarke1903
Emmet1852
Carroll1831
Shelby1761
Clay1741
Hardin1710
Marion1590
Allamakee1524
Poweshiek1518
Jackson1461
Benton1451
Des Moines1432
Mahaska13717
Floyd1322
Guthrie1285
Jones1262
Cedar1231
Buchanan1181
Butler1182
Hancock1172
Henry1143
Pocahontas1141
Lyon1080
Madison1072
Clayton1013
Cherokee991
Harrison990
Lee993
Delaware941
Humboldt941
Iowa941
Taylor940
Monona910
Winneshiek901
Mills850
Calhoun822
Kossuth820
Fayette810
Sac810
Palo Alto800
Mitchell780
Osceola780
Jefferson770
Page770
Grundy761
Winnebago760
Union741
Monroe707
Worth640
Lucas534
Chickasaw520
Davis511
Howard490
Cass481
Montgomery454
Appanoose433
Greene380
Fremont340
Van Buren341
Keokuk311
Ida290
Audubon281
Adair230
Decatur230
Ringgold211
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned40
Rochester
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
Mason City
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 62°
Albert Lea
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Austin
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Charles City
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
Warming temps and rain inbound
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Seans Weather 8/6

Image

'Truck to Trunk' event happening today in Dodge County

Image

Boys and Girls Club preps for upcoming school year

Image

Discussions on new rules for seclusion rooms

Image

North Iowa baseball players named to All-Star series

Image

Rising above adversity

Image

Rochester Diversity Council Wants to "Lift Every Voice"

Image

Gov. Reynolds Signs Executive Order Allowing Some Felons to Vote

Image

A resurgent local dairy business

Image

Sara's 10PM Forecast - Wednesday

Community Events