On This Day in 2015: Susie Wolff ends her bid to get on an F1 starting grid

British racing driver Susie Wolff announced on this day in 2015 that she would retire from motor sport at the end of the season.

Wolff, aged 32 at the time, had become the first female to take part in a Formula One race weekend in more than two decades in first practice at the 2014 British Grand Prix with Williams.

The Scot had also taken part in practice for the German Grand Prix that year as well as sessions in Spain in 2015 and again at Silverstone – but expressed her belief as she announced her retirement that F1 having a competitive female driver was something that was not going to happen soon.

Wolff's car on track at Silverstone in 2015 (Martin Rickett/PA).
Wolff’s car on track at Silverstone in 2015 (Martin Rickett/PA).

Wolff – married to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who was a minority shareholder in the Williams team – said: “My progression into Formula One came to represent so much more than a racing driver simply trying to reach the pinnacle of the sport. It was also the hope that finally there may again be a female on the starting grid.

“I rode the wave, was energised by all the support and fought hard. There were those who wanted it to happen. Those who didn’t.

“I can only tell you, I gave it my all. Do I think F1 is ready for a competitive female racing driver that can perform at the highest level? Yes. Do I think it is achievable as a woman? Most definitely. Do I think it will happen soon? Sadly no.

“We have two issues: not enough young girls starting in karting at a young age and no clear role model. Sometimes you just have to see it to believe it. My gut feeling tells me it is time to move on.”

Wolff, who competed in Formula Renault, Formula Three and the German DTM series before her stint in F1, was appointed as Williams development driver in 2012 before being promoted to the role of test driver.

But her hopes of becoming the first woman to start an F1 race since Lella Lombardi in 1976 suffered a huge setback when Adrian Sutil was signed up by Williams after Valtteri Bottas sustained an injury in qualifying for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, a move that appeared to scupper any long-term hope she had of competing for the team in a race.

Wolff added: “At 13, the dream and the goal became Formula One. I got oh so close.

“I wanted and fought very hard to make it onto that starting grid but the events at the start of this year and the current environment in F1 the way it is, it isn’t going to happen.”