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 22, 2018 12:37 AM
Updated: Aug 22, 2018 12:57 AM

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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312521

Reported Deaths: 5498
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion42641849
Lake27152455
Allen18010298
Elkhart17177221
St. Joseph16799229
Hamilton13011167
Vanderburgh9751120
Tippecanoe858727
Porter827986
Johnson6389165
Hendricks6098157
Vigo608384
Monroe536750
Clark515077
Madison5060122
Delaware4905103
LaPorte465595
Kosciusko462339
Howard344277
Warrick325672
Bartholomew316863
Floyd316277
Wayne307770
Cass299931
Marshall299144
Grant272550
Noble255046
Hancock253852
Henry247537
Boone244554
Dubois237931
Dearborn219030
Jackson215534
Morgan210843
Knox187819
Gibson186925
Shelby182155
Clinton180321
DeKalb177831
Lawrence177648
Adams168222
Miami162614
Wabash162521
Daviess156443
Fayette149234
Steuben147113
Jasper144412
Harrison142924
LaGrange142630
Montgomery142127
Whitley137114
Ripley132115
Huntington127410
Decatur126143
Putnam124627
Randolph124519
Wells124429
White123222
Clay122523
Posey122116
Jefferson118816
Scott109020
Greene102653
Jay99013
Sullivan96416
Starke92021
Jennings85314
Fulton84518
Spencer8378
Perry82521
Fountain7798
Washington7527
Franklin69927
Carroll68613
Orange67328
Vermillion6243
Owen6087
Tipton57627
Parke5706
Newton56312
Rush5438
Blackford53412
Pike50919
Pulaski39515
Martin3585
Brown3424
Benton3402
Crawford2941
Union2702
Switzerland2575
Warren2382
Ohio2317
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 382743

Reported Deaths: 6274
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin51161671
Cuyahoga37222743
Hamilton30493372
Montgomery20518236
Butler15199148
Lucas14566417
Summit13933327
Stark9193206
Warren841976
Mahoning7530300
Lake710067
Lorain6690106
Clermont593651
Delaware572537
Licking564577
Trumbull5584147
Fairfield554464
Greene538066
Clark5218101
Allen494989
Marion476759
Medina471657
Wood4598107
Miami437568
Pickaway404048
Portage358972
Columbiana357698
Tuscarawas342667
Richland328539
Wayne327394
Mercer296047
Muskingum252510
Hancock245940
Ross244559
Auglaize236435
Darke232560
Erie230268
Putnam229449
Ashtabula228354
Geauga211851
Scioto200616
Union19668
Shelby194017
Lawrence193039
Athens19134
Seneca182919
Belmont170229
Madison163119
Sandusky157729
Preble156521
Huron155519
Defiance144823
Holmes140439
Logan133517
Knox131718
Fulton128726
Jefferson128613
Crawford126817
Washington125227
Ottawa124530
Clinton109115
Williams10799
Ashland107825
Highland103718
Brown10135
Henry101323
Hardin99719
Champaign9825
Van Wert97318
Jackson96212
Fayette92717
Morrow9202
Guernsey89314
Coshocton85215
Perry82912
Adams80313
Pike7661
Gallia76513
Wyandot73217
Paulding66511
Hocking64516
Noble62224
Carroll48810
Meigs39612
Monroe32321
Morgan2685
Vinton2246
Harrison2193
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 41°
Angola
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 37°
Huntington
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Decatur
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Van Wert
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Cloudy Thanksgiving
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events