From F1 outings to a royal honour – The career highlights of Susie Wolff: F1 Academy’s new Managing Director
Susie Wolff was announced as the Managing Director of the F1 Academy all-female driver series on Wednesday, bringing a wealth of motorsport experience and unique insight to the role. As she settles in, we look back at some of her standout moments as a racer and team leader.
Early karting and single-seater success
Born in the Scottish resort town of Oban in 1982, Wolff started karting aged eight and soon picked up accolades. Across 1997, she won the 24-Hour Middle East Kart Championship, along with titles in the Scottish Junior Intercontinental ‘A’ and Scottish Open Junior Intercontinental ‘A’ categories.
After being named the best female kart driver in the world, Wolff made the move to single-seaters for 2002, initially tackling the Formula Renault UK championship. She reached the podium during her second season, before a third campaign yielded a trio of rostrums and fifth in the standings.
READ MORE: Susie Wolff announced as new Managing Director of all-female F1 Academy driver series
In 2005, Wolff secured a seat in British Formula 3, competing against the likes of future F1 driver Bruno Senna and future IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball. She scored points on debut at the Donington Park opener, only for her season to be disrupted by an ankle injury.
Forging a career in the DTM touring car series
It was at this point that Wolff’s career went in a different direction, as she swapped single-seaters for the DTM over the winter of 2005 – the German touring car series becoming her home for the next seven years.
Wolff kicked off her stint in Germany with Mucke Motorsport, bagging top 10 finishes in 2006 and 2007, before switching to Persson Motorsport for 2008 – a move that would yield points with P7 results at the 2010 Lausitzring and Hockenheim rounds.
READ MORE: F1 Academy announces 2023 calendar and race weekend format
Knocking on the F1 door with Williams
Wolff combined her final DTM season in 2012 with a new development driver role for Williams and, the following year, committed full-time to the F1 team by embedding herself at Grove.
Wolff would soon be at the centre of a breakthrough moment, becoming the first woman to participate in an F1 weekend since 1992 – when Giovanna Amati attempted to qualify for several races – at the 2014 British Grand Prix.
Another FP1 outing followed at that year’s German Grand Prix, where she lapped just a couple of tenths slower than regular driver Felipe Massa. An enhanced role followed for 2015, featuring two more practice runs and test responsibilities, before Wolff stepped away from the sport.
Daring to be different via her own initiative
After breaking down barriers and hanging up her helmet, Wolff was determined to help future generations succeed. In 2016, she followed through on those ambitions and co-founded the non-profit Dare to be Different organisation.
Three years later, Wolff and D2BD teamed up with the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission to pilot an educational programme for girls between the ages of eight and 18, with successful events being held at various Formula E rounds.
READ MORE: ‘It’s a good thing for F1 to be involved in’ – New F1 Academy series backed by team bosses
Taken forward as part of the FIA Girls on Track programme, the main aim is to expose females to positive experiences across the motor racing and, in the long-term, increase the number of women involved in the sport.
Being honoured by royalty with an MBE
In recognition of her efforts on and off the track, Wolff was honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2017 New Year Honours list for services to women in sport.
It followed on from Wolff being given an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh in 2013, with the institution also noting her role as an ambassador for females across the sporting world.
Bossing it in the Formula E championship
A few years on from retiring as a driver, Wolff was back inside a motorsport garage with a very different role in 2018, taking on the Team Principal position at Venturi Racing in Formula E.
Wolff would oversee Venturi’s most successful season in 2020-21, with the team racking up almost 150 points and driver Edoardo Mortara falling agonisingly short of the individual crown, won by recently-signed AlphaTauri F1 driver Nyck de Vries.
BEYOND THE GRID: Susie Wolff on turning her F1 dream into reality
She was subsequently promoted to Chief Executive Officer, before parting ways with the team in 2022, and now takes on the Managing Director role at F1 Academy – her varied experiences to date no doubt serving as the ideal platform from which to oversee proceedings.
For up-to-date news and information about F1 Academy, head to the official website here.