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Wolff handed F1 practice chance

British driver Susie Wolff will become the first woman in 22 years to compete in a Formula One event this year.

The 31-year-old, from Oban, Argyll and Bute, will compete for Williams in two first practice sessions before the British and German Grands Prix in an expanded role as development driver for the team.

Not since Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify in the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix for Brabham, has a woman taken part in an F1 event.

Wolff joined the team in 2012 after seven years in the German Touring Car championship. The Scot hopes the next step in her career will be competing in an F1 Grand Prix.

She said: "The plan just now is for the British Grand Prix and the German Grand Prix.

"I've driven the car at Silverstone last year, so I have a bit of experience with the track, and Hockenheim I know well from my time in German touring cars, so for me it's two great races to be a part of.

"If you can take part in the Friday practice sessions then, of course, you have to be looking to doing an actual race.

"I said the minute I joined Williams that I didn't want to run before I could walk; for me it's about doing a good job each step of the way and, if I do that in the practice sessions, then the next natural progression will be taking part in a race."

Wolff is aware of the significance of her next challenge and believes she has earned the opportunity.

"It's not about being a woman, it's about being the absolute best you can be in the sport," she said.

"I've been made aware of the history of it, but more importantly for me is that we've done it in a chronological way. I joined two years ago as a development driver, did all the tests and this is now the next natural step in my progression in the team.

"For me it's more important to be doing a good job and contributing to the team and to be given the chance, not because of the history but because of merit and the job I do for the team."

Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas are the main drivers for the Williams team, with Felipe Nasr named as the official test and reserve driver, so Wolff is unlikely to compete in a Grand Prix this season but team management believe the practice sessions will help her to develop as an F1 driver.

Williams' chief technical officer Pat Symonds said: ''Susie has become a valued member of our driver line-up and 2014 will see her take on more responsibilities as we seek to make a strong step forward in performance.

''Susie has demonstrated a natural talent for developing a car and providing strong feedback, and these sort of characteristics will be key this season as teams seek to quickly understand and refine the radically overhauled 2014 cars .''

The news of Wolff's F1 drive comes just 10 days after Sauber announced that Simona De Silvestro would become an affiliated driver with the team, working her way towards gaining the necessary superlicence to compete in the sport.


From Belfast Telegraph