Susie Wolff: It was incredible, I’ve dreamed about this day for a long time
18 October, 2012
Oct.17 (Reuters) Williams development driver Susie Wolff paid tribute to seriously injured Marussia tester Maria De Villota after having her first drive in a Formula One car at a damp Silverstone circuit on Wednesday, but nevertheless realised a long held dream.
Spaniard De Villota, the last woman behind the wheel of a Formula One car, lost her right eye and fractured her skull in a horrific accident at a straight-line test at Duxford airfield in eastern England last July.
“She is an incredible lady. Before you even talk about her as a racing driver, she is an incredible person, an inspiration,” Wolff told reporters after her first session in the unsuccessful Williams FW33, the team’s 2011 F1 entry.
“We were in contact a couple of weeks ago and she told me to drive for the both of us now, that I would be out there representing us both.
“I had Maria’s star on my helmet, it’s with pride I have that, and without a doubt I was driving for the two of us,” added the 29-year-old Scottish-born driver.
Wolff, whose Austrian husband Toto is a Williams shareholder and director, normally races in the German Touring Car (DTM) championship and was thrilled to be achieving a lifetime’s ambition.
Before De Villota, who also tested a Renault in 2011, Britain’s Katherine Legge drove a Minardi at Italy’s Vallelunga circuit in 2005 and American Sarah Fisher carried out a demonstration run in a McLaren at Indianapolis at the 2002 U.S. Grand Prix.
The last woman to start a Formula One race was Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.
“Never at any point was I worried about what was happening out there. Everything was under control and it was really good fun,” said Wolff.
“It was incredible. I’ve waited a long time for this day, I’ve dreamed about this day for a long time, with the first lap something special.
Williams’s regular race drivers Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela and Brazilian Bruno Senna, who were at Silverstone to drive two title-winning cars – Keke Rosberg’s 1982 FW08 and Damon Hill’s 1996 FW18 – and meet guests and sponsors, were watching the run.
“She’s doing quite good…so confident with the car. I have been with her in a DTM two-seater and I have to say she has a great control of the car,” said Maldonado, who drove Hill’s car.
“The first time in an F1 car as everyone knows, is a special day. She is good.”
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