For the second Formula 1 weekend in a row, the Williams Martini Racing team gave Scot Susie Wolff the opportunity to run in the first practice session, once again taking over the car of Valtteri Bottas. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, who took over the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez, joined her on track at Hockenheim.
For Wolff, it was a chance to get a decent session of running having ground to a halt early at Silverstone two weeks ago with a power unit failure. Early on it looked as though lightning would strike twice for the Scottish lady as a gearbox issue saw her stuck in gear. However the team were able to fix the car and enable her to run 22 laps and finish fifteenth fastest, only two tenths of a second slower than team-mate Felipe Massa.
“The car felt really good today and so I was able to get a good number of laps in,” said Wolff. “I was able to improve lap on lap and make use of the new set of tyres on the car. I was well prepared and the guys have done a good job for us all to be ready. I knew today was going to be our day and so when we had issues early on I stayed calm and got the car back to the garage.”
Wolff feels that when out on track, the fact she is a woman means nothing at all, and feels good enough to be considered for a race seat, although that will not be an easy thing to achieve.
“There was so much hype around Silverstone because it was going to be historic – but for me actions speak louder than 1000 words,” insisted Wolff. “I am asked so often: Am I good enough? Are women good enough? Are women strong enough? For me, when the helmet is on and I am out there, I am no different to anyone else driving – and I had to show that.
“I missed that chance at Silverstone with all the hype around, so it was so important to be able to do the performance here and let the rest take care of itself. I felt ready, but as we all know, it is a tough environment here. Getting the chance is not going to be easy, but for me it was definitely a massive step forward on my journey.
“I will be continuing my work in the simulator for the remainder of the season, but I will be looking for the next opportunity to get behind the wheel as I really want to do more.”
Sauber also gave Giedo van der Garde his fifth outing of the season and the Dutch driver finished the session sixteenth having completed twenty-three laps. He was just under three tenths of a second slower than team-mate Adrian Sutil.
“It was a good session,” admitted van der Garde. “I was able to run through our programme this morning. I was doing some set-up work. We tried a few things, some of them were positive and some did not work. Now we are going to analyse the data.
“I think the team was happy with my feedback and the direction we are going in. All in all, I was not focusing on fast laps, rather on consistent running, working on tyre management and doing set-up work.”