SUSIE WOLFF is well used to breaking down barriers. 

Ever since her first foray into motorsport, the Oban woman has been setting records, recording firsts and making a mark on her sport.  

From her early days in go-karting to, in 2014, becoming the first woman in 22 years to take part in a Formula 1 race weekend when she drove in two free practice sessions for Williams at the British Grand Prix, she has been blazing a trail. 

It is perhaps, though, in her current role that the 38-year-old is making the biggest waves. 

In 2018, Wolff was appointed team principal of the Formula E team, ROKiT Venturi, breaking down yet another barrier by becoming the sport’s first-ever female team principal. 

It is a direction that, on retiring as a driver in 2015, she never anticipated she would go in but she achieved success quickly, leading the team to its first-ever race win when Edoardo Mortara claimed victory in Hong Kong in 2019. 

The win, and the team’s solid performances in her time in charge, are vital to Wolff. 

She is not, she admits, interested in garnering praise for her gender; rather, there is one thing and one thing only on which she wants to be judged. 

“As someone who is responsible for this team, I’m being judged on performance,” she says. 

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“I’m not in this to show what a woman can do but I do think there are still barriers to break down within this sport.  

“I was quite shocked when I came back to the sport in this role that not much had changed (in terms of gender balance) but I do think that in the end, it’s about performance. If I do my job well, it can show what’s possible.  

“No one is giving me any points or extra plaudits for being the most diverse; what counts is how we perform out on the track. That’s sport, you’re only as good as your last race.” 

To say motorsport is male-dominated is an understatement. Women, in any role, remain in the minority, if they are present at all. 

Which is why, welcome or not, Wolff’s gender is such a talking point.  

She has, she reveals, done only one interview in her life in which her gender wasn’t mentioned, and that line of questioning is likely to endure for some time yet. 

However, while Wolff acknowledges things will not change overnight, she is helping to make a significant dent in the statistics. 

Her Dare to be Different programme, set up in 2016, intended to increase the number of girls and women within the sport as well as change the views of women in perceived male-dominated industries and after merging with the FIA’s Girls on Track initiative recently, progress continues to be made. 

Wolff, who admits she is not a fan of quotas per se, will not, she insists, hire a woman purely to tick a box, but her outlook and attitude are almost certainly different from the majority of men in a similar position. 

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She has a four-year-old son and is keen to make motorsport, or her team at least, a far more welcoming environment for women, and mothers specifically, than it has traditionally been and already she has seen progress in that respect, with ROKiT Venturi’s staff including a large proportion of women, notably the paddock’s only female team manager. 

“I thought my gender would be much less of a topic when I moved out of being an active racing driver but it’s still a big topic because there are so few female leaders within motorsport,” she says. 

“I’ve ended up having one of the most diverse teams in Formula E, if not in the top level of motorsport, and I think that’s more because I come at the process with no unconscious biases.  

“I see what mothers are capable of; being a mother myself, I know how efficient we can be and how much we can get done, because we have to. 

“In the end, I hope that it’s inspirational for others, that it shows it’s possible to have great female talent in your team and for that to be an advantage and not just to tick a box to say we are diverse.” 

It may take time for other teams to follow her lead but, hopes Wolff, she and her female colleagues have shown that motorsport does not necessarily have to be quite such a male environment. 

“I think setting the example that I have has opened people’s eyes to maybe being less biased when it comes to the recruitment process in terms of offering that little bit more flexibility which allows mothers to be part of the team,” she says. 

“It’s something that of course I want to be very strong about because I’m a mother and I know what challenges there are and I do not think it’s right that when a woman becomes a mother she has to compromise on her career. 

“It’s not the main goal but if we are the most diverse and we are successful, it shows others that it is possible.” 

As it has for everyone, the past year has been challenging for Wolff. Along with her husband, Toto Wolff, who is CEO and team principal of F1 team, Mercedes, they spent the early part of the pandemic waiting to hear when racing would resume. 

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Motorsport was one of the first sports to get back into competitive action last summer but the time out of the fast lane was, admits Wolff, who now lives in Switzerland, a welcome break. 

“Lockdown allowed my husband and I to step off the wheel and put our priorities back in place,” she says.  

“We spent quality time together as a family and we reorganised and made sure we didn’t end up running at such a crazy pace as we had previously done. So from that perspective, there were a lot of positives and I actually used the time in lockdown well and I feel really refreshed.  

“It also reminded my husband and I how much we enjoy our jobs. Sometimes in life you need that break before you come back to it.” 

This weekend is a huge one for both Wolff personally and the team. 

Today, round seven of the Formula E Championships will come to Monaco, the home of ROKiT Venturi. 

With the team, spearheaded by drivers Edoardo Mortara and Norman Nato, currently in ninth place in the standings, Wolff is happy with how the outfit has performed so far this season, but is keen to push on further. 

“This race is always special for us,” she says. 

“In some respects, there’s more excitement in the air but in other respects it’s business as usual because we’ve got a big challenge ahead of us and we know what we want to achieve. So it’s about staying calm, being as well prepared as possible and then executing. 

“There’s still a long way to go in the season and we’ll take each race as it comes but I’m feeling very positive about the team as a whole.” 

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With nine rounds of the championship remaining, there is still time for ROKiT Venturi to improve on their result of eighth in Wolff’s first season, before falling to tenth last year. 

It would be easy to assume Wolff occasionally feels a pang of longing to be back in the driver’s seat herself but, she insists, there is nothing of the sort. 

“There’s been many moments when I’ve thought thank goodness I’m not in the car today – days when it’s really difficult conditions I’m glad I’m not out there,” she says.  

“I don’t miss driving at all. Because it was my decision to stop and I felt it was the right time for me to stop and move onto the next chapter of my life, there’s not been one moment where I’ve wished I was in the car.” 

Still in her thirties, Wolff likely has many more challenges ahead of her but, for now at least, she is purely focused on the task in hand. 

“I haven’t thought about my next challenge because this one isn’t finished yet,” she says.  

“I want to make this team a front-running team and there’s still a lot of things I want to achieve. And so until those things have been achieved, I won’t be looking towards the next part of the journey.” 

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will be racing at an adapted Circuit de Monaco with live coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Website and Eurosport 2 from 2:20pm today.