Susie Wolff believes moments like Abu Dhabi 2021 have helped women’s motorsport by attracting a new audience to the sport.
Wolff is leading F1’s efforts to attract more women to the sport as managing director of the new F1 Academy series and has been tasked with identifying young female talent and helping them on their way to Formula 1.
It is a road that has not been very busy lately. Wolff is the last woman to have participated in an F1 session while to find the last female racer, you would have to go back to Lella Lombardi in 1976.
But Wolff hopes women’s motorsport will follow a similar pattern to other sports such as football and cricket, which have seen a surge in numbers of female players but especially fans watching.
Motorsport is still a few steps behind, but Wolff believes there has been great progress over the past few years and credited some of the credit to times like the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“From my own perception, the world has changed,” Wolff told media including PlanetF1.com at the launch of the F1 Academy’s Discover Your Drive initiative. “MeToo came along, there was this real sense of empowerment and that led to huge investments in motorsport. You also have more following.
“And then the third topic is huge dramatic moments like Abu Dhabi. It really creates a fan base and young female athletes who have made the sport understand ‘Okay, we have to connect with this’.
“But we had made the call about it together. I couldn’t see myself taking on this role, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Although the Abu Dhabi events did not reflect well on the FIA, it was undoubtedly a success for Formula 1 with 108.7 million viewers tuning in worldwide, a 29% increase from compared to the previous season.
But motorsport is a far cry from the crowds of 83,000 crammed into Wembley for England’s Women’s Finalissima game against Italy this spring. In fact, the F1 Academy remains unavailable to watch with a live stream not expected to be in place until the Austin race in October.
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Regarding other sports, Wolff admitted she would be “crazy” not to follow their example.
“I think it would be stupid of me not to learn from other women’s sports that have made a lot of progress,” she answered PlanetF1.com’s question. “However, I consider myself so lucky that F1 wants the F1 Academy to be the best in the world.
“I just have to make sure we have more turnout because if anything keeps me awake at night it’s that we’re going to run out of drivers.
“I am very grateful to have been called F1 Academy, to have joined F1, but it is not certain that we will succeed. We still have to respect (the role) and I think there is a lot to learn. , not just F1, many different sports.”
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Susie Wolff’s article explains how Abu Dhabi 2021 helped women’s motorsport appear first on Planetf1.com.