Susie Wolff insists she is confident in her ability to compete in Formula One — even if her dream is still firmly out of grasp.
The Scot, 32, drove in first practice on Friday ahead of Saturday’s Spanish Grand Prix, the third time she has run in that session since last year, and clocked the 14th-fastest time, more than eight-10ths of a second adrift of the other Williams of Felipe Massa.
Wolff is a development driver with the British marque and her participation here came 40 years after Lella Lombardi became the last woman to score a point in F1.
The former DTM racer recently said she feels a permanent F1 drive is “very far away”, but put faith in her own talents after the session.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t feel I was good enough,” she said. “I’m ambitious but I’m also realistic and if I didn’t think I was good enough or I didn’t think I was capable of racing at this level I would have been the first to take myself out of the game.
“But I feel like I’m very close (to being good enough), I feel like I have something to bring to the table and I 100 per cent feel that a woman can compete at this level.”
Having driven at Silverstone and Hockenheim last year, Wolff felt more suitably prepared for the outing at the Circuit de Catalunya even if she had to drive within her limits.
“It’s great. Every time you go out you learn so much,” she said. “I’m frustrated that I missed out on my quickest lap, had a moment on Turn 3 and that ultimately cost me two-10ths (of a second). Overall it was positive.
“But the car has to come back in one piece, you can’t take any unnecessary risk out there. I would love nothing more now than to do FP2. Because of what I have learnt in FP1, I could do it again and do it quicker.
“But that is not going to happen so for me it is about analysing what I did right and what I can do next time.
“It is difficult, I’m not the reserve driver for the team so that means I’m far away from a race day but I’m driving the car four times a year and not many people can say that. Close but far away.”
Wolff will be behind the wheel of the Williams for a post-race test in Austria before competing in the first practice session at the British Grand Prix.
She is still without the super licence that would allow her to race in a complete grand prix weekend but admits she is not in a position to attain one.
“I can’t apply for a super licence if I’m not going to do a race,” she said.
“If a race was close to happening (I would apply), but right now it is not, so I’m not going to jump a step ahead of myself. I can’t go and ask for one because they would ask what I need it for.
“I would do absolutely everything in my power if I had the opportunity to race.
“That is the only thing that would stop me at this stage when I have time in an F1 car, I do a lot of simulator work so that cannot be the reason to stop me doing a race. If that opportunity came the super licence would not be the thing to stop me.”
Meanwhile, at the front of the grid, championship leader Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive form by setting the pace in second practice.
The double world champion’s time of 1:26.852 was more than four-10ths of a second faster than the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, with Hamilton’s Mercedes-GP Nico Rosberg third quickest.
Hamilton said windy conditions had made it hard to set his car up.
“Sometimes it’s fine, perfect,” he said. “Then, the next lap, it’s different. So that makes it very difficult to find the set-up.”
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